Foreign Policy

‘I’m not convinced it was a bad idea’

JM Ashby
Written by JM 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.

  • muselet

    John Cornyn has long been an embarrassment, but this shameful performance should—it won’t, but it should—be the death knell of his political career.

    And Rs have the effrontery to question the morals and patriotism of literally anyone else.


  • mnpollio

    There is the old story of JFK going to allies to prove a point with evidence and being told that the word of the American president was good enough – no further proof needed. One would venture to say that under George W. Bush our reputation was diminished after Colin Powell’s water-carrying performance for Bush-Cheney in lying on an international stage. What we have under Trump and the current crop of Republicans is far beyond being diminished. It is an utter disaster that it will take literally generations for this country to recover from – if it recovers at all. Who would wish to ally with a super-power led by people who simply cannot tell the truth at all and throw their allies under the bus to glorify and uplift enemy foreign nations like Russia? Who could ever trust in their lifetimes what our country says? How could we ever in the foreseeable future preach to anyone about taking “the high road” without being laughed out of the room? Trump has literally debauched the entire country for personal gain and the acceptance of enemy foreign powers.

    The sad part about this is whoever ends up taking the reigns from the criminal empire of Trump and his minions (be it in 2020 or heaven forbid four more years), they will have an impossible task ahead of them trying to salvage and rebuild what has been lost. Even worse, whatever holdovers are still skulking around from the Republican Party will spend all of their time trying to subvert, obstruct and utterly destroy whatever Democrat ultimately attains high office and the short-memory nincompoops in this country will allow it to happen. And if Trump’s successor is a Democrat under the misguided notion that the Republicans are reasonable at heart and just need a bit of love and attention to get them to come around rather than a swift kick in the ass out the door, then it will be even worse.

  • Draxiar

    The GOP seems to be perfectly fine with kids being torn from their families and forced to live in cages with unsanitary conditions- some even dying and the ones that live are usually scarred for life. The Kurds being abandoned and possibly slaughtered by Turkey is a continuation of this brand of policy. Only this time we have someone doing the dirty work for us. We are diminished.