Until President Donald Trump's rash decision last week to withdraw hundreds of U.S. troops from their buffer zone between Turkey and pro-U.S. Kurdish fighters, Syria's civil war had simmered down to manageable levels. Gone were the days of heavy street-to-street fighting and wanton destruction. War-weary civilians were finally able to catch their breath.
Trump has managed, single-handedly, to reignite the war and foment catastrophe for U.S. national security interests. Areas that were previously occupied by U.S. troops have now been seized by Russia's military or troops loyal to Syria's mass-murdering dictator, Bashar Assad. Syrian Kurds have been forced to negotiate a deal with Assad rather than face annihilation by Turkey. They will forever think twice about allying with America again.
Forces loyal to Assad have swept into other areas where they previously didn't dare venture for fear of U.S. retaliation. Now they enjoy a free hand. Trump's self-proclaimed "great and unmatched wisdom" is on full display, especially the part where he has empowered Russia, America's arch foe, to step into the vacuum Trump created.
Trump's decision makes no strategic sense from a military standpoint. His irrational thinking can only be explained by Trump's penchant for introducing distractions in hopes of drawing attention away from embarrassing developments elsewhere — such as the intensifying House impeachment inquiry into Trump's campaign shenanigans in Ukraine.
He cannot blame Pentagon generals or his predecessor's missteps for the crisis now unfolding in northern Syria. Trump, and only Trump, is responsible because he ignored the advice of top military and national security advisers, along with the Republican leadership, in ordering the withdrawal. The most obvious sign of how badly he miscalculated is the strong criticism he has faced from GOP leaders who, until this, hadn't dared to utter negative comments about Trump for fear of angering his base.
"For years, the United States and our Syrian Kurdish partners have fought heroically to corner ISIS and destroy its physical caliphate," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stated Monday. "Abandoning this fight now and withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria would re-create the very conditions that we have worked hard to destroy and invite the resurgence of ISIS."
Another staunch supporter, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., denounced Trump's newly announced package of economic sanctions against Turkey as a "tepid response" that, instead of causing Turkey to pull back, "will embolden Erdogan even more."
The world is awakening to the reality that has long been apparent to all but the blindly loyal Americans who still cling to the Trump fantasy: He is a toothless blowhard who is diplomatically inept, knows nothing of military strategy and, given the U.S. enemies he keeps empowering, deserves to have his priorities, if not his loyalty, questioned.
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