Foreign Policy

‘I’m not convinced it was a bad idea’

Written by SK Ashby

Critics including myself would say we shouldn't have given the green light to, enabled, and explicitly endorsed Turkey's plan to ethnically cleanse our Kurdish allies from territory in northern Syria that they liberated from ISIS, but Republicans no longer seem to have any problem with a little ethnic cleansing.

The GOP's current position, if we're to take the word of Trump and certain Republican senators at face value, is that it's not our responsibility to prevent ethnic cleansing. In fact, we may even endorse it.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) spoke to reporters from his home state yesterday and said Trump made the right call by ordering American forces to withdraw so Turkish forces could engage in ethnic cleansing.

WASHINGTON — Texas Sen. John Cornyn defended the president’s abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, arguing Wednesday that with Turkey intent on ethnic cleansing of the Kurds — longtime U.S. allies in the fight against the radical Islamic State — the move had merit.

If Turkey was planning on coming into northern Syria and trying to ethnically cleanse the Kurds, and U.S. troops were caught in the middle, I am not completely convinced that it was a bad idea to get them out of harm’s way,” Cornyn said. [...]

Cornyn made his comments during a call with Texas reporters two hours after Trump announced that he was lifting sanctions against Turkey, which has driven Kurds from a 20-mile deep zone along much of its border with Syria.

Maybe you're someone who thinks we shouldn't have been in Syria to begin with. Maybe you think ISIS was someone else's problem. Maybe you think it's not our responsibility to prevent ethnic cleansing. I don't know, but I do know that it's a debate we probably need to have because what we've done under Trump makes ethnic cleansing in Syria and in other parts of the world more likely.

It's arguable if American forces were ever actually in "harm's way," as Cornyn implies. Turkey only invaded Kurdish territory after Trump ordered American forces to withdraw and paved the way for Turkish President Recep Erdogan to more less do whatever he wants and get away with it. It's highly unlikely that Turkish forces would have declared war on American forces -- a NATO ally -- and fired on American positions; positions that were guarding the Syrian Kurds who did most of the fighting against ISIS.

The way this entire situation was handled by our Republican administration will undoubtedly and rightfully convince other regimes that they can wage similar campaigns against undesired groups of people in the name of security, or whatever, and America will no longer have any moral authority to stand on to prevent it. Worse yet, we may even endorse it as we have in Syria.

I can't help by wonder what will happen in the future when the primary driver of ethnic cleansing becomes climate change and even pacifists have to question what the world will look like if we decide this is all okay.