I was instructed to develop an opinion piece on the Trump administration’s decision to summarily abandon our allies in the fight against ISIS, the Northern Syrian Kurds. This I cannot do, because there was no administration involvement in the decision.
It was made completely unilaterally by the president after consultation with the dictators of Turkey and Russia in direct opposition to previous policy favored by congressional Democrats and Republicans alike.
This was big news two weeks ago, but, like so many other suspect actions and policy reversals attributable to this president, it has been eclipsed by new revelations of just how willing his inner circle is to forge the American rule of law at the highest level into an instrument to be wielded by the president against his political adversaries.
But we mustn’t let this shameful treatment of an ally who has fought alongside our forces against ISIS, enabling us to capture 10,000 of their soldiers and effectively eliminate them as a military force in Syria, to just fade away as just another casualty of the diplomatic incompetence that is the hallmark of this president’s tenure.
We need to remember it if only to clear up future questions about why the Kurdish survivors of Turkish ethnic cleansing are so motivated by wrath against America as to wish to inflict harm on Americans anywhere by any means possible.
This has historical precedence.
Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was reviled throughout the free world. We couldn’t project the military might to stop it, but our support of Afghanistan’s mujahideen freedom fighters enabled them to defeat the Russian invaders and was a major factor in the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. They fought like lions and prevailed.
As a reward for their efforts, they were abruptly abandoned to fend for themselves in the shattered countryside of Afghanistan, where male life expectancy was 38 years and the loss of a goat could mean starvation for a family and was considered more serious than the loss of a daughter.
In that environment, an embittered Saudi Arabian freedom fighter named Osama bin Laden formed al-Qaida, and we know how that turned out.
It didn’t have to be that way. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product at the time was $3.82 in 1980 compared to America’s $2.63 trillion even now Afghanistan’s GDP is a mere $20 billion, compared to America’s $19.3 trillion.
For maybe twice that amount, we could have brought Afghanistan’s standard of living up significantly and stabilized their government.
Before you ask, ‘how is that our responsibility?’ consider that we have spent $45 billion each of the last 17 years in Afghanistan fighting against the direct result of our abandonment.
From the end of World War II until the 1990s one thing kept the Soviet Union from occupying all of Europe. That was the word of the United States that Soviet aggression would be met with American-led, allied armed resistance.
The value of that word was indisputable and indispensable when it came to dealing with other dictators in China, North Korea, and Russia. Its value now is mainly as a recruiting tool for ISIS and its thousands of newly freed adherents, sworn to the killing of Americans wherever they are encountered.
The Kurdish betrayal is irreversible. Only a major full-scale military operation against Turkey and Russia could restore them to their homeland. And, as with so many instances of unprecedented actions by Trump, the strings lead faithfully back to Vladimir Putin, to whose interests the president has shown almost total deference.
It’s the new global reality. From children in cages at our southern border to the sponsorship of the genocidal starvation of millions of Yemeni children to the roadside executions of hundreds, soon to be thousands of people who saved the lives of countless American soldiers in Syria, this is us. America, becoming great again.