Trump Betrays an Ally at the Turkish Border

An American withdrawal from northern Syria will leave Kurds who helped us against the Islamic State to fend for themselves.

Comments: 192

  1. trump is destroying America.

  2. @Jo That's what he commissioned to do by Putin. And he's getting very high performance ratings from his real boss.

  3. @Jo I agree with the small t. I find myself writing the word president with a small p.

  4. @Jo Don't let Moscow Mitch and the GOP off the hook. They are also at fault.

  5. Eventually Trump betrays everyone. Ask his three wives whom he's committed adultery against. Ask Michael Cohen. Ask Rick Perry who is now being blamed by Trump for the call to the Ukraine. If you side with Trump, he will betray you.

  6. Ask a!so all the contractors he has stiffed. Ask all the banks who trusted him to repay loans. Ask all the people who voted for him and got lied to. No one is immune to his betrayal. He has betrayed our nation.

  7. @Linda it seems like a simple lesson doesn't it? obvious since before day one. somehow a lot of people are still hoping against hope that it won't happen to them. unbelievable.

  8. @Linda Please do not forget the US betrayal of the Kurds by George HW Bush, recently lionized has a great statesman.

  9. Too bad some of our memories are so weak when it comes to Afghanistan. If we all read the book, CHARLIE WILSONS WAR and see the film with the same name, we will get a feel for how wrong we were to destroy the Afghan government supported by the Soviets, perhaps its best government ever. A real cold war tragedy that still haunts us.

  10. Since trump never does ANYTHING that doesn’t benefit himself, what did Erdogan promise him in return for this favor?

  11. @Steveyo - Not cancelling the licensing deal on Trump Towers Istanbul, which is one of his more lucrative licensing setups. The owner of the buildings who is licensing Trump's name is an Erdogan ally who can cancel the deal and stop the money train if he so chooses.

  12. @Steveyo 100 pct. Occupancy at Trump Tower Istanbul and a smile from Putin as he refrains from unleashing the blackmail he has against Trump. We can put our heads in the sand, but the rest of our bodies remain exposed to a toxic environment of treachery.

  13. It is entirely possible that Trump's decision was based on ticking off yet another promise he made to his base-to bring our troops home from, no matter from where. This just happened to be as convenient place as any and it didn't even have to involve vast numbers of soldiers to show himself to be the big bad bully in the eyes of his supporters. He knows nothing about the complex dynamics and history between the Kurds and the Turks and in all likelihood would not even be able to find Syria on a map. His desperate desire for reelection will be responsible for the lives of men, women and children. For Trump they are only collateral damage in his own abhorrent self interests.

  14. The Kurds courage and loyalty should be matched by our own integrity and honor. These days, our word as a nation seems to be meaning less than nothing these days--back tracking on our agreements will put the Kurds as a people in danger. Why is US Congress allowing President Trump to once again grab the bottom rung on an issue that has such significant consequences?

  15. @Cecile Betit Ms. Betit, the Kurds have never evidenced "courage and loyalty" in any conflict in which their own existence as a people was not in imminent jeopardy; and that is exactly as it should be for all peoples. To romanticize their history in some moist and smarmy flattery is to infantilize them with the type of "little Brown brother" literature so popular in the sad age of Kipling.

  16. @Cecile Betit Now, you may be completely misinformed about the nature of the Syrian 'regime', and some Syrian Kurds are, too, but more aren't, and that is why the extremists among them have already figured out that without the specter of the US being willing to force the region into giving the Kurds their own country, the majority of the Syrian Kurds want to be SYRIANS who happen to be Kurds.

  17. @Hayekian von Mises You name handle says it all. A neoliberal through & through, cheering for empire. The Kurds have indeed shown "courage & loyalty." You conveniently forgot that they were practically alone in fighting Isis, or originally standing up to Sadam Hussein before being gassed (with the help of the USA supplying that chemical, produced by the Chemical Industrial Complex).

  18. You mention the importance of history and than say something like "Unlike our NATO ally Turkey, the Kurds have proven themselves loyal" . Turkey was a loyal NATO ally throughout the cold war and afterwards. Before they die out ask the Korean War veterans, Bosnia, Afganistan and all the smaller deployments where Turkey always lifted its weight. Short memories, unintentionally or by design, serve no country well. So remember that it was the Turks who were the true allies way before, only to be forgotten and repeatedly acted against...

  19. @A-OK This is very true. Thank you.

  20. @A-OK ask the Armenians, Greece, and people living in Cypress in 1974 how they like the Turks.

  21. True before Erdogan, not since.

  22. As revealed in this essay, Trump isn't just turning over territory to the Turks. He is taking away people's hopes and dreams, their chances of a free and rewarding life. That's what they are fighting to protect. To Trump, everything is purely transactional. What's in it for him. After he gets his payoff, it's off you go. He doesn't need you anymore. He can get another payoff somewhere else. That's what Trump just did to the Kurds. That's what Trump does to everyone he deals with. How many friends does he really have? Who really likes him? Who is he bonded to? Has he ever really been bonded to anyone? From the constant stream of people that leave him and the constant attacks they receive from him, that answer could very well be close to zero. He recently discussed his son and referred to him by saying "She (his wife) has a son". That's his son. He didn't say my son or our son. What father does that? Now if a man can't speak of his own son in a manner that indicates a bond, how can any nation or people that allies with him expect to be treated any better? Trump plays everyone and everyone plays him. He is emotionally bankrupt. He is incapable of bonding with anyone and consequently is incapable of honoring any treaties and agreements. That's why it is so easy for him to break every agreement he can. That's why it's so easy for him to throw people under the bus. That's why he just backstabbed the Kurds. Dear world. He will do it again.

  23. @Bruce Rozenblit “The U.S. military has no plans to intervene if Syrian Kurdish forces abandon a constellation of Islamic State prisons in Syria to confront a possible Turkish invasion, officials said Tuesday.“ Today’s Washington Post! Stop Trump now!

  24. @Bruce Rozenblit. Trump is a textbook sociopath. Yet he has the support of most Republicans who put party over country. And The Turkish invasion of Syria is only the latest ugly result.

  25. "They’ve also been long and staunch allies of the United States, proving themselves as effective fighters in service of our country’s interests, from the invasion of Iraq to the fight against the Islamic State." service of our country's interests... That tells it all about the real reason for the existence and control of Kurdish militia in northern Syria.

  26. The ending of this article is the most concerning: there are fans for old-time empire calming awaiting neo-imperial design. The notion of empire will almost certainly guarantee a march towards technological solutions to achieve post-nationalistic goals.

  27. Readers fail to accurately situate this development as part of the defeat of the US in the Middle East, and its historic retreat from the theater. This has nothing to do with Trump. It just happened on his watch. This is the result of nearly 30 years of failures and defeats of the US in the Middle East, starting with the failure of the 1991 Gulf War to overthrow the Iraq regime and establish a "stable" domination by the US. Then the 2001 and 2003 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq ended in greater defeat amid widespread anger and unpopularity in the US, and unleashed instability throughout the entire region. Iran, the target of unending US hostility, benefitted from each debacle and at the most perfect moment imaginable struck like a diamond cutter and revealed the empire's nakedness. The limits of US power and prowess were clearly demonstrated, as Saudi is driven into total defeat by Yemen, Assad remains, Iraq is 'lost,' and the US rulers have wisely decided that a war against Iran would be catastrophic. US military doctrine of fighting two major wars simultaneously has been defeated and now the US is forced to retrench as it continues to "pivot" (starting under Obama) focusing all its military, political, economic weapons on China to prepare for what the Ruling Rich and their twin parties perceive as their existential conflict to defend US world domination. The borders of the Roman Empire are being pulled back and redrawn as the US rulers prepare for more war.

  28. Turkey is no ally of the West- under Erdogan it has become an increasingly fundamentalist dictatorship with little regard for minority rights or civil liberties as it seeks to re-establish the Ottoman Empire with the active support of Iran and Russia.

  29. @Andrew - depends on the definition of ally. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are allies of the USA. Whether either would go to war to defend the USA against attack from outside cannot yet be known, at present domestic terrorists are the main threat in America, that and poverty and declining national health. But of course Iran is seen by the US government as the country to be most feared, even if it is impossible to imagine Iran attacking continental USA. Citizen US SE

  30. @Andrew Turkey has also at least been playing both sides with ISIS. Most of the fighters who reached Syria went through Turkey. And Turkey was involved in buying and transporting the oil ISIS sold to finance its operations.

