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President Donald Trump betrayed an American ally this week. It wasn’t the first time and it probably won’t be the last.

The victims this time were the Kurds, the minority ethnic group that provided most of the ground troops for the U.S. war against the militant group Islamic State in Syria. More than 11,000 Kurds died in that campaign. The number of U.S. combat deaths reported in Syria: six.

Trump’s betrayal was his failure to defend the Kurds against one of their mortal enemies: Turkey. Last weekend, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Trump he intends to send his army into northeastern Syria, where the Kurds have carved out a semi-autonomous enclave near the border.

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Doyle McManus

Trump’s response was, in effect, “OK by me.” He wants to get the last 1,000 U.S. troops out of Syria, and doesn’t seem to care much what happens after that.

He told reporters it was time to get out and let others “figure the situation out.”

To the president’s surprise, Republicans revolted.

“The biggest lie being told by the administration is that ISIS is defeated,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the president’s golf partners, using an acronym for Islamic State. “This is going to lead to ISIS’ resurgence.”

So the president rolled his decision partway back — although nobody in his administration seemed to know what his new position was.

“We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters,” Trump insisted in a tweet.

Tell that to the Kurds, who fear they have been left defenseless in the face of the larger and more powerful Turkish army.

Then explain to the Kurds why they should continue guarding 12,000 imprisoned Islamic State militants if Turks begin invading Kurdish villages.

Before he reconsidered, Trump argued that he doesn’t owe anything to the Kurds despite Pentagon promises to them while they helped prevent Islamic State from becoming a direct threat to the United States.

“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so,” he tweeted.

The Kurds weren’t allies, it turns out; in Trump’s view, they were subcontractors.

Trump dismissed them the same way he dismissed the painters, carpenters, piano tuners and other contractors he underpaid or refused to pay on hotel projects in Las Vegas and Atlantic City: They should be glad they got paid anything at all.

The president’s disdain isn’t new. He’s abandoned allies before.

Last December, he abruptly announced that he was pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, prompting Defense Secretary James N. Mattis to resign in protest.

“You’re going to have to get the next secretary of defense to lose to ISIS,” he told Trump.

This summer, the president blocked nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, a U.S. ally fighting a Russian-backed insurgency.

House Democrats are examining whether he withheld the arms to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on a potential 2020 political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

In Europe, Trump has repeatedly questioned why the United States is still in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the 29-nation defense alliance that has protected the continent for 70 years — and which rushed to America’s aid in Afghanistan after 9/11.

He’s questioned the U.S. military alliance with Japan, complaining that Japan exports cars to the United States but isn’t required to defend our shores.

“Our allies take advantage of us far greater than our enemies,” he said en route to a recent summit — with our allies.

The lesson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last year, is that Europe can no longer rely on the United States as a partner.

Trump treats domestic political allies that way, too.

In 2017, when his campaign to repeal Obamacare ran into trouble, he blamed House Republican leaders for passing an unpopular bill that he called “mean” — even though they had passed it with his approval.

And this week, as Trump announced his retreat in Syria, GOP senators said none of them had been consulted in advance — not even Graham, who had slavishly made himself a one-man cheering section for the White House.

Even though they were on recess and away from Washington, GOP senators took time to try to tutor the president in some basic principles of international relations.

“Honorable nations stand by their friends,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted. “

Our enemies and rivals (Iran, Russia, etc.) don’t abandon their allies. If we want allies to stand with America in the future, we shouldn’t either.”

“By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible: America is an unreliable ally,” Graham wrote. “This decision makes it difficult for the U.S. to recruit allies against radical Islam.”

The president chose an odd time to remind Republican lawmakers of his mercurial nature. The Senate may soon be sitting as a jury in his impeachment trial.

He could use some allies over the next few months.

Instead, he’s taught the senators, as well as the Kurds, a useful lesson: You can offer your loyalty to Trump.

Just don’t expect any in return.

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Doyle McManus writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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(19) comments

Hive

Two things, Kill is correct. Figure POTUS, our Boy Who Cries Wolf as the center of a wagon wheel. His attacks on the FBI, Intelligence, Congress, a slew of road kill Cabinet memebers and even FOX news, radiate like so many wheel spokes...attacks directed at agencies he fears due to investigative powers into nefarious dealings...or grifts.



And, @ Bo etal, if POTUS has the crowds and is doing so "great," what's the campainging all about? Duh...he knows he is toast or will be, and will likely resign to avoid the truth about Himself!!!

killallthelawyersfirst

What Mr. Hive noted has been accepted. The Kurdish people have been willingly used and abused by every American administration since Mr. Clinton. Mr, Bush and Mr. Obama used the Kurds and Mr. Trump is doing the same as they, but it can be said, for different a different motive, the man is trying to project himself, nothing else but what Mr. Trump figures he needs. Also, the Kurds puppets for Mr. Trump. They are helpless and no threats, so America has thrown them under the bus-again. The question is what nation benefits in the long haul? Certainly not Turkey or Iraq, which means America will suffer harm in the end. What happens in "ad hoc politics."

