President Donald Trump’s most recent foreign policy blunder is earning condemnation from around the world at this point. This week, chairpersons of foreign affairs committees in the U.S. House and the parliaments of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the European Union joined together for a joint statement condemning Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, where they were stationed alongside local Kurds. Turkish forces attacking the Kurds have filled the void left by the abrupt departure, and even as casualties mount, Trump refuses to budge.
Besides noting that they “jointly condemn in the strongest terms the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria,” which they called a “violation of international law,” global leaders including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) shared in that joint statement:
‘We deeply regret the decision of the president of United States to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria which marks another landmark in the change of American foreign policy in the Near and Middle East. The turmoil caused by the Turkish offensive may contribute to a resurgence of Islamic terrorism and undermines years of effort and investment to bring stability and peace in this part of the world. Therefore, we hope the United States will take up its responsibility in Syria again.’
There have already been signs of the increasing dangerous volatility in the region. Reports have circulated of large numbers of suddenly freed ISIS-associated individuals, and with little help for the Kurds attempting to keep the prisoners still held in check, more could be freed in the near future.
The only forces that have come in to assist local Kurds in northern Syria are authoritarians from that part of the world, including the Syrian Assad regime. The Kurds have also apparently reached out to the Russian government to seek assistance in fighting back against the Turkish onslaught, and both of these developments mean that the U.S. is getting shut out of the region. Trump is letting not just general volatility but Vladimir Putin specifically wreak unchecked havoc.
Trump has responded to the turmoil with an array of attempts at simply dismissing the situation. He’s veered into insisting that Turks had to “clean out” the near-border area in which the Kurds live, suggesting he supports ethnic cleansing. He’s insisted that the Kurds themselves are “not angels,” as if this blanket statement from a man who has lied more than 13,000 times while in office is supposed to be an excuse for the Turkey-induced carnage.
On Monday, Trump complained:
‘We supported them for 3 1/2, four years. We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives. Where’s an agreement that said we have to say in the Middle East for the rest of humanity, for the rest of civilization to protect the Kurds? It never said that.’
Why is Trump acting like the only two options are immediate withdrawal and supporting the Kurds for the “rest of humanity”? Can he not taking something other than his own name seriously even for a moment? People’s lives are at stake! Literally!