  31. The Kurds have been pursuing their own agenda in Syria, which is ultimately to create a Kurdish state. Kurds, spread among Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria, have opportunistically used the recent regional chaos to set up semi-autonomous enclaves under their control. But, as well as any arguable moral obligation not to sacrifice Kurdish allies to the higher American purpose of promoting Trump's hotel interests in Turkey, one should also consider that the Kurds are among the most socially progressive elements in the Middle East. Kurdish governed areas are generally well run and relatively democratic, and women's rights are respected. If there is to ever be a peaceful solution to warfare in the Middle East, the Kurds have the potential to play a positive stabilizing role. If any ultimate good can be assigned to Trump's treacherous betrayal of the Kurds, it must be in terms of viewing as a positive development the further collapse and dismantlement of the American imperial enterprise. It's hard to run a modern empire without friends and allies, which in turn implies a basic level of reliability and trust. America under Trump is vying to become the least trusted nation on the face of the planet, and this treachery is simply another nail in the coffin of imperial ambitions. It is instructive that the same Republican politicians who have been indifferent to Trump's assault on domestic democratic norms are now so riled about his betrayal of the Kurds. Their priorities are clear.

  32. @woofer "Kurds are among the most socially progressive elements in the Middle East. Kurdish governed areas are generally well run and relatively democratic, and women's rights are respected." Perhaps it's time to take a page out of the Kurds' playbook and start restoring democracy in the USA. Perhaps we can follow their noble model.

  33. @woofer How does empowering 2 unabashed revanchists like Erdogan and Putin in any way make the world safe from imperial ambition??!! They wield their imperial ambitions like a sword, literally and unapologetically. Trump likes to toady to ruthless strongmen as they build their empires because he expects to pick up crumbs. Also, I suspect, because he recognizes he’s a weakling, and that’s what weaklings always do.

  34. The article reminds me of a story of a man whose last name could be either of two ethnicities if the last letter was changed from one letter to another. Engaged in a war between the two countries, the man was wounded and while lying on his deathbed asked his sons who had gathered around him to quickly facilitate the change in his name from the ethnicity of the country he had identified with, lived in, and was about to die for. The sons were aghast and asked their father why in God's name he would change his name to another which was clearly identified with their enemy, the enemy who had inflicted the wounds which were about to cause his death. The wounded man raised himself slightly and replied: "It's better that one of them should die than one of us."

  35. "Unlike our NATO ally Turkey, the Kurds have proven themselves loyal. Loyalty is central to alliances. As it is to friendship." And herein lies the crux of the problem: a president whose concept of loyalty is both transactional and situational translates into tremendous inconsistency in foreign policy. I think it sends a terrible signal to peoples all around the world that on this president's watch, all bets are off in terms of loyalty. The Trump Doctrine, if you can call it that, is simply an extension of Trump's own concept of allegiance: you must be loyal to me, but if it benefits me personally, I'll throw you under the bus. I don't believe for a nanosecond that Trump is abandoning the Kurds because of a campaign promise. I believe the motive is far more sinister, given who benefits from this sudden and controversial policy shift: Russia and Turkey. What was he told to do, or expected to do that accounts for his fixation on exiting Syria, ISIS or no ISIS?

  36. @ChristineMcM Agreed. Also, it does not seem entirely coincidental that Trump very recently cancelled our participation in the Open Skies treaty. Possible outcomes: 1. Turkey invades Syria, harms Kurds, and we’re blind. 2. Russia invades Ukraine, and we’re blind (btw, has our money been transferred, and Javelins acquired, for their self-defense? 3. European allies no longer trust our confidentiality, and stop sharing information. That puts a lot of blood on Trump’s hands, and, by extension, ours. I doubt Trump is this strategically sharp, or loyal to allies. That infers that he’s still serving someone else. I’d guess it’s his sugar daddy, Putin. Sad time for America and the world, indeed.

  37. "Over the past five years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has, through a deft series of political maneuvers, ushered in a vast expansion of Turkish influence across the Middle East" This is the second time Erdogan has done this. The first time was when he first took office, and developed the Zero Problems with Neighbors policy. He pulled back from the brink of war with Syria, got a settlement with Syria of the Kurdish question that included help in capture of the Kurdish leader, opposed the US invasion of Iraq, and confronted Israel in defense of the Palestinians. It is rare for a leader to remake foreign policy twice, and each time expand influence in the region. This is less appreciated in the US, because he expanded Turkish influence in part at the expense of the US and Israel.

  38. The invasion of Iraq was done in substantial part for the Kurds. The US maintained a "no fly zone" and conducted a bombing campaign to defend Kurds from Saddam for ten years of constant air operations. One of the "justifications" for the invasion was that we couldn't go on forever with that. The Kurds do not have an army. They have a local defense militia in their communities. It is not organized for operations outside their own communities. It has no logistics people, no training for it, none of the hard professional stuff needed to make an army function outside its own barracks and towns. The US wanted to use them in the Arab areas held by ISIS, but the Kurdish forces could not be changed into an expeditionary military like ours. We tried, and it didn't work. That is just not who they are. Instead, the Kurds were given those areas by US fiat, by US military help on the ground, and by US use of the al Qaeda aligned non-Kurdish fighters who were sold to the US media as being "Kurdish led." They were not, they were US led, with one Kurd as figurehead. They were the same people the US had tried to turn into a non-al Qaeda force, but after spending half a billion organizing that couldn't find "five" men not al Qaeda among them. Then the existing Kurdish defensive militia was able to defend them with its local defense militias concept. Now the US is pulling back from those expanded areas it assigned to the Kurds, into which Kurds moved their communities and local defenses.

  39. "we abandoned the Afghans to their own civil war, creating conditions that led to the rise of the Taliban" That is not what happened, not at all. The Taliban were the Afghans we had supported, we put in power, the Southern religion-based forces, that we'd supported from the South via Pakistan against the Soviets. The Northern Alliance was what was left behind by the Russians when they left (to the north). Both were militia groupings in a tribal culture. This is the only fair summary to apply even though the small groups constantly jockeyed against each other. Certainly the specific leaders of al Qaeda and the Taliban had been the men organizing and leading those small groups to fight for the US against the Russians. When the US went back in to Afghanistan, it did so by providing Special Forces teams and air support to the Northern Alliance of former Soviet Afghans. They were the more secular, less jihadi side of an ongoing civil war over exactly that, secular vs religious. Taliban means "students," religious students studying the Koran in organized schools. The betrayal came then. The US betrayed its former allies and overthrew them in favor of the former Soviets. Pakistan did not change sides with the US. It couldn't, because the forces it had led were part of its own ethnic and religious communities on its side of that border. We had to? No. We could have provided *our allies* with the proof they demanded, and asked them to extradite the criminals. They offered.

  40. @Mark Thomason That is not true. The Taliban didn't come onto the scene until after the US had left. They first manifested in the anarchy that followed upon the Soviet withdrawal and received support from the Pakistani ISI. The Northern Alliance was a combination of anti-Taliban sentiment and anti-Pashtun sentiment. Your take on the NA is a gross oversimplification. Although Dostum fought for the Soviet-backed regime, one of the other leaders was Ahmad Shah Massoud who was not left behind by the Russians but had been a leader mujaheddin leader. Hamid Karzai raised funds for the mujahadeen, hardly a "former Soviet". If you believe that the Taliban "offer" to extradite the AQ leaders was in good faith, that they well sell out their allies (Mullah Omar was OBLs son-in-law) then I have a bridge I want to sell you. Further, the Taliban were already obliged by UNSCR 1267 to turn OBL over to the US. Their failure to do so shows exactly how real that "offer" was.

  41. The US has always been at war against Eastasia

  42. Erdogan has repeatedly said that he wants to annexate northern Syria. And all signs are he is serious about that. Unfortunately the article misses what he means about that. Erdogan doesn't want to resettle refugees in Northern Syria. The only people "resettled" in the North have been some rebel fighters from the South who he need to keep the Syrian government away. And they are settled in houses from expelled Kurds - Turkey hasn't built one new house. Refugees who wanted to move from Idlib to the Turkish occupied Al Bab-Jarabulus region have reported that they are very unwelcome. There have also been many reports how this region is being integrated into the Turkish infrastructure. And the 4 million refugees? As the article already indicates: Erdogan - himself from Georgian descent - wants to assimilate them.

  43. The Middle East is complexity defined, Trump does not do complexity well if at all. Always beware the man who is peddling simple solutions to complex problems they very very rarely work.

  44. @Chris : Come now, our President is a "stable genius". Therefor, he should be able to solved the most complex problems. How many counties are blessed with a "stable genius"? Count your blessings, America.

  45. Note that if Turkey invades the US will be de facto enabling them as it is protection by the US that prevents the Syrian government and Russia from helping the Kurds and stopping Turkey.

