Donald Trump unleashed a fair amount of hell in the Middle East after he withdrew U.S. forces from northern Syria and effectively invited Turkey to launch a brutal offensive against our Kurdish allies. The crisis has bolstered Russia, Iran, Syria's Assad regime, and ISIS, while putting American troops in danger. The Trump administration's foreign policy, as Rachel put it on the show this week, is "collapsing into catastrophe."
But don't worry, the White House has come up with a plan: Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien would fly to Turkey, initiate some kind of diplomatic talks, and work it out.
Or maybe not.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will refuse to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, who is due to travel to Turkey to argue for a ceasefire in the ongoing Syria conflict.
"I'm not going to talk to them. They will be talking to their counterparts. When Trump comes here, I'll be talking," he said in comments made to Sky News, referring to the U.S. delegation.
Erdogan, whose phone call with Trump precipitated the crisis, added that he's heard the talk about a proposed ceasefire, but he doesn't care. "They say 'declare a ceasefire'. We will never declare a ceasefire," the Turkish leader told reporters.
As for the threat of possible U.S. sanctions, Erdogan went on to say, "They are pressuring us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions."
To a very real extent, these are humiliating circumstances for the United States: a high-ranking American delegation is on its way to a NATO ally, only to learn before arriving that our ally's president doesn't see the point in talking to them.
If Erdogan follows through and ignores the delegation, it would be a striking slap in the face and evidence of a total lack of respect for U.S. efforts. [Update: see below.]
But I was also intrigued by the idea that Erdogan would talk to Trump, but not his team.