Being a U.S. ally certainly doesn’t mean what it used to.
I mean, this isn’t news to anyone, right? After all, our president ran his whole campaign on “America First” and putting our alliances under scrutiny – alliances that his predecessors spent years and billions of dollars building.
In all my effort to be as fair as possible, I will lead my rant with a disclaimer: It is not America’s role to police the globe. At the time of writing, the United States has troops deployed in over 150 countries, with over 170,000 personnel serving outside of the United States. This is too many on both accounts, and I am a firm believer that it is not our country’s place to overextend ourselves like this. Not only does this recklessly contribute to our massive defense expenditures, but it needlessly puts America’s young men and women in harm’s way.
But, abandoning and coercing some of our closest and most desperate allies is absolutely shameful.
What kind of president withholds their promised aid in exchange for dirt on a rival presidential candidate? How can someone ignore warning after warning that our presence in Syria was the only thing preventing Turkey from invading and displacing hundreds of thousands of people? The very same people who bore some of the heaviest burdens in fighting the Islamic State.
Turkey has repeatedly expressed interest in invading northern Syria to establish a “safe zone” where they can resettle Syrian refugees who have been living in Turkey since the outbreak of the civil war. In reality, this operation is nothing more than creating a buffer between Kurdish militias in Syria and their alleged allies in southern Turkey. There is little mention on the Turkish side that this operation would require forcibly removing the Kurdish populations in northern Syria from their homes.
The only thing stopping this horrendous ethnic cleansing from happening was the small but meaningful contingent of American troops stationed on the Syrian-Turkish border to bolster the Kurdish presence there. Once Trump announced he was removing troops from Syria, there was nothing standing in Ankara’s way to enforce their will, even if it meant shelling an American position to get them to leave a little faster.
Frankly, it is mind-boggling that President Trump would let the situation in Syria come to this. This betrayal of the Kurdish people is an absolute monstrosity, and as far as we know, there was no executive or military effort to restrain Trump from putting our allies at Erdogan’s mercy. None.
What’s more, a pillar of our geopolitical strength in the Middle East vanished completely overnight. Facing utter annihilation, the Kurdish militias have decided to allow Syrian and Russian troops to enter their de facto territory to keep the Turkish invaders at bay. In the blink of an eye, Trump has allowed Russia to bring our most dependable ally in the region into their fold, created yet another rift in NATO and shown the world that we are ready to abandon our allies the minute they become inconvenient for us.
Now, Syria is on the verge of yet another humanitarian disaster. Less than a week after the invasion, 130,000 Kurds have been displaced, and the Iraqi government is bracing itself for as many as a quarter million people to cross into its territory to seek refuge. This does not even include the several people who have been killed and those who will inevitably be caught in the crossfire if nothing is done to deter Turkey’s course of action.
President Trump’s masterful geopolitical strategy at work, ladies and gentlemen.
When it’s all said and done, this is all just one act in a continuous string of our president’s foreign policy blunders. I have said before that I’m skeptical of Trump’s commitment to find viable solutions to complicated issues, and I stand by that today more than ever. Whether its building personal relationships with brutal tyrants, setting fire to our most lucrative free trade agreements, blackmailing our allies for an edge in the presidential election or turning his back on those who need us the most, our president’s insistent usage of foreign policy short cuts has only benefited our enemies.