Pretty much everyone except Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and the crowds at the campaign rallies criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw a large number of American troops from Syria. So far the critics have been vindicated by a Turkish offensive against our erstwhile Kurdish allies that has led to civilian casualties, freed Islamic State prisoners and given the terror group hope of rebirth, strengthened the hand of Syria’s odious dictatorship and its Russian and Iranian allies, and landed artillery close to American troops.
Trump being Trump, he naturally doubled down on Saturday night by ordering the withdrawal of the remaining American troops and then playing a round of golf on Sunday while his staff scrambled to deal with the fallout.
The situation is rapidly changing, with the Turks joining forces with some very nasty anti-Syrian militias, the Kurds seeking a new alliance with the Syrian dictatorship, no one fighting the Islamic State, and all the players in the complex game suddenly making new deals, and an unnamed White House official telling the Washington Post “it’s a total s***t storm.” Trump had promised that if Turkey did anything “bad” in his “great and unmatched wisdom” he will “totally destroy” the country’s economy, adding cryptically that (“I have done before!),” but so far the Turks seem unfazed, while Trump is sanguine enough to go golfing.
Meanwhile, Trump’s entire foreign policy seems similarly in disarray. A draft peace deal that had been painstakingly negotiated with the Taliban has been shelved, making it unlikely Trump will soon fulfill a promise to pull all of America’s forces out of Afghanistan, which might be a good thing given how bad the deal looks. Despite Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy to force Iran to the bargaining table to negotiate a better nuclear than the one Trump withdrew from, the Iranian dictatorship snubbed him when he tried to arrange a meeting. Trump is still “in love” with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, but his lover has also snubbed offers of a meeting about an incremental deal, even though it’s far less than the total denuclearization Trump said he would insist on. Stock markets around the world have lately heaved a collective sigh of relief that Trump has been meeting with China and seems closer to a ceasefire in the trade war that has ravaged both countries economies, but it remains to be seen if it will be the greatest deal ever Trump has long promised, or even good enough to justify the damage that’s been done.
All of which comes as Trump fights an impeachment inquiry that has gained momentum and public approval due to Trump’s efforts to help in his reelection campaign from Ukraine and other countries. None of the Democrats are well positioned to exploit Trump’s foreign policy ineptitude, assuming he gets to the general election, but he’s annoying enough Republicans to make than less than certain. All together, it might even wind up cutting into Trump’s golf time.
— Bud Norman