Hive

Richard Clark, once a career intelligence officer quit 911-Bush for cause...Iraqi WMD (at least peruse the book, if not asking too much?)

How many hand-picked security officers has the current dinger POTUS gone through?

Cripes! A meth-head knows more about national defense than Trump...nothing like a liar as an ally.

Hive

Sorry, Ambassador Joe Wilson and wife, Valarie Plame (exposed government agent as Cheney using Libby) retribution for Wilson's public rebuke of WH story. WH lied to begin with re WMDs and most knew it, while some concentrated on chemical weapons...which Saddam had and used against Iran and Iraqis, much like Trump would likely do.

Hive

Clinton WH warned 9/11-Bush about pending aircraft attacks...and what about,

Richard Clark...once 9/ll-Bush's Security Advisor? Ambassidor Joe Wilson and wife new and published the information...and she gets exposed and has to quit...a treasonous offense, according to Father Bush and the Congress, but we can forgot that...you nuts?

bolake

Hive - Stellar Intelligence Agencies here and abroad though they had WMD until after the invasion proved them wrong. They all believed Iraq had WMD, Democrats and Republicans alike. Both parties voiced to invade Iraq. Pretty sure the resignations were after the fact, not prior to Congress voting to invade. Unfortunately, You and I were not consulted.

Hive

No Bo, "our stellar agency" said no WMD, and 9/11-Bush' security advisor quit and ex ambassador Wilson both said as much.

But 9/11 dinger lied again...and here we are...oh yes forgot, Powell resigned as well, from under the bus.

More POTUS games getting people killed. And, the fat lady ain't sung yet.

bolake

Hive - I have said many many times I was never in favor of invading Iraq. I said Iraq was bluffing about WMD’s. However, our Stellar Intelligence Agency swore they had them. And the rest is history.

bolake

JD - Go Love Yourself. Obama did squat to protect these people you accuse Trump of abandoning. I said I did not want Trump to abandon them but sometimes he doesn’t listen to me. I’m not going to apologize for wanting to save US Military Lives. I would have preferred a verifiable concrete plan to protect the Kurds. However, it’s not easy, especially since Turkey is part of NATO. Unfortunately we are obligated to protect all NATO countries regardless of how they treat us or the people (Kurds) that have helped us. So easy for you and others to blame Trump for this situation. When he wanted to abandon NATO you and others flipped your lids. Now that he is trying to work things out with a NATO country you guys are at it again flipping out about it.

jdinfinity

Abandoning people for slaughter should never be an acceptable foreign policy for this country. But then again, for those xenophobic, anti-immigrant people? What's a few more lives sacrificed to have our isolationist white nation of freedom?

Bo, I find your viewpoint despicable and without empathy and concern for the lives of others. Juz like Trump you only want to save yer own arse, yer own property and guns, your own freedoms and YOUR 'Amurika'.

Only weak minded fools like you Bo would follow such an idiot man baby right off a cliff and into the crows...

Hive

I think term was coined by a Congressperson back when 9/11-Bush did something or did not do something after the WMD debacle in Iraq.

bolake

Hive - Trump is not perfect...but please drop the bull roar Democrat rhetoric, Hive begin to deal with facts and “strategic,” that is , long-term views!



Trump made a campaign promise to get us out of these senseless wars. What would you have him do, go back on his word so you could berate him again? I do not want to abandon the Kurds in Syria but we are not the police force for the world. Turkey is part of NATO and the United Nations, perhaps these two organizations should put Turkey and Syria in their place when it comes to humanitarian crisis.



We have spent over $6 Trillion and over 7,000 US military lives on senseless wars in Mid-East. When is enough, enough?

bolake

Hive - Ask JD, he is the one that said Trump was “creating a new humanitarian crisis “.

Hive

What is a "Mid-east humanitarian crisis?" Is that what is going one, or something far more serious? These are not just tactical zero-sum skirmishes...



O was not perfect...but please drop the bullroar republican rhetoric, Bo and begin to deal with facts and "strategic," that is, long-term views!

Hive

"America gets the governance it deserves..."

Hive

Aye, and between 9/11Bush-Cheney and current occupant, the Mid-East is becoming a pyre. But, then, we are seeing a reduction in population density...

bolake

Yeah, he should just draw a red line in the sand to fix the humanitarian crisis in Syria. It worked quite well for Obama.

jdinfinity

Trump proves in foreign policy what he does in domestic.

He doesn't care about anything except protecting his own arse. Even if it means creating a new humanitarian crisis.

This will be the legacy of his presidency.

Praise dictators and tyrants while turning his back on immigrants, families and peoples in need.

A despicable human, with despicable followers.

Hive

Duh! First thing that comes to mind...what a dummy POTUS, we elected. But, we get the rule we deserve.

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