Turning Away

If given a map of the world, many Americans could not correctly label the nations of Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran yet countless American lives have been lost fighting for these ancient lands.  The “Cradle of Civilization” is also a cradle of turmoil and war.  For centuries various ethnic groups and religions within these nations have fought among themselves.  Under President Trump American forces formed an alliance with the Kurdish population that straddles Northern Syria, Western Iraq and Southern Turkey.  Armed with American weaponry, Kurdish forces fought with U.S. forces to defeat ISIS militants and bring an end to their caliphate.  Turkish President Erdogan has viewed the Kurds as a threat to his ability to remain in power.  Erdogan survived a previous coup in 2016 and has been paranoid over the possibility of another potential attempt.  Although a NATO member, Erdogan rules more like a dictator than a democratic leader as is characteristic of most NATO nations.  There are terrorist members within the Kurdish population and with that in mind Erdogan plotted a military operation to create a “buffer zone” along Turkey’s southern border.  Erdogan’s move was nothing less than an “ethnic cleansing” of Kurds who may have eventually sought their own country.  Such a move would have come at the cost of Turkish territory and influence.  The October 6 phone call with President Trump was a warning that invasion was inevitable.  The President pulled American troops (only numbering a few hundred at most) out of harms way.  Had Turkish troops injured or killed American forces, we could have had a serious situation with a NATO ally.  The President was likely misled at the level of force and the number of casualties inflicted by Turkey’s invasion into Northern Syria.  The refugee crisis in the region was made substantially worse by an insecure dictator.  The President was elected on a platform of ending senseless wars in a region that never has (and never will) see peace.  We can’t solve religious and ethnic issues that may have been simmering for decades if not centuries.

I don’t know all the details regarding the troop pullback and refuse to be critical of our commander in chief.  I am always amazed how members of Congress can be so self-righteous over the President’s decisions when they can’t make a single decision of their own.  Our President is asked to make critical decisions on a daily (sometimes momentary) basis and Congress can’t pass a simple budget.  Trump continues to fulfill his campaign promises and keep American values and needs first.  That isn’t easy when you are taking incoming from all sides, but the President was caught between two allies, the Kurds and the Turks.  We need to make sure that Erdogan stops his incursion after he achieves his goal.  Other NATO members need to stand with us and not reward him for his belligerent, cruel behavior.  We can’t be the world’s cop in a region we don’t understand and (for the most part) are not wanted.

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