Terry H. Schwadron
Oct. 11, 2019
What exactly did Donald Trump have in his head when he dismissed abandoning the Kurds for possible slaughter by neighboring Turks by saying the Kurds “didn’t help us with Normandy”?
It was an absurd comment, of course, but indicative of the flailing that represents public policy making in a White House suddenly under unwanted pressures from impeachment inquiries in the House, bad trade war news and now, from his own decision out of the blue to pull out remaining U.S. troops from Syria.
That this last move is prompting bipartisan condemnation is a relief, of course, however ineffective it is proving at changing the decision-by-whim of a Trump that sees himself as king. The criticisms from all sides about a truly terrible foreign policy move show that there are some embers still burning for logic and reason. Of course, it is not just abandonment at issue — ISIS threatens to arise anew from their Caliphate ashes — exactly what Trump accused Barack Obama as having done in Iraq.
The angry words from the likes of Trump allies Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-SC, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, should translate into broader calls for review of White House decision-making altogether.
But they won’t, of course, because we all see that Trump is motivated only by his own personal gut and his love of conspiracies.
Nevertheless, all of us except Trump can agree that the sudden decision, bypassing the national security group and military leaders, has opened the door for Turkey’s military strike on ethnic Kurds that have been American allies in fighting ISIS. With American forces gone, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is already killing military and civilians both, with apparent Trump blessing.
By way of explanation, Trump defended his reasoning by saying the Kurds “didn’t help us with Normandy.” The full quote: The Kurds are fighting for their land, just so you understand. They’re fighting for their land and as someone wrote in a very, very powerful article today: They didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy, as an example… but they’re there to help us with their land. And that’s a different thing. And, in addition that, we’ve spent tremendous amounts of money on helping the Kurds, in terms of ammunition, in terms of weapons, in terms of money, in terms of pay. With all of that being said, we like the Kurds.”
As far as slaughter is concerned, the Trump comment is that attacking them is a bad idea. But he’s not lifting a finger to stop it.
Not only don’t his comments make sense, they are offensive on every level. The Kurds weren’t in a position to participate in World War II, but following Trump’s logic, they also didn’t take the United States’ side in Vietnam, Korea or the War of 1812.
Actually, The Washington Post quoted a historian who said that during World War II, Kurds “didn’t have a state, so they couldn’t act as a state,” said Jordi Tejel, author of “Syria’s Kurds: History, Politics and Society.” Still, he said individual Kurdish fighters from across the region did join other armies, fighting alongside the British and the Soviet Union’s Red Army.
Slate identifies the conservative site Townhall as the source for Trump’s weird remarks. Townhall said the Kurds were an ally worth defending when we had a common strategic interest in defeating ISIS, and that the Kurds were involved only to protect their homeland — as if this is a problem. “This idea that some sort of obligation for America to defend another people can arise outside the treaty ratification process is as bizarre as it is unconstitutional. Now we’re supposed to shed our blood because our elites feel we owe it to foreign strangers?” went the argument.
Yes, that is exactly why.
All week, my stomach has been churning because the President of the United States cannot see that he is causing deaths of people who have been sacrificing for us. Even when asked about the inevitable breakout of thousands of ISIS fighters in refugee camps, Trump’s response is that any escapees will go to Europe, where they can wreak terrorist madness on our allies. How is this anything close to an American value or a humanistic value? It’s much more likely that some of the ISIS anger will be aimed at Israel, of course, where Trump insists there is no daylight between Israeli and American interests.
There is plenty of justification for continued U.S. presence in those contested parts of Syria, ranging from rank national interest — keeping ISIS violence away from U.S. shores, for example — to strategic concerns about the giveaway of power in the Middle East to Russia, Turkey and Iran.
It was telling that a Trump defender on Fox was referring to the current impeachment inquiries over Trump‘s bad national security behavior in leaning on foreign governments for personal, partisan political purposes to help his own reelection, as Regicide — the killing of the King.
Legal issues aside, somehow it is amazing that those high crimes and misdemeanors that Congress is looking at don’t start with Trump’s self-declared immunity to the law and deciding that he can do anything he wants while in the White House.
Throwing in with Turkey’s autocratic leader to slaughter our allies — apparently the result of another, unreported phone call between Trump and Turkey’s leader — is all but a crime against humanity, a high crime indeed.