Updated: Jan 6
Like most of us, I’ve been heartsick about what has been happening with our former allies, the Kurds. President Trump made a decision based on a campaign promise to withdraw from endless foreign wars. Our military incursions into the Middle East have been a gigantic drain on our financial and human resources. It seems we arm and train one tribal group this year and fight them the next. Our allies are often morally as bad as our enemies, and they don’t ever seem to contribute as much to their own strategic interests as we do. There is also a more academic question about whether or not it is ever right to use our immense power to upset a regional balance, considering we will inevitably have to leave. Bad things always happen when we leave.
As you all know, I am not a fan of this President, but imagine the burden he faced knowing the probable fate of the Kurds. The Turks have a long history of persecution and genocide. Just ask the Armenians. But it’s the President’s job to make tough choices, and the truth here is that the practical cost of supporting the Kurds outweighs the diplomatic benefit.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is no joke. With the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the 1990s, he worked his way to absolute power in Turkey, and in 2018, he became its de facto dictator. A charismatic, pragmatic and powerful man, Erdogan wants to rekindle Turkish glory. He is anti-Western, Anti-secular and his prisons are filled with his political enemies. He is surrounded by sycophants, and Vladimir Putin is his closest ally. And, there is one more piece of information here that is very important. Turkey’s military ranks ninth in the world, ahead of Germany, with 90 nuclear weapons at their disposal.
We do not know the specifics that were presented to the President. The only person I know that has had first hand knowledge of the communication between the Trump and Erdogan is Senator Graham, who has been a leading voice in opposition to this policy shift. He has stated publicly that the President did not give Erdogan a "green light."
When you start to consider the hypotheticals, which you do if you’re President of the United States, decisions are not always as simple as a campaign attack. How likely was Turkey to go against the directives of the President? What if we had to stand our ground and confront Turkey militarily? Would they attack us in force? Would Russia and possibly Iran have come in on their side? Would we risk a worldwide conflict?
Truth and fairness are the virtues with which the President should be judged no matter how he plays his cards. Every time we use dishonesty, hatred or political opportunism, it reflects on us not him, and the American people are watching. All things being normal, the Democratic Party should have sided with the President on this decision. We have never been supporters of military intervention, but these are not normal times. We are now being counted on the wrong side of this situation in multiple ways. A contradiction of philosophy that will no doubt haunt us in the future.
For now, we are a superpower, but our internal struggles are leaving us vulnerable to the realities of international conflict. Putin and Xi are serious chess-masters, as is Erdogan. They understand all-to-well that America is slowly choking on self-absorption, corruption and internal conflict. They know that even though we wield immense economic and military power, we do not have the political will to bring it to bear on the commitment of our President. Our President knows it too. So, instead of jumping to self-interested criticism and outright dishonesty when it comes to the President, maybe we should put a mirror up to our face and ask what we’ve done lately to make our nation stronger.