  46. The US military maintains a presence in one-hundred-fifty nations around the world. Were US troops necessary in Vietnam? US troops were necessary on the Korean peninsula, otherwise South Korea would be part of the North's Hermit Kingdom rather than the economic power it is currently. It was never about local economies and culture, it was always about the Soviet Union versus the United States. Putin is meddling because he wants Russia to recover the glory of the former Soviet Union. Syria was identified as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, beginning in 1979, when Hafez al-Assad was in power. Recently, Syria engaged in chemical attacks on civilians. The Kurds fought terrorists with US aid. That is one issue. The Kurds' desire for sovereignty and the Turks' competing desire to expand the Ottoman empire is another issue, one that should be resolved diplomatically and with the participation of the United Nations, not through military conflict. As always, much will decide on the disposition of the US and Russia. Turkey possesses a formidable military, the second largest in NATO. The Kurdistan peshmerga and the guerilla fighters of the PKK and YPG are also formidable. The US needs to cultivate all of these groups as allies.

  47. @Andrew Shin Remember that the Kurds are an ancient and honorable culture, while under Erdogan, Turkey has slid backwards into the outline of the old sultanate.

  48. If anything, this article highlights the difference between a mercenary and an ally. Allies share common ends, mercenaries share merely a common currency. The Kurds always had their own separate agenda which the US has never adopted. They took our money. That makes them simply guns for hire. Our loyalty to them extends only insofar as our last paid dollar.

  49. @Neocynic Nice, let's abandon translators in Afghanistan and Kurds. Let's not consult our allies. Let's just go it alone, and next time we need some help we'll turn around and nobody's there. Kind of like Trump's life.

  50. Let's not forget the time a US President allowed another country's bodyguards to beat our own people on our own land for exercising Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly. Remember when Trump invited Erdogan to visit and Erdogan's bodyguards were filmed brutally beating peacefully assembled US protesters on US soil and the Tweeter in Chief tweeted NOTHING about it during the visit with Erdogan or thereafter? And in 2018, in another shady "quid pro quo" moment in this Administration we discover, by sheer coincidence, U.S. prosecutors have dismissed all charges against the Turkish bodyguards just *one day ahead* of an entirely private meeting between Sec. of State Rex Tillerson and Erdogan in which they supposedly discussed "easing tensions" between our nations.

  51. @Cybil M I'm assuming the District of Columbia still has active warrants out for Erdogan's bodyguards. He'll probably bring a different group this time.

  52. Turkey is historically a U.S. ally through NATO. The Kurds are a people scattered across multiple countries, and have generally been a minority in all if them. This isn’t to excuse the actions of the Turkish government against its internal minorities, nor to endorse the Turkish incursion into Syria. But you can’t fight on two sides of the same war, and the U.S. has correctly chosen the side of its traditional ally. The real betrayal of the Kurds was done by previous U.S. governments that foolishly made promises that they knew full well could never be fulfilled.

  53. @Global Charm Nothing in our alliance obligations to Turkey requires us to give them a green light against the Kurds in Syria. We often balance allies that have adverse interests (Greece and Turkey both being in NATO for one thing).

  54. @Global Charm The Obama Administration judged that Russia would have about as much fun in Syria as they had had earlier in Afghanistan. The Trump Administration, by contrast, never saw a theocracy or dictatorship it didn't like.

  55. The Kurds did the dirty work in the fight against ISIS while, "our allies", the Turks stood by and did nothing. Thousands of Kurds died in place of American soldiers. We need to honor our obligations to the Kurds for their sacrifices.

  56. Ok fine, we are abandoning the Kurds. What is your endgame here? If not today then when? There are no answers for these questions. The Kurds are just a series of bands of people spreads across multiple countries. They fight for their plot and they join those fighting the same enemy.

  57. The Kurds have been important allies of the US for decades, and have paid a huge cost for that support. Better to have a Kurd as an ally than an American.

  58. Very sad to see the US abandon the Kurdish people. Having done much of the heavy lifting against ISIS, they deserve much better from a POTUS who so often credits himself with defeating the Islamic State.

  59. @dan ...and this isn't the first time. It happened after Operation Desert Storm under President George H. W. Bush.

  60. @dan Today, I am reading and reminded of the classic costs of appeasement in Tim Bouverie's excellent study of Appeasement in his book of that title (2019). Trump's appeasement in the case of the Kurds will leave them to the same fate that Neville Chamberlain left to the Czech in 1938. The costs of appeasement do not fade away; they accumulate, until they are paid .In this case, those costs will be paid by the Kurds while the Russians, the Syrian regime, the Neo Ottomans, the Iranians gain whatever benefits are available. What will we gain? Like European appeasement in 1930- 1940, we achieve more shame in the Age of Trump and his enablers.

  61. Remarkable that a former US Marine points to changing ethnicity and to potential change in the makeup of the population in the 30 km wide buffer zone the Turks want to establish between Turkey and Syrian Kurdistan. Here I offer a few facts that I have learned from my many Kurdish friends from that part of Iraqi Kurdistan where Saddam Hussein, American ally so-to-speak, killed so many Kurds - look up Halabja and from a series of articles by Swedish-Israeli journalist Nathan Schachar reporting today in Dagens Nyheter p. A3 on the high risk gamble in which the US has just made its first move. Saddam Hussein had the support of the United States during the Iraq-Iran war and also when Hussein's chemical warfare units committed the Halabja (Iraqi Kurdistan) atrocity that also killed people in Iranian Kurdistan. Schachar observes that the small American units scattered in Syrian Kurdistan have been a tactical success, in stark contrast with most USA-Kurdish interactions. He observes that the scattered US units provided protection for the Kurds who had the main responsibility for putting down Daesh/ISIS in Syrian Kurdistan. The Kurds gave 10,000 lives to do this, the US a very small number. He also notes that Turkey wants to send Sunni Muslim (Arabic) Syrian refugees now in Turkey back to Syria but not where they came from but instead into the Kurdish territory. If you read Swedish, visit DN. Citizen US SE

  62. While people do an analysis of Turkey, Syria, ISIS, Kurds etc, and their relationship to each other Trump does none of those things. There is no process. He sits in the WH, tweets, talks on the phone, and sentences people to certain death without a care. The man is a monster.

  63. Trump's life is full of betrayals, why should the heroic Kurds be any difference.

  64. Perhaps the worst foreign policy directed by a President since we abandoned the Shah of Iran.

  65. Trump will forever be known as the "Backstabbing Blunderer of the West". Trump's treacherous betrayal of our allies the Kurd's left to ethnic cleansing by Turkey & the Russian Federation to save his hotels in Turkey while tens of thousands of Isis fighters are turned loose on the world to continue Jihad on the West. Our extremely stable genius made a Titanic mistake. His poll numbers will drop nine points.

  66. Trump betrays not only the Kurds, but also The Americans.

  67. Trump is telling Turkey that it's okay to slaughter the Kurds. He is tacitly approving genocide. Not all the talk of U.S. Interests changes that. People will die and it's on Trump.

  68. The PKK repeatedly targets Turkish civilians and has killed hundreds. What of that?

  69. Isn’t what Turkey about to do to the Kurds—thanks to Trump—a kind of ethnic cleansing? Are we—the US—now not—thanks to Trump—implicated in this violation of human rights by standing aside and abandoning our ally and friend? Was there not a time—before Trump—when it was official US policy to oppose ethnic cleansing, even with intervention if necessary? And the GOP can criticize Trump, well and good; but he is theirs and they are his. There is no functioning bi-partisan government, or even uni-partisan US government. There is Trump, and Trumpism, and the GOP continue to enable him. If the Kurds are attacked by Turkey, as seems likely, Trumpism has now become America. That is what is at stake in 2020.

  70. The poor Kurds were betrayed after the First World War when they were denied a country, then again after the first Gulf War, and now again. Oh, well.

  71. Trump has betrayed Americans and allies alike.

  72. Turkey, a member of NATO, helps you for a longer time in different areas (i.e. the Korean War). Please think from a wider perspective. Kurds (i mean the terror supporters) are only a pawn for the US for the short run, just for ISIS. Besides, if a group in the US wants to control a part of the US, what would be the reaction? For instance California? You are very biased and can't understand the real deal in here. Please write about Kardashians, J. Bieber or electronic cigs. These are bigger issues for the US, in my greatest opinion.

  73. There are 2 Trump Towers in Turkey. There are none in Kurdistan. Trump will not do anything to jeopardize his investments--and why should he? And Putin likes what Trump is doing--icing on the cake!

  74. I am so ashamed of this action by Trump. It is guaranteeing our allies will be killed. What a betrayal by Trump to those who are fighting against ISIS. Who wins with this action by Trump? Not the United States nor the Kurds. But Syria, Russia, and Turkey will. Gee, Russia wins again, thanks to Trump. Hmm.....

  75. This is saying alot to countries in NATO and those in the Pacific like Australia, NZ,, Japan and South Korea. But this was already changing because of Trump. A few months ago the weekly town hall style panel program on Australia's national broadcaster featured the topic: Does Australia need its own nuclear weapons? Apparently Japan, South Korea and Germany are having the same public conversation. That was never a conversation people had under Obama. Trump has made the world a much more dangerous place. Maybe forever.

