Monday, October 14, 2019


This is a politics post.  I know some of you don't agree with my views, so feel free to click away rather than be annoyed.  I want to remember this.

Sunday, October 6, Recep Erdogan called the president.  He chose that time because he knew there would be few handlers around to try to steer the conversation.  Erdogan was also known to call when the president was golfing.  That very night the White House issued a statement that all American soldiers were being recalled from Syria.  We abandoned the Kurds.  Many people have made a point that the Kurds weren't fighting ISIS for us, they were fighting an enemy of theirs.  However, for five years, the Kurds destroyed the caliphate with little loss of American lives.  The Kurds paid a heavy price. They did get an area of autonomy near the Turkish border.  For some reason, and I don't know why, prior to the phone call, the US convinced the Kurds to remove their heavy weapons and destroy their fortifications along the border.  They did this trusting the US to keep Turkey at bay.  That went well.

By Tuesday, Turkey was invading Syria. Many of the fighters are not regular military, they're militias and some members are former ISIS.  Air strikes were begun.  Atrocities were begun.  The Kurds, who had been guarding thousands of ISIS prisoners left for the front.  An unknown number of ISIS fighters and their families are now on the loose.

Yesterday, the Kurds switched sides and asked Bashar al-Assad for help.  Syria is sending troops to the cities previously held by the Kurds. Turkey is moving towards the same cities.  American troops are caught in the middle.  The question becomes what is the US response if Turkey, a member of NATO, fires on US soldiers.  Even worse IMHO is what is the NATO response if Syria fires on Turkish troops?  Article Five of  the NATO Alliance reads, in part:
Collective defense means that an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.
Even worse than that is the fact that there are 50 tactical nuclear weapons that the United States had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border.  This is from a NYT article, it's just chilling.
Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages. To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago.
“I think this is a first — a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at US forces,” Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies wrote last week.
For his part, Mr. Erdogan claims nuclear ambitions of his own: Only a month ago, speaking to supporters, he said he “cannot accept” rules that keep Turkey from possessing nuclear weapons of its own.
The president's actions have benefited Russia, Iran and Assad.  Putin hasn't had to do much more than bomb some hospitals for Assad, and his influence in Syria has increased.  Today, Putin visited Saudi Arabia and was warmly welcomed.  This after our president signed on to send 2,000 US troops to the kingdom.  The Daily 202 had an excellent round up on just how bad all of this is.

I have to wonder if all of this is a distraction from the phone call with Zelensky and the subsequent move to begin an impeachment inquiry.  There's only so much space on the front page, and right now Syria is occupying a lot of it.

Update to post:  This is a good op-ed that I don't want to lose track of.

10/21/2019 update to post:


  1. Some very interesting background to this Middle East episode, a lot of which I was unaware of.

  2. I read a similar account of the actions of mr trump. Frightening world. Seems we get closer and closer to the abyss and no one in DC is able or willing to do more than whine and make empty threats.

  3. Distraction yes, but also doing Putin’s bidding I think. Russia benefits from our abandonment of our Kurdish allies. Trump is running this nation as if it is a colony if Russia. He’s a useful idiot to Putin and a danger to the entire world. Thank you for this cogent summary.

  4. I think Trump has been trying to align the US with Russia and Saudi Arabia or at the very least do nothing to prevent Russia from increasing it's control. Trump also pulled us out of a treaty that provided air reconnaissance along the Russian border. perhaps it's a distraction but it won't impede the impeachment inquiry, if anything it will, hopefully, give it more ammo showing he is not acting in America's best interest. no one now will trust us which I also think is part of his plan. I also think that, as vindictive as Trump is, he figures that if he goes down he's going to take the whole country with him.

  5. I've thought for some time, Trump no longer wants to be president, and resigning to get out of impeachment is his most "honorable" bet. Now I'll add Ellen's observation, if he goes down, he intends to take the country with him.

  6. It all turns my stomach. Trump has abandoned a vulnerable population and even further endangered an already unstable region. And he did it AGAINST the advice of his own advisors, trusting in his internal "genius." He's an idiot and a threat.