President Trump’s decision to pull a handful of U.S. troops out of northern Syria to make way for a Turkish attack on our Kurdish allies is perhaps the worst thing I’ve seen out of this presidency.
Sure, the Kurdish forces have ties to groups in Turkey that are terrorists. But we chose these people to assist us. They were remarkably successful in helping us deal with a problem, ISIS, which had been created by Barack Obama’s similarly irresponsible decision to withdraw forces too early from the region.
Trump’s comments about the Kurds not helping us during World War II are moronic. Their abandonment is yet another example of throwing people who deal with us to the wolves, like we did in Vietnam. And like Obama more recently did in Libya, where Muammar Qaddafi had agreed to give up his nuclear weapons and then Obama and Hillary Clinton attacked and killed him, effectively.
This is Obama-style foreign policy. Sure, we need to limit our involvements overseas. But we do need to be involved to some extent, because otherwise, they strike us here, as a quick search in downtown New York City for the World Trade Center towers will remind you.
The Kurds are also guarding lots of bad guys, former ISIS members. These people may soon be melting into the population, only to reemerge soon armed with kalashnikovs and plastic explosives.
What a waste and a dumb idea. We don’t owe anything to Turkey, which refused to allow us to use our base there during the 2003 Iraq War. I don’t know what Trump’s affection Turkish President Erdogan is based on, but the policy is a disaster.
Trump is threatening sanctions. The Turks are not going to care. They want to kill Kurds. He thinks everyone cares as much about money as he does.
From a good opinion piece by Marc Thiessen today in the Washington Post:
President Trump has defended his shameful abandonment of our Kurdish allies in Syria, declaring that “I was elected on getting out of these ridiculous endless wars” that have left America “bogged down, watching over a quagmire.” Listening to the president, Americans might think that we still have large numbers of U.S. troops fighting on fronts across the Middle East. We do not.
The days when we deployed hundreds of thousands of troops in the Middle East are long gone. Today, we have 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, about 5,000 in Iraq and just 1,000 in Syria. That is a grand total of about 20,000 troops in all three countries. By contrast, we have about 37,950 U.S. troops in Germany, 12,750 in Italy, 53,900 in Japan, and 28,500 in South Korea — a total of over 133,000. In fact, we now have three times more troops deployed in Spain (3,200) than we do in Syria.
Moreover, the vast majority of these U.S. forces are engaged in a noncombat mission known as “train, advise and assist.” U.S. allies do most of the fighting, while American troops provide intelligence, operational planning, fire support and airstrike coordination from behind the front lines. We have helped train and equip about 174,000 Afghan troops, 64,000 Iraqi troops and 60,000 Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) troops, made up predominantly of Kurdish fighters. They are the ones engaged in ground combat with America’s enemies.
Trump likes to say he “defeated” the Islamic State. Actually, the bulk of the fighting was done by our Kurdish allies, trained and supported by U.S. Special Operations forces. As Gen. Joseph Votel, who served as commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, explains, “Over four years, the SDF freed tens of thousands of square miles and millions of people from the grip of ISIS. Throughout the fight, it sustained nearly 11,000 casualties. By comparison, six U.S. service members, as well as two civilians, have been killed in the anti-ISIS campaign.”