  76. “The U.S. military has no plans to intervene if Syrian Kurdish forces abandon a constellation of Islamic State prisons in Syria to confront a possible Turkish invasion, officials said Tuesday.” The above was excerpted from an article published in todays Washington Post. By tomorrow morning 11,000 ISIS prisoners may be free and on the move unless our military disobeys Trumps treacherous order to depart the scene.

  77. Betrayal is not just a Trump disease. It's a national disgrace. The history of U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, is littered with examples of betrayal that go far beyond Realpolitik. Just this century, the U.S. betrayed Iran after receiving its crucial assistance post 9/11 to rid Afghanistan of the Taleban. Then it betrayed the Northern Alliance by switching hing attention to Iraq and allowing the Taleban back in to murder U.S. allies. Then it betrayed the Kurds following their assistance to the CIA in northern Iraq in 2003. It goes on and on. The world learned long ago that U.S. pronouncements are as valuable as toilet paper, and that it's every nation for itself. That's why the problems in Iran, Kurdestan, Yemen and Palestine are intractable. It is high time the dishonest Broker left the building.

  78. Headline should read: US betrays an ally at the Turkish Border. This one is on Trump but it will is perceived as US betrayed an ally. After all, US is not a dictatorship in which one guy can make all important foreign policy decisions on his own, right?...

  79. I appreciate & respect this columnist's integrity, passion, & service. But the most important question we can ask does having our troops in Syria, in harm's way, in life or death situations every day ...does that serve the national interest? The answer, of course, is absolutely not. How many of you reading this are willing to sacrifice your son or daughter for the Kurds, for Syrian freedom? Because that's what we're really talking about at the end of the day. More of our soldiers getting maimed or killed. The U.S. has been mired in the Middle East since the 1970s. What do we have to show for it? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing except the trillions of dollars we've wasted trying to solve this region's problems. Nothing except the thousands of American soldiers brought home in body bags. Nothing except the 900 billion we will spend on medical care & disability benefits for veterans who fought in the Middle East. And after all this wasted money & lives the region is as bad as it has ever been, worse. And the opposition's brilliant solution to this terrible ongoing tragedy is to waste more money, to put more boots on the ground, to put more American lives at risk. It's an unwinnable war, alost cause. We still have soldiers in Iraq & Afghanisran with no end in sight. Am I the only one who finds this revolting? We need to get out of Syria now, not next year, not next month, now! As John Kerry said about Vietnam "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

  80. Turkey is beginning the attack as we comment. Obeying orders was determined at Nuremberg to not be an excuse to harm civilians or engage in war crimes. The same may apply now. The military should disobey the order from Trump to leave the Kurds to be killed. On a more selfish note, they should not let the ISIS prisoners fall into Turkish control. They will unleash them upon the world. It would be a crime against humanity to allow that.

  81. This is what happens when we stop teaching critical thinking in our schools. Yes, there has been betrayal by an ally, but exactly who has betrayed whom? I agree that the Kurdish YPG militia are tough and have served us well as boots on the ground. The problem is that they are the Syrian branch of the PKK, which is an internationally acknowledged Marxist terrorist organization responsible for over 40,000 deaths in Turkey since the early '80s. In a nut shell we outsourced the ground war against ISIS to another terrorrist organization, which makes (lets call a spade a spade) US a State sponsor of terrrorism. We armed, trained, paid and protected this terrorist organization, which justifiably made the Turks livid. So our first betrayal was against our NATO ally Turkey. Now that ISIS has been destroyed as a military force, the Turks want us to remove the YPG from their boarder, and if we don't they threaten that they will. If we don't also want to betray the YPG and abandon them to the Turks I suggest we rollup our sleeves and persuade the YPG to withdraw from the safety corridor the Turks demand.

  82. Trump's only ally is Putin. Getting US eyes away from Russian intervention to crush Assad's enemies is Trump fulfilling Putin's orders.

  83. It is my understanding that the Turks HIRED Kurds to serve as freelance killers side-by-side in their shared mission to eliminate, through the first recorded genocide, Armenians from the Ottoman Empire. Kurds may have changed their ways somewhat, but the Turks, never. Being Armenian myself, the very reference to Ottoman in this column makes my blood run cold.

  84. Tonight, October 8, 2019, there are US news reports that Turkish AND Russian forces are poised to attack Kurdish held territory in Eastern Syria as US elements shielding our Kurdish allies and desert them on Trump’s orders. August 27-28 and September 16, 2019 Turkish President Erdogan met directly with Putin. Also on September 16th Putin, Erdogan and Iran President Rouhani are photographed standing shoulder to shoulder with their hands joined. There is no doubt that Putin has known how to and successfully has significantly influenced Trump to act in substantial ways to Putin’s/Russia’s benefit and the serious detriment of US international status and security. The US abandonment in Syria is a wholly unjustified geopolitical victory for Turkey, Iran and Russia; a victory wrought with dangers to Western European nations and US strategic influence, won by US blood, in the Mideast. Erdogan learned well from Putin on how to successfully manipulate Trump and our own grossly ignorant, incompetent president will have stained the United States soon with the blood of thousands of Kurds and the blood of hundreds of thousands in a future rationally possible.

  85. It’s certain that we can ‘t be trusted Once our bond with the Kurds was busted And it’s no mystery That Donald’s history Has our allies just plain disgusted

  86. The ISIS prisoners, held by the Kurds, are about to be unleashed upon the world. Get ready for terrorist attacks against US interests around the world. Get ready for Europe to be completely destabilized. The former Presidents might consider a joint letter. If they can’t agree, then individual ones should speak out. In my opinion, they should ask the intelligence and military communities to intervene against any orders that represent clear and present dangers. Leaving northern Syria to the Turks and Russians define a danger, clear, present , and made for Moscow, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia to benefit. The president is a traitor to his county and must be blocked from executing his current orders to abandon our security interests.

  87. This is just outrageous. It's shaking allies around the world too. Plus if the Middle East is further destabilized this will have a significant impact on oil and gas prices, which will harm the global economy but probably help Putin. I hope the GOP congressional reps wake up PDQ, but even more importantly, the voters. Even Republican voters must realize this is a terrible thing for Trump to have done, and it's going to hurt not only our allies in the region but risk increasing the power of ISIS again as well as the martinets Erdogan, Putin, and Assad. Was it only a few short years ago that the US stood for democracy, science, and human rights?

  88. I take it that Abed, who's happy to be moving to Istanbul, is not himself a Kurd. Erdogan is obsessed with the Kurds in the same way that Ahab was consumed with that whale. He treats his own Kurdish minority as second-class citizens and won't abide the idea that Kurds should have their own state, even if no Turkish real estate is involved. Indeed, the Turks have a long history of persecuting ethnic minority groups and this time the current sultan is fixated on a community who were of enormous help to our own disloyal president in "his" triumphant defeat of ISIS. Far from abandoning these people to Erdogan's tender mercies, we should be safeguarding the Kurds while allowing them to establish their own political entity from contiguous Kurdish-dominated areas in Iraq and Syria. And if Turkey's president has an objection to that agenda we can throw in the southeastern region of his country and let the Kurds have that, too.

  89. Heorge H.W. Bush betrayed Kurdish and Shia rebels in Iraq in 1991. Look what Saddam Hussein did to them. Erdogan will commit atrocities in the name of stopping the PKK, and Trump will get back to his latest self-inflicted disaster. We need a new era of reform concerning Presidential power. With Congress gridlocked, it will take a blue wave in the Senate and the end of the Filibuster, plus stacking the Supreme Court to be rid of the GOP and its corruption.

  90. Actually, Trump betrayed an ally to again align with another dictator. I am surprised he has not embraces Assad, as he has embraced Erdogen, Putin, Kim, Xi, House of Saud, et. al. It seems Trump worships dictators, and aspires to be one. Thus, he just took a valuable ally, the Kurdish people, and threw them under the bus. One has to wonder what he has talked to Erdogen about in a private phone call to get the goods on his opponents. Chances are good that Trump agreed to have the Kurdish people at Turkey's mercy, while the Turks dig up and give him dirt.

  91. It seems clear that Trump gives not a thought to what is in US interests. He thinks only of himself. It is pathological it seems. Nor does Trump trust in the expertise of anyone else. No, he is the supreme genius with the absolute best intuition, wisdom, good looks and every other superlative that he can imagine, even if he can't spell them correctly. The only thing that ever counts is Trump's own ego. Is it at risk of criticism? Can it get a stroke from his pandering sycophants or his largely uninformed and uneducated stadium of cheering supporters? So eleven thousand Kurds giving their very lives in our defense fighting ISIS so Trump can claim victory after involving only something like fifty US special forces on the ground was not worth even a single thought when Trump again seeking strokes to his ego from Erdogan and Trump's base essentially threw away the lives of our best allies in the region going back over many years. Republicans don't want any investigation into Trump's abuse of power yet that abuse continues day after day after day because Trump simply cannot ever see past his own fragile ego.

