President Donald Trump got something for betraying the Kurds. This disgrace makes no sense unless he did.
Doing something rash, foolish or even disastrous can be understood when there is some hoped-for benefit. The visible baseline of benefit to Trump here is zero.
Trump does not care about the Kurds. He cares about himself, though. He must have realized how this would look. He must have known how members of his own party in Congress would react. Suppose Trump miscalculated. Suppose he thought the outrage would be one-tenth of what it is. It still would make no sense.
Add the suddenness of it. Trump did not consult anyone else in Washington. The best explanation is: He did not want anyone to know what was coming. He wanted to spring this.
To recap, Trump talked by telephone with the dictator of Turkey on Sunday night. The dictator hates the Kurds. The Kurds live in eastern Turkey, northern Syria, northern Iraq and eastern Iran. They asserted themselves during the last couple of decades of chaos in the region. Turkey is alarmed at this.
The Kurds are the most effective anti-ISIS fighters in the region. Do not take my word for it. Go ask state Sen. Jim Hendren of Sulphur Springs, lifetime Republican and U.S. Air Force veteran of several deployments to the Middle East. Ask him who our friends are and who just says they are. Ask him who fights and who does not.
About 1,000 U.S. special forces troops were comrades in arms to the Kurds in northern Syria. Their presence prevented the Turks from attacking the Kurds while the our troops and Kurds fought ISIS together.
The same night as the phone call, the president ordered those troops of ours to leave our bases in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria. He likes to use the word "withdrawal." It was a self-inflicted rout. Our Air Force later had to bomb one of our own bases after our troops left. We departed in such haste, there was not enough time to remove -- or demolish -- all the ammunition there. Other bases were not bombed. Russian news crews took video of themselves walking around those intact facilities, gloating over what we left behind.
Even if leaving the region made sense, leaving it like this does not.
The Turks attacked straight away. The Kurds did the only thing they could. They made a deal with the powers left in the region, the Russians and their bloody puppet, war criminal Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The Iranians will also benefit.
Trump's treachery is so bad, 129 Republican members of the U.S. House voted with the Democrats on Wednesday, overwhelmingly passing a resolution condemning the withdrawal. Republicans voted for the resolution two to one. All four members of the Arkansas House delegation -- all Republicans -- voted for it.
Rep. Devine Nunes, R-Calif., routinely debases himself for the president. He voted for this resolution. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, also R-Calif., voted for the resolution. McCarthy is the Republican party leader in the House. He bears the brunt of trying to excuse every blunder the president makes. Even he could not go this far with the president.
Assad's power is greatly restored. The Russians are laughing at us, using our bases as a stage to strut on. ISIS prisoners set free can call us liberators. Allies are shaken and appalled, wondering with good reason how they can trust us. This is the United States' greatest national humiliation since the fall of Saigon in 1975. This is worse for being so sudden, needless and inexplicable. It is entirely self-inflicted by one man: Donald Trump.
What did he get, or what blackmail did he not get?
Trump faces a tough re-election path assuming he survives impeachment, which is a good bet. If I was Russian President Vladimir Putin or Turkey's dictator Recep Erdogan, I might collect whatever I can get from him now.
We know Trump will do anything Putin wants. "All roads with you lead to Putin," as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Trump to his face Wednesday. As for Erdogan, the popular theory assumes Trump's hotels in Istanbul play a part. I am more inclined to believe Erdogan knows more about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi -- and any Trump family complicity in it -- than he lets on.
Whatever is going on, I do not believe Trump did this for nothing. Not for one instant.
Commentary on 10/19/2019
Print Headline: National humiliation