The mistakes are piling up, with no more tragic blunder than Syria. The Post reports:
The United States began withdrawing American troops from Syria’s border with Turkey early Monday, in the clearest sign yet that the Trump administration was washing its hands of an explosive situation between the Turkish military and U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters.President Trump, in a series of Twitter messages Monday, suggested that the United States was shouldering too much of the burden — and the cost — of fighting the Islamic State. He rebuked European nations for not repatriating citizens who had joined the extremist group, claiming that the United States was being played for a “sucker.” And he chided his own Kurdish allies, who he said were “paid massive amounts of money and equipment” to fight the militants.
One cannot overstate how deep a betrayal this is and how badly this damages allies’ trust in the United States. The Kurds have been loyal, effective allies both in the war against the Islamic State and in providing some measure of stability in a region where there is little. (“Military officials point out that Kurdish assistance is still required to avoid a return of the Islamic State in Syria and to guard facilities where Islamic State militants and their families are being held.”)
Trump, who never tires of cutting refugee admissions, also is contributing to yet another humanitarian nightmare. (“[Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s plan to send up to 3 million Syrian refugees into the 140-mile-long strip also runs counter to what the United States says was part of the agreement they had reached to allow only the 700,000 to 800,000 refugees who originally fled the area to resettle there. Turkey currently hosts more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, but the government has recently begun deporting hundreds back to Syria as public sentiment turns against the migrants.”)
It’s rich that Trump’s most shameless apologist, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), bemoans, “If press reports are accurate this is a disaster in the making." For someone who constantly provides cover for Trump’s erratic decision-making and use of foreign policy for private, oblique ends, Graham — along with numerous other Republican enablers — can hardly be surprised that Trump cares nothing for the United States’ reputation and future ability to woo allies.
As usual, we have no idea how Trump reached a decision opposed by all his senior advisers. Is he trying to divert attention away from the impeachment inquiry? Is he yet again ingratiating himself with Syria’s ally Russia (for whom the U.S. withdrawal and loss of credibility are unearned wins)? Or is there some convoluted personal financial deal that benefits him and/or his family? What we do know is that this is not a well-considered, interagency-approved policy based solely on U.S. interests. To the contrary, we can only imagine what outrageous phone calls with foreign leaders preceded this decision.
There is no better example of the utter folly of GOP hawks such as Graham and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) continuing to spin for Trump and consign the country and the West to four more years of this chaotic retreat from world leadership. Had President Barack Obama left allies in the lurch and ignored the risk of the Islamic State’s resurgence, they would have been decrying his weakness and defeatist attitude. Oh, wait. They did — when Obama exited Iraq in 2011 and drew down forces in Afghanistan.
Trump’s political allies are so utterly consumed with Trump’s political future, supposedly so critical to keeping the country from the clutches of defeatist, isolationist Democrats, that they fail to appreciate that they are enabling a president whose foreign policy is one they would detest coming from a Democrat. What’s more, as Trump places personal interests above national interests, he likely isn’t even trying to arrive at whatever policy is best for America. We know it’s always Trump First.