  92. Everyone associated with Trump eventually has their lives ruined - everyone. Sadly for the our allies the Kurds, they didn’t ask for this disaster of a President, but were saddled with him after a Russian-influenced election, as were we all. Abandoning them to possible destruction after their aid in both Iraq and Syria isn’t just stupid, it is cruel and immoral. And all for a couple days distraction from impeachment, plus a couple of Trump Towers. Trump is showing the entire world that the U.S. cannot be trusted to honor any agreement, alliance or treaty, and that his personal enrichment takes priority over all American interests. That already is and will continue to greatly diminish our power in the world.

  93. The USA never cared about Kurds, Zoroastrians, Coptic Christians, Ukrainians, Albanians, Pashtun, people in Latin America or any other marginalized group living thousands of miles away but to use them as perpetual spitball pawns in a partisan game against their political adversaries. Were the Kurds our allies when we backed Iraq against Iran? Pundits concerned over the plight of the Kurds would want the ‘United’ states to remain in Syria now? We owe it to everyone on the planet to leave all of the countries our military is currently occupying. Throughout my lifetime, every single conflict in which we have been involved has been made exponentially worse by our involvement. The Russian military has defeated ISIS. The Russian military was INVITED into the sovereign nation of Syria by the current regime because the USA along with the Gulf States had been arming, training, bankrolling and importing foreign jihadists into the country. Why were we ever allies with them to begin with? Because we cared about their plight? Should we remain in Afghanistan forever as well? Is the latest thing Trump has done the reason why you feel the need to complain?

  94. The USA never cared about Kurds, Zoroastrians, Coptic Christians, Ukrainians, Albanians, Pashtun, people in Latin America or any other marginalized group living thousands of miles away but to use them as perpetual spitball pawns in a partisan game against their political adversaries. Were the Kurds our allies when we backed Iraq against Iran? Pundits concerned over the plight of the Kurds would want the ‘United’ states to remain in Syria now? We owe it to everyone on the planet to leave all of the countries our military is currently occupying. Throughout my lifetime, every single conflict in which we have been involved has been made exponentially worse by our involvement. The Russian military has defeated ISIS. The Russian military was INVITED into the sovereign nation of Syria by the current regime because the USA along with the Gulf States had been arming, training, bankrolling and importing foreign jihadists into the country. Why were we ever allies with them to begin with? Because we cared about their plight? Should we remain in Afghanistan forever as well? Is the latest thing Trump has done the reason why you feel the need to complain?

  95. Memories are short but history is long. I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. I still remember my stomach turning as I watched on TV navy flight crew members pushing Huey helicopters off the landing deck when Saigon fell in April, 1975. to make more room for incoming helicopters to land. Civilians feel so self-righteous in their scorn for President Trump. They should have long ago picked up a history book on the Vietnam War before the country marched off to war after the 9/11 attacks. But as the late Gore Vidal used to say at the start of interviews when asked how things were going, he would sigh and reply with resignation, "I live in the United States of Amnesia." Americans, especially civilians, are by their very nature an ahistorical people. Yet we are a military empire in slow but steady decline since we abandoned the South Vietnamese people over four decades ago. And despite all the literature on the Vietnam War, Vietnam as a painful lesson in history seems to be a black hole in the consciousness of our nation. But my stomach also did flip-flops when the war hawks pivoted the country from the war in Afghanistan to the propaganda campaign for the invasion of Iraq. I knew these wars would spin out of control and we would one day face a foreign policy debacle on the order of the Vietnam War. Winston Churchill regretted that he didn't push harder for the establishment of Kurdistan after the end of the First World War when England began its decline as a military empire.

  96. @George Hoffman " Civilians feel so self-righteous in their scorn for President Trump. " But does that self-righteousness now seem misplaced? The people who said we did not need to get into a war in Viet Nam were insufferably self-righteous. And correct. Wouldn't it be easier to pay attention to the insufferable now, before we have to push helicopters into the sea?

  97. @George Hoffman It was during that time as well that Britain betrayed its Arab allies, to the everlasting shame of Lawrence; and the absurd borders of Iraq were drawn, with no regard for the religious and ethnic characteristics of the people.

  98. @George Hoffman The US never should have been in Vietnam in the first place. No good was done, no US strategic interest was served. The death and maiming of Vietnamese civilians was horrific as well as the over 50,000 American lives needlessly lost. I feel sorry for any American who had to participate in that worthless, destructive, needless war. The revisionist history that has become popular about how noble and winnable that war allegedly was, is flatly nauseating.

  99. We are in Syria illegally. We have no Security Council mandate, were not invited by the government nor did Congress approve it. We ended up there as the result of yet another attempted regime change disaster initiated by Hillary Clinton along with the phony "hope and change" Obama. A war crime, very illegal according to post WW2 treaties. It is not betrayal for us to demure from founding another ethnic-separatist conflict. Syria was an imperfect but multiethnic and secular sovereign state. Americans have no national, nor legal, nor moral mandate for deciding their future. When Obama began America's invasion of Syria he betrayed the people of Syria in order to support regime change and expand American power. Progressives should be alarmed by the bipartisan support for keeping American troops in Syria, even as defenders of Kurds, which is just an excuse to continue the neoconservative pursuit of overthrowing Assad and establishing a Sunni authoritarian state to oppress Syrian Shiites to satisfy Saudi Arabia's and Israel's regional hegemony. Trump is correct to call for ending 18 years of reckless 9/11 revenge wars. More than a million dead and more than 6 million displaced and dispossessed, and Europe left to absorb the refugees is more than enough American exceptionalism. The US public isn't going to endorse a war for the Kurds, nor should they. The Kurds, as mercenaries were part of the illegal US-backed aggression and terrorism. Best they can hope for is make up with Assad.

  100. @Chris This is an agenda driven simplification of the situation. For whatever reasons, and they really don't matter, the Kurds were our allies in the fight against ISIS. And for that they deserve our help.

  101. US did not invade Syria; it was the Arab Spring of pro-democracy protests and Assad particularly violently put them down triggering civil war and the US hoped to help the protesters get rid of Assad but ended up dealing with ISIS instead.

  102. @Sherry Oh Sherry. Are you really that naive and uninformed? "Arab Spring of pro-democracy protests"? How can a regime change operation be called a civil war? If Obama and crew hadn't funded the people who protested Assad none of this would be happening. The Kurds may have fought ISIS, but we armed and funded them in the first place. This Romanticism with the Kurds has to stop in Western Media. It's only contributing to the "forever war".We used The Kurds like we used the OG Taliban/ Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to do our dirty work and the Kurds are no more savory. If people are going to write about something I think they should get the facts straight.

  103. To claim that the Kurds "loyally allied" with the United States in Iraq and Syria is intellectually akin to claiming that George Washington's Continental Army "loyally allied" with the French at Yorktown during the Revolutionary War! In what conflict did the Kurds EVER "loyally ally" with the United States that was not conducted against an opponent that was not a mortal enemy of the Kurds? Both Saddam Hussein and ISIS attempted to eviscerate the Kurdish population. The Kurds simply fought in their own interest.

  104. @Hayekian von Mises ISIS didnt attempt to eviscerate the kurdish population. The kurds just wanted ISIS territory. I agree the kurds used USA training and funding to accomplish their own goals. Unless there was a clear promise to protect them from turkey we dont owe them anything. They are still far better off having allied with the US since theyve made enemies out of every one of their neighbors.

  105. @wgs The Kurds that will be annihilated in the Turkish attack will not be better off. Allies are not lovers, they only have shared interests, often for limited periods of time. Trump has just demonstrated to all current and future potential allies that the United States cannot be trusted. What do you think that does to our national security? Whose interests do you think this serves?

  106. @Hayekian von Mises - Trump declared that the war on ISIS had been won. In Syrian Kurdistan, according to a careful analysis by Swedish-Israeli journalist Nathan Schachar in today's Dagens Nyheter p. A3, the Kurds gave up 10,000 lives to "win the war" against ISIS/Daesh. ISIS was and is the mortal enemy of every so-called Western democracy, even the USA. Of course during the Saddam Hussein regime, the US gave its support to Saddam Hussein even when he was killing Kurds in Halabja and even in adjacent Iran. There is no nation Kurdistan so there could be no alliance between the USA and such a nation. By the way, I just put the article into Word and the phrase "loyally allied" does not occur. Apparently that is your invention. I do agree that if I had been editing the draft for this article I would have emphasized that the US never gave the Kurds anywhere the support that they deserved. The US support in Syrian Kurdistan was given because the US understood that Daesh/ISIS was and is an international threat so if Kurds were willing to give up 10,000 lives in Syria, the US could for once support them in small ways - with good result. Otherwise the Kurds always have to fight in their own interest. What is wrong with that? Citizen US SE

  107. The USA never cared about Kurds, Zoroastrians, Coptic Christians, Ukrainians, Albanians, Pashtun, people in Latin America or any other marginalized group living thousands of miles away but needs to use them as perpetual spitball pawns in a partisan game against their political adversaries. Were the Kurds our allies when we backed Iraq against Iran? Pundits concerned over the plight of the Kurds would want the ‘United’ states to remain in Syria now? We owe it to everyone on the planet to leave all of the countries our military is currently occupying. Throughout my lifetime, every single conflict in which we have been involved has been made exponentially worse by our involvement. The Russian military has defeated ISIS. The Russian military was INVITED into the sovereign nation of Syria by the current regime because the USA along with the Gulf States had been arming, training, bankrolling and importing foreign jihadists into the country. Why were we ever allies with them to begin with? Because we cared about their plight? Should we remain in Afghanistan forever as well? Is the latest thing Trump has done the reason why you feel the need to complain?

