While America is legally and officially a secular nation (something the “patriots” that took over the Republican Party fail to comprehend) it is, by practice, largely a Christian nation. One of the basic beliefs (and great marketing tools) of Christianity is forgiveness. In that spirit America will need to ask the world for a lot of forgiveness for what we have done during the Trump administration and we saw another example of that this week. The only thing I have to offer in “exchange” is a suggested Democratic slogan for the 2020 presidential campaign; hardly a good trade. With all that in mind; let’s explore.
President Trump had a conversation with Turkish President Recep Erdogan and promptly decided to withdraw all American troops from near the Turkish border with Syria. This places the Kurds in mortal danger.
Now for some background: The Middle East is primarily a collection of countries arbitrarily drawn up by the British, French and to a lesser degree Americans in the wake of World War I with total disregard to the history and denizens of the region. The only interest that was served was that of the western oil companies. The Kurds are a significant and distinct ethnic group, largely living in the northern regions of Iraq and Syria, but without a land to call their own. They have also been America’s only true ally in the region that was willing to commit troops. They have suffered causalities in the five figures and are largely the reason for the military success – including the containment, notice I didn’t say defeat, of ISIS – that we claim to have had in the region.
Erdogan is a dictator, as Trump desires to be – and considers the Kurds to be terrorists because they oppose his rule. What Trump has done is clear the way for them to send troops over the border to slaughter the Kurds in northern Syria. I could get much deeper into these weeds, but I gave you enough to understand what, under Trump, we have again done. With good cause, there are ugly American tales around the world; Trump has again proven to be the ugliest American president ever by betraying an ally and in this case leaving them to either abandon everything and flee or be slaughtered.
Trump consistently betrays historical allies. Reneging on the Iran Nuclear Deal not only endangered the world, it betrayed important international allies like the French and Germans. Being the only major country in the world not to sign on to the Paris Climate Accord not only betrayed trust and failed a leadership test, it will end up killing people. Trump’s commitment to NATO is dubious at best. Trump reverses course more than a fleet footed quarterback with a porous offensive line.
Trump even got into some stupid trade disputes with our neighbors (and important parts of our industries’ supply chains) Canada and Mexico. His “great achievement” is a yet unratified new version of NAFTA with the very forgettable name of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The reality is that most people will simply refer to it by the much more accurate term: NAFTA 2.0 because that is all it really is. That is all on the assumption that it is ever ratified. If there is a winner in this deal it is difficult to identify them. There was a lot of uncertainty though and that is never a good thing for economies.
As to the Syria situation the winners are easy to identify. They are Erdogan, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Erdogan gets to slaughter the Kurds who he considers a political threat. Putin gets to keep his naval base in Syria and enhances his influence in the Middle East. Assad stays in power. What do those three have in common? The answer is that they are all strongman dictators, which is what Trump strives to be. There is an intangible in that Trump has significant business interests in Turkey. Trump values his money over his country.
Here is the slogan (and it’s not a great one) for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate: Make America Credible Again. One of the first missions of the next administration is to go to all our traditional allies and assure them that America has exorcized itself of the evil that was the Trump administration and will live by its word and commitments to its allies once again. That tour will be a good and necessary start but it will take time to heal the wounds – lots of time.
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