The stability in northern Syria that the U.S. military helped create and sustain is over. After Donald Trump, ignoring the advice of his foreign policy and national security teams, withdrew American troops, “total chaos” soon followed.
As we discussed yesterday, our Kurdish allies, abandoned by Trump and confronting “bloody carnage,” have now allied with Russia and Syria’s Assad regime, largely because they needed a reliable ally and could no longer count on the United States. The Kurdish campaign against ISIS, not surprisingly, is effectively over, to the delight of the terrorist network.
The only real beneficiaries of the chaos Trump created are Russia, Syria, Iran, and ISIS.
And yet, despite all of this, the American president was quite explicit this morning and making one thing clear: Trump simply does not care.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday downplayed the escalating tensions in the Middle East in the aftermath of his abrupt withdrawal of American troops from northeastern Syria.
“It’s not our border,” Trump said speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, referring to Kurdish forces that, until recently, fought side by side with the United States forces as “no angels.”
The Republican went on to say his decision was “strategically brilliant.” Trump added that American soldiers “are totally safe.”
The president also said, in apparent reference to Turkish and Kurdish forces, “There’s a lot of sand that they can play with.” Trump added that he believes the Kurds deliberately freed some ISIS prisoners in the hopes that he would say, “Oh gee, we gotta get back in there.”
As difficult as this was to hear, Trump’s extraordinary unscripted comments offered a peek into his rather twisted vision of the world.
It appears that Trump has settled on an exceedingly narrow view: global instability, rival powers, and allied bloodshed are, in his mind, entirely irrelevant. Syria is far away from the United States, which leads the president to believe events that unfold in Syria have no bearing on the United States.
And while that’s certainly one way to look at international affairs, there is an alternative approach. For example, some might argue that when the United States makes decisions that help Russia, Syria, Iran, and ISIS, that’s failing to advance our interests. When our allies are betrayed and forge partnerships with our adversaries, that fails to advance our interests, too.
When the United States abandons its role as a global leader, and others fill the vacuum, that also fails to advance our interests. When the world sees the United States abandon its allies, subject them to slaughter, and then suggest they somehow deserve the violence – because they are “no angels” – that fails to advance our interests, too.
Donald Trump has no doubt heard the phrase that the American president is the “leader of the free world.” He made clear this morning, however, that he sees no value in filling such a role.
As for Trump justifying his indifference by asserting that American soldiers “are totally safe,” there’s ample evidence to the contrary. Following up on our earlier coverage, it was just a few days ago when U.S. troops were reportedly “bracketed” by Turkish artillery fire, which (a) put those American troops at risk; (b) meant an ostensible NATO ally was firing on our military servicemen and women; and (c) potentially left those Americans stuck in a highly volatile area, since Turkish forces control the nearby roads. By some accounts, an airlift may be necessary.
That Trump surveys this landscape and sees his decision as “strategically brilliant” suggests he doesn’t fully understand what the words “strategy” and “brilliance” mean.