  108. @Michael Sorensen Well put, but you forgot that we as Americans are "exceptional", a "shiny beacon on the hill", and the "indispensable nation", so it's our God-given right to interfere in everyone else's business, whether they like it or not.

  109. How many times is this that we've betrayed the one group in the middle east that has been a stalwart ally and a small beacon of democracy and tolerance? This goes back to before bush 1. If we are going to "nation build" in that part of the world, they are the only ones that might actually make a go of it. The rest will be wracked by ethnic and religious intolerance as we have seen for decades.

  110. It's safe to say that most Americans have no idea of the history between Turkey and the Kurds, which is why so many view Trump's recent decision to simply abandon them to their fates with nothing short of indifference. But there's no way to deny the fact that without the help and sacrifice of the Peshmerga, the military forces of the autonomous Kurdish Region, the fight against ISIS would have turned out differently. That the U.S. can now simply pull up stakes from one day to the next without taking into consideration the effect it will have on the entire region is nothing, if not precipitous and there's every reason to fear its long-lasting results. Not only because it means the release of hundreds, if not thousands of imprisoned ISIS fighters now being held by the Kurds, but the all-out genocide of Syrian refugees about to take place by Turkish forces under the command of Recep Tayip Erodgan, who will soon be a guest of Donald Trump in the White House in November. This is not only the betrayal of an ally at the Turkish border, it's pouring salt in the wound.

  111. @N. Smith Armenian massacre 2.0

  112. trump is clueless when it comes to international diplomacy. The military and armed forces are simply an extension of international diplomacy and are used in locales that only understand strong, armed resistance or need the military to police them to maintain the peace or status quo. In this instance the Kurds have won the war against ISIS and were guarding the last remaining combatants. My oh my how trump has flubbed this arrangement and has now unleashed ISIS again and put us all in danger. trump seems more interested in protecting his trump towers in Istanbul than protecting America.

  113. President Trump is basically right on this one. The U.S. should not be intervening between Turkey and the Kurds. And U.S. forces have no business in Syria, a country that has not attacked the U.S., as its government does not want American forces there. To the extent we have legitimate concerns about ISIS terror threats, since the Syria government and its allies oppose ISIS, we should cooperate with them and facilitate their stamping out of ISIS. And if we have genuine terror concerns, it would be nice to stop giving de facto aid to groups that can plausibly be viewed as Al Qaeda-like.

  114. @Smilodon U.S. forces should never have been in Syria against the wishes of the Syrian government. All we can do in 2019 is work with what has been handed to us. Prescience is a two-way street. Just as we should have known better, the Kurds could have known better before seeking out and accepting help.

  115. Perhaps. But we should make this decision before we get involved, not after. It’s one thing to decline to help. Completely another to get in the middle of it, promise our allies we’d help protect them, then change our mind without warning. Who in their right mind will trust us to be a good ally in the future after this?

  116. @Rob The Syrian government is a blood-stained tyranny that has engaged in wholesale atrocities. Given the choice between siding with them or the Kurds to stamp out ISIS, the Kurds are the obvious choice.

  117. The Kurdish soldier's sigh runs in blood down the white house walls.

  118. And sadly, Trump voters are very okay with it.

  119. Its almost like Trump is working against US interests.

  120. Richard Holbrooke is pining for another Dayton Accord to resolve this issue. Could Turkey absorb the Sanjak of Aleppo, associated borderlands and Idlib. The 2-3 million Syrian refugees vetted and populate these areas. Assad figures a “rump” state is better than no state at all.

  121. Great article from someone who knows well what he speaks. Bravo Zulu, Elliot.

  122. Trump’s arm must be getting sore from throwing so many folks under the bus. So crowded under there, too! His solution? Buy a new bus and stiff the manufacturer.

  123. Erdogan's Turkey is no ally of the West.

  124. Trump ultimately betrays everyone. Look at how he treats the men and women he brought into his cabinet. How he betrays his voters by running up massive new debts, damaging their businesses, enriching the super rich at the detriment of everyone else. He is betraying the Kurds, soon the Afghans, and the Iraqi’s. This is just who Trump is. It is what the Republican Party stands for. Everyone is the enemy. Play them for fools, and then bury them. MAGA!

  125. @John Morton And yet he still has a reasonable chance of being re-elected. The mind boggles.

  126. No, the Kurds have conducted armed struggle against Turkey ever since The Republic's Inception. Their demands have nominally included the southeastern quadrant of the country's entire land mass. In this context, their on- and- off pacific requests for 'ethnic identity' is prima facie absurd. Simply put, the Turks now want them off of their border--so which word can the Americans not understand? Otherwise, this has nothing to do with either of the present idiots governing their respective nations. The Turkish military feels that they can deal with both ISIS and Syria, thereby resolving the enormous refugee problem that the war has caused. Simply put, the Americans have been given long enough; yet all they seem to want to do is maintain a 'presence' for presence sake. So as they say in Turkey, this bus is going to the garage...

  127. @bill harris And the Kurds are going to their graves

  128. Unfortunately, Trump's experience as a NYC real estate developer is what informs his speech and actions as president. Strong words may work when negotiating air rights for a new Trump hi rise. However, the condional threats of retaliation he has directed at Turkey will not bring back the life of even one of the Kurds who are killed as a result of his arbitrary abandonment of these tested and proven allies.

  129. Who's kidding whom? The US has an active military presence in one-hundred-fifty nations throughout the world. The Kurds fought ISIS for the US. They were the infantry--who incurred significant casualties--eventually enabled by US funds and arms. Syria is listed as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979. Bashar Assad, like Ghaddafi, was supposed to go down as part of Arab Spring. But he hung on, with the aid of Hezbollah, Russia, and Iran. As with so many conflicts in this region, the primary conflict is between Shia and Sunni Muslims. If the US withdraws, the same thing will happen as we witnessed in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal and in Iraq after the US withdrawal. Syria will devolve into another kind of tribal conflict. As for Turkey, it does not have a good history of ethnic tolerance. No one has forgotten the Ottomans and the Armenian genocide.

  130. An American withdrawal from Syria clearly benefits Putin, Iran, Assad and Erdogan. And if it ends in a Kurdish bloodbath, Trump will be responsible for the genocide. He won't find anyone else to blame for this one.

  131. @Christy . Of course he will. He will never take responsibility for the likely genocide he has given the green light to. It's always somebody else's fault, never his.

  132. Unfortunately, many of the Trump supporters disrespect education and have little knowledge of foreign affairs. They flock to his philosophies of isolation and protectionism, ignoring the importance of alliances and loyalty to those alliances. Impeachment is unlikely to occur;he must be defeated at the polls.

  133. "Endless wars" is completely the wrong way to look at things like this. It's called "maintaining global stability" - which America has done extremely well for the last 60+ years. Whilst there is an argument that America has borne more than its fair share of the cost of this, it's unarguable that America has been the primary beneficiary of a stable world. What Trump is doing is ripping up the fabric that stops world wars from happening and leaving us at the mercy of despots like Putin, Erdogan, and Kim Jong Un.

  134. Here is the question to answer. Should the US have stayed there forever just to protect the Kurds? Who would reinburse the US for staying in the area just to protect the Kurds.

  135. @Judy Weller, The Kurds did our military work. We should have helped them form their own country so that they could take care of themselves and be our ally if ISIS returns. Now, if we want to rid the region of a renewed ISIS it will be us to send the troops. No one in that Region will trust us for a couple of generations at least. Perfidy is our policy under Trump and the world knows it -- indeed see it in Syria at this moment.

  136. A few choices of how to deal with this Trumpian mistake: Give all Kurds, from Syria or Turkey US citizenship if they want it. Use our influence to get Bibi to give them all Israeli citizenship if they move to the West Bank, which will soon be annexed. That would modernize the native Palestinian population, and make them more open to accepting Western allies. While we're at it, I would also offer US citizenship to all Yazidis. All said half in jest, but not entirely in jest. Both groups deserve far better, and Trump has only made things worse for them. (Remember when, a few weeks ago, Trump asked a Yazidi where is her family..and she had to repeat to him they were all killed.)

