Lindsey Graham displayed shockingly strong independence this morning when he tore into Trump about an evolving decision to abandon our Middle East allies, the Kurds, in their fight against ISIS and Turkish forces. Trump has ordered our troops in Northern Syria to stand down and allow Turkish troops to pour into the area, with the Kurds fearing they are about to become victims of the next regional genocide. You will recall that Trump ordered a withdrawal from Syria over a year ago, prompting Defense Sec. Jim Mattis’s resignation, stating that Trump will need to lose to ISIS with someone else as secretary of defense. Trump quickly reversed himself at the time, but not soon enough to keep Mattis. This time, however, the minders are gone, the betrayal seems imminent, and the implications horrific. According to former U.S. Special Envoy to the Islamic State Brett McGurk: “This appears to be another decision without any consultation, deliberation or process,” one that “will significantly increase the risk for our personnel who depend on the SDF for sustainment.” An International Crisis Group analyst said, ”For the U.S.’s regional allies, the lesson should be clear: This is a president and an administration that, in the breach, is not interested in fighting their battles for them.” If you recall the last time that Trump attempted to abandon the Kurds, we heard the same accusations, no one was consulted, no one knew it was coming, there was no plan for implementation. As always when we hear that Trump jumped to a secretive, unpopular decision – and Trump knew this would be controversial and unpopular – we look to alternative Trump motives, things beyond actual U.S. foreign policy. Turkish and/or Russian explanations will be examined in later columns, but for today’s purposes, know only that an appropriately massive pushback is coming Trump’s way. But Trump might not have anticipated the blowback coming from his most needed domestic allies. Lindsey Graham is heated enough to call out Trump’s rational, “ISIS is not defeated. This is the biggest lie being told by this administration.” Yes, Graham just referenced the administration as telling its “biggest lie,” and we’ll revisit the importance below. Graham wasn’t done: Lindsey Graham calls in to Fox & Friends & calls Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds "impulsive." "I hope I'm making myself clear how shortsighted & irresponsible this decision is in my view," he says. "This to me is just unnerving to its core." pic.twitter.com/URH0DVA1bo — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 7, 2019 And on his own: * Ensures ISIS comeback.* Forces Kurds to align with Assad and Iran.* Destroys Turkey’s relationship with U.S. Congress.* Will be a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds. — Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019 Graham’s response might be the only glimmer of hope if you are a Kurd right now. As we noted, Trump has reversed himself on this decision once before, and Trump simply cannot go forward as president without Graham solidly behind him in every way. There can be no dividing line between “foreign policy” and “impeachment” over which the two determine the scope of their alliance. Even if it were politically possible (dubious), it certainly isn’t possible with Trump, one is either “loyal,” or not. Graham’s characterization of the ISIS assurance as one of the “biggest lies” leaves only […]
While the Ukrainian matter dominated the news cycle over the last 48 hours, Trump edged the country closer to conflict in the Middle East, sending troops and arms to Saudi Arabia. From the Financial Times: The Pentagon is preparing to send weapons and hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia to help the nation boost its military defences following the alleged Iranian attack last weekend that knocked out half of the kingdom’s crude oil production. General Joe Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs, and Mark Esper, defence secretary, said Donald Trump ordered the deployments after requests from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Maybe I am getting a little paranoid, but I find it highly odd that both the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs would note that Trump granted an order “requested by” Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Trump congratulated himself for granting Saudi Arabia’s request so perfectly: “The thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint,” Mr Trump said, before adding: “Iran knows that if they misbehave, they are on borrowed time.” Speaking alongside Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, the US president rejected criticisms that he was being weak: “Going into Iran would be a very easy decision . . . most people thought I would go in within two seconds . . . I’m showing great restraint.” Yes, “great restraint.” You did exactly as Saudi Arabia asked, and by that you showed “great restraint”? Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi was not interested in answering requests from the Saudis, and let Trump know that he was in violation of yet another American law. “President Trump’s plan to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to Saudi Arabia and UAE, and to deploy additional U.S. forces to the region is the latest outrageous attempt by the Trump Administration to circumvent the bipartisan, bicameral will of Congress. These unacceptable actions are cause for alarm. … “Once again, President Trump is turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s continued violence against innocent Yemenis, as well as its horrific murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its gross abuses of human rights, which represent a moral and humanitarian crisis. The United States cannot enable more brutality and bloodshed.” I do not mean to sound defeatist, because I certainly am not admitting defeat. Nor am I stating that Pelosi is wrong in her strongly-worded statement. It all just seems “quaint” to be discussing “laws” and “restraint” when we suspect that Trump is following Saudi Arabia’s “requests” to the letter. Because that is what Trump does. He puts U.S. foreign policy up for sale to the highest bidder and few can beat Saudi purchasing power. This coming week will be the most consequential yet in Trump’s presidency. We are on the edge of war, and the edge of fascism. We need our leaders to show leadership, and move resolutely. I do not know the “best” plan, I only know that they best have a plan. Because if this coming week shrinks back into accepting Trump’s actions from last week, the Ukrainian matter and ignoring the law to edge the U.S. closer to war, if it sounds like this last week was “just another scandal,” then it will be “just another scandal,” and we will have learned nothing with respect to controlling or checking Trump’s abuse of power. “Following […]
Sometimes people in Washington get it plain wrong!
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