May 19, 2024

quid no quo no Kurds

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
No quid, no quo, no Kurds
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is a transactional leader. There is always a quid pro quo. But what is the quid and quo when he gave Turkey the green light to attack the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria who have been America’s strongest allies in the fight against ISIS.
          This was an impromptu decision. Trump’s Secretary of Defense Mark Esper didn’t know it was coming. Republican Lindsay Graham, Trump’s best friend and golf partner in the Senate learned about it in a 6 a.m. phone call from someone, as reported by Axios, who said, “You won’t believe what just happened.”
          Republicans are going ballistic, even those who acquiesced with consent or silence when he requested a favor – a quid for quo – from the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens in exchange for the release of already-promised military aid.
          The betrayal of the Kurds makes no sense. If Trump had made some secret deal to expand U.S. military facilities in Turkey or made some other foreign policy deal, we would know about it because our defense and intelligence communities would be backing the president. But their silence is defining and deafening.
          The best Trump can offer is that “if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey.”
          Senator Graham, who is up for reelection in 2020 has been slavishly devoted to Trump. But he is just the first of what we are dubbing “Turncoat Toadies,” Republicans who turned on their principles to save themselves from Trump-initiated primary challenges and are now turning on Trump.
          Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, tweeted "Turkish troops preparing to invade Syria from the north, Russian-backed forces from the south, ISIS fighters attacking Raqqa. Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America's allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS."
          Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the White House "cut a deal with Erdogan allowing him to wipe them [Kurds] out. Damage to our reputation and national interest will be extraordinary and long lasting."
          Graham is vowing to muster Senate support to slap sanctions on Turkey, and Trump says he’s fine with that. Does Trump believe sanctions can replace the U.S. troops who had been stationed as tripwires, the deterrent keeping the Turks away from the Kurds? He knows this is not the case because Erdogan had announced his intention to launch the offensive against the Kurds before the U.S. troops pulled out.
          In fact, Trump just took America’s strongest allies in the Middle East outside of the Israelis and threw them under the bus, condemning an untold number of people to death in the assault that got underway on Wednesday.
          Faced with questions about thousands of ISIS fighters held by the Kurds in makeshift prisons, and who are now likely to escape, Trump told reporters they will be escaping back to Europe, and that it’s not fair for the United States to be solely responsible for these fighters.
           “The worst mistake the U.S. has ever made in my opinion was going into the Middle East,” he continued, saying that the United States shouldn’t have to police the world.
          So, here we are. Trump makes a deal with Erdogan and abandons the Kurds, but what is the deal? Is it simply an isolationist retreating to Fortress America? A rogue president gaining some undisclosed personal or business benefit? Or, as his dwindling loyalists believe, does this self-described “stable genius” with “great and unmatched wisdom” have a secret plan? Whatever it is, there is certain to be a quid and a quo.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2019 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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