  137. Turkey may not be 'our' friend but trump certainly wants Turkey to be HIS friend. trump Tower Istanbul depends upon it. So does Putin's continued grace.

  138. Even if this is the best policy to pursue, it is painfully obvious that this is the worst way to accomplish it.

  139. I have an open mind. Maybe there is an acceptable rationale to Trump's decision...or not. But, what this looks like should make all Americans consider that if it ok for an American President to isolate himself and on his own give orders to have the military do whatever he wants. What's next? Is Trump going to post the military around the whitehouse in order to invoke some paranoid conspiracy against him? Based on Trump's pattern of behavior, there is every reason to suspect that Trump's decision to greenlight the Turks has more to do with Trump than our national interest. Once again, the temperature that measures Trump as a threat to our nation has risen. Are we going to be conned like a frog thrown into a pot of cold water with the burner ablaze? I wonder what the top brass is thinking right at this minute. Am I one day going to have utter those tragic words, "I was just following orders?" What are they thinking?

  140. Yes, we (read Trump, have betrayed the Kurds. Why will anyone trust us in the future?

  141. What's new about this? Trump's history of stiffing his contractors was written about extensively in 2016. The Republican Party and American voters decided that they preferred a liar, cheater and fraudster for president. Betraying those who work with and for you is a Trump tradition. He calls it smart business.

  142. Trump and the Republicans are certainly not above lying and dirty dealing to gain their ends. The results have paid off handsomely. By comparison, the Democrats appear to be a bunch of wimps afraid they might do the wrong thing. They have tons of evidence to throw at the Republicans. About time they got on with it.

  143. The decision is not whether it is time to move our troops from that area, it is the 'matchless wisdom' claim of this malignant narcissist that is frightening. As an incarnate Greek god Narcissus, Trump has no need of experts to advise him of critical decisions... As for Erdogan, he his the penultimate leader of racial cleansing of non-Turks. He has ordered the burning down of many Kurdish villages in Eastern Turkey, has imprisoned 10's of thousands of opposition leaders (Kurds and non-Kurds). Exhibits the same spirit of racial cleansing conducted in the early 20th century,by his predecessors, like the massacre of all Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians in Turkey.... And Trump speaks of 'moderation'for Erdogan as he decimates the Syrian Kurds...and Turkey is our ally!

  144. We do it all the time example from history: Native Americans who helped Jackson, bushwacked!

  145. Interesting how one of the beneficiaries of Trump’s decision is Russia.

  146. When was the Constitution amended to permit the US military to spend blood and treasure on behalf of any foreign entity? I must've missed it...

  147. Trump is a menace globally and domestically. The Republicans are his equals collaborating with his obstruction of Justice. Trump's gut and spontaneous responses with regard to the Kurds may end in genocide. Historically Turkey has committed genocide in the past with the Armenians who barely survived.

  148. The Kurds are only our "ally" because the Iraqi's were too incompetent and corrupt to defend their country or fight ISIS. So we got stuck depending on the Kurds. Now we are suppose to defend the Kurds against our NATO ally Turkey. There has never been peace in the Middle East and there probably never will be. We need to get out NOW.

  149. Had we left our South Vietnamese allies, the Mung, to die in Vietnam at the end of that war, we would have done what Trump did yesterday to the Kurds. They face a horrifying future because Trump is a fool and a coward.

  150. We are a Democracy. This man was voted in as POTUS with the mechanisms of our Democracy. He represents us. All of us. In the worlds eyes, he is acting on the will of the people who chose him to lead. Even those of us that did not vote for him and those that did, have blood on their hands. I will not be sleeping well this evening. We will be working to regain the trust of the world for a very long time when he is gone. If he is reelected, we will never be trusted by the allies we have had or will try to have ever again. VOTE

  151. @JDH The last time I looked, Russian interference in our elections had NOTHING to do with our Democracy.

  152. @N. Smith But when one of our political parties accepts, even welcomes, that interference it is us.

  153. @Cfiverson No. it's not me -- nor the majority of Americans who don't support this happening. VOTE!

  154. Yes, just as you left the Tibetans to fend for themselves in 1961, the Hmong, the Nungs, the other "Montagnard" tribes and the South Vietnamese themselves in 1975, indeed the Afghans after the Soviet Union withdrew in 1989. The so called marsh Arabs in southern Iraq in 1991 (Shiites, by the way, but not Persians), who, because of your departure, were severely punished by Saddam Hussein and who turned to the Irani co-religionists for help. The list does go on. And now you're sacrificing the Kurds. Before long you'll hand Afghanistan "back to the Afghans", too, but these will be the very Taliban you set out to destroy in 2001. The problem though is not that you abandon these brave people. It is that you're not clear in your own minds as to what you're trying to achieve. So you got stuck into the civil war in Syria, and you identified both Al Qaeda and IS as threats and you enlisted the Kurds, among many, to do the dirty work. But what is or was the endgame? Also, what did you promise your allies would be in this for them? And could you actually make that promise? For sure, abandoning the Kurds is cowardly and shows you up as unreliable, but what did you win? Except the opportunity for the military-industrial complex to rake in the moolah?

  155. Don’t let this happen! The slaughter will be on your head, Republicans. Why would I think you would stop this? You have crushed the Constitution and are protecting a megalomaniac, crazy person in the Oval Office. Turning your back on the Kurds, though, is villainy at its worst.

  156. We have been down this road before. US leaders again show little knowledge of history. We looked the other way for yrs when the Syrians were being killed by the Assads. We looked the other way when the Kurds were being murdered by Hussein. The stable genius (ST) knows nothing about the plight of the Kurds. Erdogan wants the US out of the way so that he can attack the Kurds. Turkey too has a history of massacring the Kurds. It doesn’t matter to the ST that the Kurds have been on the battle front against ISIS and helping us. Why support an ally when the he can help out his dictator pal? What favors does the ST owe the Turks? Could there be a connection between his businesses? There must be one because in 2012 Ivanka tweeted: "Thank you Prime Minister Erdogan for joining us yesterday to celebrate the launch of #TrumpTowers Istanbul!" And I can’t help but wonder how Flynn’s involvement in Turkey might fit in? I didn’t support the invasion of Iraq. However I believe that we have a moral obligation to help our allies and to fix the disaster that we exacerbated when we invaded that country. See: ivanka-trump-tweet-thanking-turkey-erdogan-attending-istanbul-trump-towers-launch-syria-controversy-1463536

  157. Turkish, Ottoman, American. Maybe someday we'll view one another as Human.

  158. Now our crooked, lying "president" will have blood on his hands. Kurdish blood. And what of the THOUSANDS of ISIS fighters they're still holding? You'll never guess what happens next.

  159. When did Congress formally declare war on Syria?

  160. @JQGALT They haven't. They're too busy declaring war on this country and Americans who disagree with this president.

  161. An actual soldier and man of conscience reminding us what an ally is - describing what betrayal is - and warning us of the slaughter to come, as Donald Trump rolls out the red carpet, and erases the red line, for a fellow dictator. It goes far beyond #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend, Ms. Haley: #TrumpIsIimmoral.

  162. Pursue the transcript of the Erdogan call and you will find the reason for the overnight betrayal of the Kurd's. Trump put the Kurd's on the brink of genocide.

  163. Didn't Trump assert he totally eliminated ISIS?

  164. You have to wish the Trump boys were Kurd's. This man does not care about killing our friend's.....or anyone else. It is disgusting behavior fit for the mob, not the presidency. Betrayal of Allies. It hurts every US citizen who understands the meaning and value of friendship. Trump has no real friend's. I am devastated imagining the coming massacre. Once again the world sees the ugly American.

  165. The Kurds had our back against ISIS. Trump just stabbed them in theirs.

  166. Too bad that the Kurdish commander didn't have a phone call with Trump. They'd be invading Turkey today with American air support. Shameful.

  167. This will go down as one of history's great betrayals like when the Russians marched to Warsaw and encouraged the Poles to rebel against the Germans knowing the Germans would slaughter the mostly anti-Communist resistance or Bush Sr.'s encouragement of southern Iraqis to rebel against Saddam only to abandon the rebels as Saddam slaughtered the them.

  168. This "change- the- focus" action by trump is his usual behavior when he is threatened by serious attacks on his office, this time the impeachment process. This was done without approval by his advisors. Do you really want this country led by one intellectually hobbled egomaniac ?

  169. Kissinger betrayed the Kurds in Iran in the 1960s. The trouble with the Kurds is their always in the Whey.

  170. President Trump should have approved Turkish operation on the condition that Erdogan negotiates with Kurds, both in Turkey and Syria, and establish peace honoring their legitimate rights. Turkey had to do something about the 4 million Syrian refugees. It can't keep them permanently. This is not the first time we have abandoned an ally. We have done many times before. Our alliances are of convenience for the short run. Let us not over react.

