Commentary: Will Donald Trump's bizarre betrayal of the Kurds and our country's security interests wake anyone up?
Imagine for a moment that Barack Obama, against repeated advice by military and defense experts and his own aides, suddenly went wacky on a call with the Turkish President and said, “Yeah, I know you want to get the Kurds, so we'll get out of there.”
Suppose that when grownups from both parties screamed, Obama gave no coherent explanation, but said the Kurds had “nothing to do with us” and weren't necessarily nice people. When reporters noted that his former security advisor, General Mattis, thought the move unwise, Obama said Mattis was a lousy general, and that he, Obama, had beaten ISIS in a month. Yeah, sounds kind of like a playground spat outside an elementary school.
Suppose that when Republicans in Congress criticized him, he called them names; and when his own party called his mistake dangerous, Obama's lame excuse was that we needed to extricate ourselves from endless wars. (But we're talking just 1,000 troops here; and they aren't coming home, but being reassigned in neighboring Iraq.)
I use Obama's name rather than Trump's to highlight the absurdity here. No one can imagine Clinton, either Bush, Obama, or Eisenhower behaving this way – or responding to criticism with schoolyard insults, not reason. Trump brags he conquered ISIS. That's a laugh line. However, when the military captured Osama bin Laden, Obama actually kept apprised of the plans, in detail, throughout; and he even made a practical suggestion that turned out to be critical to the mission's success.
Whether Kurds are nice or not isn't the point. They fought alongside us, playing a crucial role against ISIS. In the future, anyone calculating whether to help a Green Beret on the run in enemy territory sure won't factor in any hope the U.S. is capable of stability, let alone loyalty. Our president kisses Putin's ass and thinks Kim is a dear fellow but demeans allies at every opportunity.
Adding insult to injury, Trump and Pence have “negotiated a cease-fire” under which Turkey will give the Kurds five days to evacuate their homeland. That's not a cease-fire, that's a surrender, or an invitation to one. If Russia were menacing Sitka, Alaska, would Trump ask for five days to evacuate and call that a victory?
Meanwhile, Trump's off-script request that Ukraine re-open its investigation of Joe Biden remains problematic. Trump claims he never said “quid pro quo”; but in gangster films, when Capone says you have a nice candy store and it'd be a shame if some disappointed customer fire-bombed the place, and offers protection money, the store-owner gets the idea. Or else. Trump claims he was upset about corruption; but he runs the most corrupt administration since Warren Harding. Further, he asked Ukraine to deal with corruption by re-appointing a prosecutor generally believed to be extraordinarily corrupt.
Fortunately, Trump's effort to stonewall Congressional oversight by discouraging witnesses from testifying is failing. Seasoned diplomatic experts have called Trump's extortion effort “crazy,” and even John Bolton – a professional, despite his fatuous politics – quickly had an aide tell the DOJ Bolton wasn't involved in “this drug deal.”
Trump's destroying our State Department – and junking credibility and alliances that U.S. actions and reliability built over time.
This guy ain't a leader, but the bull-in-a-china-shop some disaffected voters wanted; but it's our china shop, and some broken stuff is irreplaceable.