In remarks that sparked outrage and left some critics at a loss for words, President Donald Trump on Wednesday attempted to justify his decision to abandon Kurdish forces in Syria by criticizing Kurds for not assisting the United States in World War II.
“As somebody wrote in a very powerful article today, they didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy, as an example,” Trump said during a signing ceremony for unrelated executive orders. “They’re there to help us with their land, and that’s a different thing.”
As The Daily Beast‘s Will Sommer pointed out, Trump’s remarks appear to have been inspired by a Tuesday article written by right-wing columnist Kurt Schlichter.
Trump criticizes *the Kurds* for not helping America in WWII, "they didn't help us with Normandy." (!!!) pic.twitter.com/yC8yijgjTh
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) October 9, 2019
British historian Akil N. Awan was quick to point out on Twitter that Kurds “DID fight on the Allied side in WW2.”
“They helped break the siege following the 1941 pro-Nazi coup d’état in Iraq and were part of the (pro-Allied) Iraq Levies,” said Awan. “By 1942 Kurds made up 25% of the force. By 1943, 10 of the 44 companies comprising the Iraq Levies were Kurdish.”
In addition to condemning the president’s historical ignorance, critics also slammed Trump’s comments as unspeakably cruel:
This is the most disgusting, disgraceful thing he has ever said. Because of Trump, the Kurds are getting killed as we speak. His message to all of our allies in Europe, Israel and Asia: you are expendable. Trump doesn't give a shit about you. Look elsewhere for leadership. https://t.co/LXIZE2eFAv
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) October 9, 2019
ok…. All else aside, this logic makes no sense, and doesn’t dictate anything in American foreign policy. The Viet Minh helped us a lot in World War II, and wonder how that alliance turned out in the years directly after. https://t.co/17wrJ16wE7
— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) October 9, 2019
Trump to the Kurds: Drop dead, because you didn't help us with Normandy. Yes, really. This is real life. https://t.co/5rBmvgmgGp
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) October 9, 2019