  171. I agree with everyone who thinks we never should have been in Syria to begin with, but since when do Americans abandon their allies on the battlefield to be slaughtered? Why would China, N. Korea, Iran or anyone else want to work deals with Donald Trump when he proves over and over he cannot be trusted? This is a very dark day in American history.

  172. Turkish soldiers fought with us side by side in Korea. They opened their air bases to us during the Cold War. They were the defending power against the spread of communism in Europe and Middle East. They also have been our partners in research, technology and economy. Whoever says that Kurds are more important allies to us is being unfair.

  173. @James And Turkey just obtained a Russian surface-to-air missile system that can take out NATO aircraft, while Erdogan becomes increasingly like the dictator he is in his own self-styled Caliphate by cracking down on journalists and dissidents. And now he's going to be Trump's guest at the White House. There's no end to this president's treachery.

  174. @James Yes, you are correct about Turkey. The Kurds played that same role for us in Iraq and Syria as Turkey did in Korea. What is needed is skillful, imaginative U.S. diplomacy and thinking to persuade Turkey that the Kurds are NOT their enemy but potentially a very useful ally in securing the Turkish homeland while at the same time seeing the establishment of a peaceful, democratic Kurdish homeland alongside Turkey. We American voters haven't elected anyone, Republican nor Democratic, who has had the skill, intelligence, political will or imagination to push Turkey and the Kurds to see their way forward together in cooperation and partnership. Trump has come along and made a festering wound worse. Shame on him for doing that, shame on us for electing him and giving him the opportunity.

  175. @James Those aren't the people running Turkey any more. Erdogan seems more like an ally of ISIS than the United States.

  176. Erdogan thinks he needs a military victory to shore up his political base which is eroding because he has wrecked the Turkish economy. He will learn that military adventures are never as easy as they first appear. The Kurds may not have the weapon systems the Turks have but they are war hardened fighters fighting for their freedom. ISIS has shown what motivated fighters can do. The Syrian Kurds were not allied with the PKK as Erdogan claimed to justify his war. After this they will be. I predict after a few seemingly easy victories the Turkish military which will get bogged down fighting a guerrilla war with the Kurds. The Turkish response will be to slaughter civilians. If I were the Syrian Kurds I would escort the 10,000 ISIS fighters they hold captive to the Iraqi border and let them loose as revenge for Trump’s betrayal. This will get very ugly for a lot of people and our allies around the world now know that the US will not support them in a crisis.

  177. While this is, by and large, a clear-eyed and informed take on Trump's latest episode of cowering before actual autocrats, many would take exception to the following construction: "so we abandoned the Afghans to their own civil war, creating conditions that led to the rise of the Taliban and the Sept. 11 attacks" While this is a technically true statement, the adjacency of the "rise of the Taliban" and 9/11 very strongly implies a direct connection between these two phenomena. The Taliban are what happens when we break out the expensive weaponry, allowing it to be used to utterly annihilate the infrastructure of what had once been a civilization and then leave the survivors to their rubble and the bafflingly complex web of resentments that were all they had left. 9/11 was carried out by a collective of Arab malcontents with a whole host of varied and often conflicting resentments almost entirely related to the grotesque abuses of their home governments and with only a tangential relationship to afghans and the Taliban. It was an Arab strike at an Arab target that by the power of metonymy and delusion was located on U.S. east coast. George W Bush & his advisers displayed a similar lack of nuance & understanding in implicating the Taliban in 9/11 & Afghans continue to pay with their lives. Let's try not to double down on this nonsense.

  178. Donald's first consideration is the base. Will this make the MAGA crowd happy? Betraying an ally? Mocking the congress? In Trump world what's not to like?

  179. @wilt You forgot to mention Trump Towers Istanbul.

  180. Didn’t we do the same to the Montagnards In Vietnam after allying with us and the Green Berets. It’s the new American strategy. Run and abandon.

  181. Your point is good but could be extended to the South Vietnamese people generally. To believe that the war in Vietnam was unwise is one thing, but to defend the way we left, with American personnel rushing to be the last allowed on the helicopters leaving the embassy in Saigon, and with those South Vietnamese, military and civilian, who had aided us until we fled, being left behind for execution or labor camps, is surely one of the most shameful episodes of our history. And this is the same.

  182. Based on observation of Trump's behavior in office and prior to taking office, he sold out our allies for one of three reasons. 1. Putin told him to. 2. Somebody paid him off, either explicitly, with cash or other considerations routed through his Istanbul hotel property or some other part of his byzantine collection of tax-evading shell corporations, or possibly with a "favor" of the kind he's demanded from Ukraine and China in exchange for influence over official actions in his role as president. 3. He's benefiting in some other way -- such as keeping Kompromat (Russian term for compromising blackmail material) under wraps. It could be more than one of these, of course. Agents acting for dictatorial bosses have been known to skim some cream for themselves in the process. But one truth we have all learned about Trump is that he never does anything for any reason other than personal benefit for himself.

  183. @Felix 110% Truth you speak.

  184. @Felix Thank you for your incisive comment---which all makes perfect sense!

  185. @Felix How about #4 All of the above? Trump's corruption covers many alternatives.

  186. Trump's betrayal of our major ally in the fight against ISIS is a "high crime" in its blatant abuse of power that's not in our national security interest and is opposed by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, as well as a likely "crime against humanity" as the Turks begin what amounts to an ethnic-cleansing campaign against the Kurds in northern Syria. House Democrats must make this an article of impeachment. It is more serious crime than the Trump-Zelensky conversation on getting Ukrainian election help; it's just a transparent and easy for the public to grasp; and, most importantly, it represents an issue that Senate Republicans will now be hard-pressed to reject and then to exonerate Trump for without looking like complete hypocrites worthy of being turned out of office.

  187. @Paul Wortman I appreciate & respect this columnist's integrity, passion, & service. But the most important question we can ask does having our troops in Syria, in harm's way, in life or death situations every day ...does that serve the national interest? The answer, of course, is absolutely not. How many of you reading this are willing to sacrifice your son or daughter for the Kurds, for Syrian freedom? Because that's what we're really talking about at the end of the day. More of our soldiers getting maimed or killed. The U.S. has been mired in the Middle East since the 1970s. What do we have to show for it? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing except the trillions of dollars we've wasted trying to solve this region's problems. Nothing except the thousands of American soldiers brought home in body bags. Nothing except the 900 billion we will spend on medical care & disability benefits for veterans who fought in the Middle East. And after all this wasted money & lives the region is as bad as it has ever been, worse. And the opposition's brilliant solution to this terrible ongoing tragedy is to waste more money, to put more boots on the ground, to put more American lives at risk. It's an unwinnable war. We still have soldiers in Afghanistan with no end in sight. Am I the only one who finds this revolting? We need to get out of Syria now, not next year, not next month, now! As John Kerry said about Vietnam "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

  188. @Bill Brown Sorry Bill, but cannot disagree with you more on the manner in which this was done. This administration could have paved the way for this withdrawal but instead this president used this abrupt change in plans to deflect from what is happening here at home. Thoughtless, ill advised and a complete surprise to the Pentagon. This will not make us safer. Isis will gain a stronghold and the Kurds will fight for whomever will have their back. Do not make the mistake of thinking that ISIS is so weakened that they could not come back to attack us on our soil, as Al-Quaeda did. Why can we not learn from our past?

  189. @ponchgal No question that Trump bungled the withdrawal. But the bigger issue is should we have boots on the ground in Syria? The answer is absolutely not. It's a quagmire that will go on for years with no end in sight. I'm all for arming the Kurds. I'm all for lobbing missles into ISIS strongholds. But I'm not for any military strategy that will cost more American lives. If we had never gone into Iraq we would not have had to go into Syria. Next year it will be another country. Like you said why can we not learn from our past?

  190. Trump's action betraying the Kurds is THE exemplar of the insidious idiocy dominating American foreign policy (and indeed, contemporary "post-modern nationalism" prevalent in international politics altogether) today. Yet our current American curse is far deeper than America - it is the curse of empire altogether. Pericles said it best: power tyrannizes the tyrant. “And do not imagine that what we are fighting for is simply the question of freedom or slavery: there is also involved the loss of our empire and the dangers arising from the hatred which we have incurred in administering it. Nor is it any longer possible for you to give up this empire, though there may be some people who in a mood of sudden panic and in a spirit of political apathy actually think that this would be a fine and noble thing to do. Your empire is now like a tyranny: it may have been wrong to take it; it is certainly dangerous to let it go.” (. . . as reported by Thucydides, in The Peloponnesian War)

  191. Donald trump is a clear and present danger to our allies and ironically to America. There is no question about that and his supporters should truly be appalled!

  192. Trump is only concerned with himself. Got it? Him self. He made a deal with Erdogen, something to do with enriching himself. A Trump Tower in Istanbul? Erdogan can enrich Trump. The Kurds can't. Erdogan wins.