President Trump has abandoned our allies, the Kurds, sparking a genocide that will haunt us forever. Our country no longer stands for human rights, keeping our promises or common decency.
At a recent town hall, I asked Rep. Andy Harris why Trump is not listening to his military advisors. Harris, in a condescending tone, said, “Well, after all, President Trump is the commander in chief.” I mentioned that Donald Trump has absolutely no experience, but it did not phase him. How anyone can think that someone who has never studied military strategy should be able to make such a huge decision completely on his own is beyond me. Can anyone imagine President Eisenhower, an army general, making such a decision without talking it over with his military advisors? And, mind you, making a strategic military decision at the behest of a foreign power?
Of course, we have a precedent for this. Former President George W. Bush did not take the advice of his military advisors or his intelligence officers. He chose to ignore the memo that read, “Terrorists are planning to fly planes into buildings” and told the intelligence community that he would fire anyone who said anything more about terrorism. When President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore warned him about the threat from Osama bin Laden, he ignored that, as well, saying that Saddam Hussein was the threat. George W. Bush had previously not had access to the intelligence reports proving that bin Laden was a credible threat. I guess, like Trump, he was going with his gut. Then again, the bin Ladens were family friends from the oil business.
Back to the latest Trump atrocity. We have, with full knowledge beforehand of what would happen, unleashed a genocide, an ethnic cleansing, upon the Kurdish people. They are being murdered as you read this. Not just soldiers, mind you, but civilians, including children. MSNBC journalist Richard Engels has reported that there is already talk of trying the U.S. for war crimes at the Hague. We have come a long way from the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Trump’s foolish decision has not only led to the slaughter of hundreds of Kurds already (including children), but we know for a fact that 800 ISIS radicalized family members have been released. The 10,000 or more ISIS terrorists that the Kurds were guarding are unattended. We do not know how many have escaped so far, but we do know that Al Qaida and ISIS fighters are fighting alongside the Turks to eradicate the Kurds. There were 60 “high-profile” ISIS prisoners that U.S. forces wanted to detain; however, due to the suddenness of the move to withdraw, it was impossible to go back for them. We had to bomb our base in Syria to prevent our weapons from getting into the hands of ISIS, and, oh yeah, we had to leave nuclear weapons behind.
At Rep. Harris’ town hall, he stated that all this was “fair” because Turkey had been our ally longer than the Kurds. Hmmm. In the past five years, we have lost six American service members, while the Kurds have lost over 11,000. I am not a history expert, but I cannot remember Turkey making any sacrifices like that.
Now, Rep. Harris will tell you that the Kurds “were fighting for their land,” so it doesn’t really count that they were defeating ISIS for us. Hmmm. All I really know or care about is that the U.S. was a heck of a lot safer when the Kurds were involved in the war against terror.
Rep. Harris went on to disregard the amazing victories of the Kurds by telling us that “President Trump defeated ISIS.” Well, sorry to break it to you, sir, but ISIS sure seems alive and well now. Their black flag went up almost immediately as the Turks marched in.
By the way, Trump keeps telling everyone who will listen that he wanted to bring our soldiers “home.” He wanted to stop the “endless wars.” The only problem is that those troops are being diverted to Iraq, where they will have to do all the fighting for themselves. Others are being sent to Saudi Arabia. Give me a break! Saudi Arabia cannot foot the bill to protect itself?
Now the Kurds, in an attempt to save their lives, have asked for protection from — wait for it — Russia. Contrary to Trumpian belief, Russia is a hostile foreign power. They have also enlisted the help of President Assad of Syria. Weren’t we against him?
The American troops fighting alongside the Kurds are demoralized, embarrassed and ashamed. We should be, too. “President” Trump has shown the world that we cannot be trusted. In addition, we have enabled the genocide of the Kurdish people. We have lost maybe billions in military equipment, weaponry and infrastructure. (So much for removing our troops to save money.) Americans, as well as our European allies, are in tremendous danger. Remember? Ten thousand ISIS terrorists were being held by the Kurds. They had to leave ISIS behind when they fled for their lives.
The thing that disturbs me the most is that there has not been so much as a whimper about this. Did I miss it? I have not heard of a single protest being set. We should be camped out on the White House lawn. This could be the start of World War III. Please do not let it happen in silence.
Susan Olsen is a member of the Talbot County Democratic Forum (demforum.com). She writes from Cambridge.