Defeating ISIS was one of Donald Trump’s main campaign pledges during the 2016 election race.
At the time, the terror group was America’s public enemy No1 – marauding around the Middle East with apparent impunity, killing US forces and committing despicable atrocities like burning pilots alive in cages and throwing gay people off roofs.
Candidate Trump repeatedly vowed to ‘bomb the hell’ out of ISIS and beat them into submission.
His words resonated powerfully around the world, especially in countries like Britain and France where ISIS were carrying out appalling acts of violence on civilians.
And to a large extent, President Trump kept his word.
Candidate Trump repeatedly vowed to ‘bomb the hell’ out of ISIS and beat them into submission. To a large extent, President Trump kept his word. Trump is pictured October 12 in Washington DC
Three days after Trump had announced the US would be pulling its small number of troops from northeast Syria, Erdogan did what he’d threatened to do for several years and invaded Syria. Pictured: Turkish soldiers in tanks in Syria on October 14
US forces did indeed ‘bomb the hell’ out of ISIS, destroying its caliphate in Syria and Iraq, and neutering much of its very dangerous global threat in the process.
It would be a stretch to claim, as Trump has done, that ISIS is finished, because they’re demonstrably not in places like Afghanistan.
But since the successful dismantling of the caliphate, there has been a massive reduction in major ISIS terror attacks around the world.
President Trump is thus perfectly entitled to take credit for largely delivering on his promise.
Yet in one spectacularly ill-judged phone call, he’s now unleashed a horrendous can of worms that seems likely to undo all of that deserved kudos.
Nobody knows exactly what was said when Trump spoke to President Erdogan of Turkey last Sunday, but we’re all now seeing the gruesome consequences of that conversation.
Three days later, after Trump had announced the US would be pulling its small number of troops from northeast Syria, Erdogan did what he’d threatened to do for several years and invaded Syria.
He said he was launching Operation Peace Spring to ‘neutralize terror threats’ and ‘establish a safe zone’.
In reality, Turkish forces promptly attacked Kurdish forces – a historic foe – with savage brutality.
These are the same Kurdish forces who heroically helped the US defeat ISIS in the first place, and who’ve since been guarding thousands of captured Islamic State fighters.
And amid the chaos, hundreds of these fighters are now reported to have escaped.
Nobody knows exactly what was said when Trump spoke to President Erdogan of Turkey (pictured October 14) last Sunday, but we’re all now seeing the gruesome consequences of that conversation
So ISIS is back on the loose in Syria, free to re-group, re-arm, and re-launch its terrorism.
It gets worse.
As Turkey has rampaged through Kurdish territory, its forces have also killed many civilians and displaced over 130,000 from their homes, in what many horrified observers are describing as ‘ethnic cleansing’.
Some of the TV news interviews with devastated Kurdish women and their wounded or dead children are absolutely heart-breaking.
Let’s be blunt: America has betrayed the Kurds in horrifying, despicable fashion.
As the carnage unfurled – carnage that many experts predicted would happen – Trump warned Turkey its assault was a ‘bad idea’ and threatened on Twitter to destroy Turkey’s economy if it continued to wipe out the Kurds.
‘If Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits,’ said Trump, with unedifying arrogance given the gravity of the situation, ‘I will totally destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey!
But Erdogan, having brazenly called Trump’s bluff, has shown no sign of being remotely deterred by such warnings, ruling out any mediation with the Kurds saying Turkey wouldn’t negotiate with ‘terrorists’.
As a result, the appalled and terrified Kurds are now fleeing into the gleeful arms of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, the man America wants ousted, and the man who is supported by two major U.S. rivals, Iran and Russia.
The Syrian government has offered to support the Kurds against Turkey’s invasion, a shift in alliances that could help Assad achieve total victory in the long-running Syrian conflict, and by association, achieve a victory too for Iran and Russia.
What an absolute shambles!
There can be few things more sickening than such cold-hearted betrayal of men and women who’ve risked their lives, and in many Kurd cases GIVEN their lives, to fight with another nation in battle.
The Kurds did that for America, to defeat ISIS and to make the world a safer place.
Erdogan said he was launching Operation Peace Spring to ‘neutralize terror threats’ and ‘establish a safe zone’. In reality, Turkish forces promptly attacked Kurdish forces – a historic foe – with savage brutality. Pictured: Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels gather outside the border town of Ras al-Ain, Syria, on October 12
For President Trump to now throw those same Kurds to the Turkish wolves is an unforgivable act of treachery that may have very serious ramifications for the security of the United States.
The Kurds are under no illusion what’s happened to them.
The Wall Street Journal reported that a Kurdish commander who had spearheaded the fight against ISIS stormed out of a meeting with Americans shouting: ‘You sold us!’
Top U.S. military personnel feel the same way.
‘There is blood on Trump’s hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies,’ retired four-star Marine general John Allen told CNN.
Yes there is.
The only question now is how much blood, and what if anything America can do to stop it now the near-genocidal genie is out of the bottle?
Sending U.S. troops back into the area seems pointless.
‘I can’t see why you would leave U.S. forces there now,’ a senior military source told Fox News. ‘How would you get other partners? What would give them a reason to trust us?’
As even Trump loyalist Senator Lindsay Graham put it before the invasion began: ‘If we abandon them (the Kurds) good luck getting anybody to help America in the future with Al Qaeda and ISIS. You may be tired of fighting radical Islam, but they’re not tired of fighting you.’
General Allen added: ‘This is what happens when Trump follows his instincts and because of his alignment of autocrats.’
Sadly, this withering assessment is hard to argue.
Trump has regularly played footloose and fancy-free in his dealings with despotic foreign leaders.
But by letting himself get played by President Erdogan in this way, he has exposed America to the very worst kind of accusation: that it will ditch its allies when it suits them.
Trump, of course, doesn’t accept he’s done anything wrong.
There can be few things more sickening than such cold-hearted betrayal of men and women who’ve risked their lives, and in many Kurd cases GIVEN their lives, to fight with another nation in battle. Pictured: Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians flee October 10 after Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town
‘Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish border, for a change,’ he tweeted. ‘Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight. They have no idea what a bad decision they have made.’
Hmmm. I think the President needs to look closer to home when it comes to bad decisions.
I applaud Trump’s desire not to wage further war in the Middle East.
But I don’t applaud him for what he’s done to the Kurds.
It’s not ‘great and unmatched wisdom’ – it’s dumb, dangerous and disloyal.
The U.S. military has always operated under a sacred rule: ‘No man left behind.’
It is imbedded into the psyche of everyone in the American forces.
The U.S. Army Rangers creed states: ‘I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy.’
Whichever way Trump tries to spin this, the truth is that America just left its Kurdish comrades to fall into the hands of the enemy.
And that is a bloody disgrace.