We have been discussing the disastrous decision of President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. forces from the Turkish border with virtually no warning to his own agencies and allies. While some of us support the effort to remove troops from these countries, there is overwhelming condemnation from Republicans and Democrats in how this was done. The Turks have been accused of war crimes and ethnic cleansing as Russia occupies former U.S. bases in the area. Worse yet, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU, has warned our other allies that the United States cannot be trusted and that they must now look to Moscow for a reliable friend: “We warned the Kurds that the Americans would abandon them. And here in Rhodes, I can personally warn the Greeks to think about whether a similar fate awaits them.”
Chizhov was speaking at the International Forum of Dialogues of Culture in the Greek island of Rhodes and seeking to undermine the defense agreement between the United States and Greece. The open use of the abandonment of the Kurds surprised many. This is the type of argument usually made behind closed doors.
Trump often speaks of his friendship and respect for Russian President Vladimir Putin but the feeling hardly seems mutual as Putin and his government have undermined the Trump Administration in countless ways. While Trump recently wished the Russians the best of luck in its efforts in Syria, Russia is using Trump’s decision now to undermine confidence in our loyalty around the world.
Once again, the issue is not the underlying policy of getting out of Syria, but how the decision was made. Trump himself said that he has no intention to withdrawing troops in areas that protect Israel or oil interests. Yet, he overruled his military and national security staff in ordering a withdrawal to green light the Turkish invasion — an invasion that has killed hundreds and displaced thousands. Trump followed this sudden decision by tearing down the Kurds and belittling the issue as two schoolyard kids fighting. He also bizarrely claimed that the Kurds are delighted with how things are working out.
Both Republicans and Democrats joined this week in condemning the President’s actions in a 354-60 vote.