Great and unmatched wisdom
The title to this piece is part what Trump tweeted out to Turkey about slaughtering our Kurdish allies after giving Turkish president Reccep Tayyip Erdogan the green light to begin the long-awaited offensive into northern Syria to create a “security zone” to buffer against “Kurdish terrorists.”
As of 11:25 am PDT, the Turks are bombing Kurdish towns from the air. Soon, the army will move in. Kurds are brave fighters, but they have no jets. The outlook is grim for them, as Erdogan engages in what is nothing other than ethnic cleansing.
More leaks have come out of the White House that Trump got rolled by Erdogan. Far from being the “great negotiator”, he’s nothing but a put-upon bully who gets dominated by actual fascist thugs who’ve been doing this a lot longer than he has, and are smarter and more wily. He went on a Twitter tirade just now that the US has spent trillions of dollars on Middle Eastern wars, and it’s time to bring home the troops. This verbal vomit omits two crucial factors: geopolitical considerations—i.e., the value of America’s word to allies if it abandons them at the drop of a hat; and the fact that he’s positioning troops in Saudi Arabia in preparation for a possible war against Iran, which would make the Iraq quagmire look like a pleasant day.
And, of course, the supposed impetus for this callous move—the failure of European countries to take back their citizens who fought for ISIS, and whom the Kurds are holding in prisons along with their families—will backfire, as the Kurds will see no reason to continue guarding these jihadists when they’re fighting for their existence against the Great Turk. Also, European states won’t magically decide to get involved in the Syrian holocaust, as their supposed leader, the US, is reneging on all promises made for the past decade.
One can’t but wonder if Trump, as he slides towards almost-sure impeachment and the increasing possibility of removal from office, has, like Hitler, decided to scorch the earth behind him, deeming Americans as failures for not recognizing his greatness and genius. That his scorched-earth policy also plays into the hands of his puppet master, Vladimir Putin, is a bonus.
What Trump is doing is removing America as the guarantor of the world’s liberal democratic order. By his actions, he is telling other states that the US is no longer going to police the world. It will no longer lead, engage in diplomacy, craft solutions. He is trying to turn America back to the isolationism of the inter war years. That isolationism, led by Republicans, condemned the world to an even greater slaughter than occurred in the Great War.
It’s too soon to say with any certainty that the United States will not regain the world’s trust after we excise this cancer. But Trump is not an aberration; as Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times yesterday, he is the culmination of a strain of American know-nothingism which has plagued the Republic since its founding. This know-nothingism is not merely an aversion to taking a role in the world which America’s power demands; it’s an open hostility to foreign cultures and problems. It’s a sticking of one’s head in the sand, thinking that will keep the world’s troubles away from our shores. The past century should have put paid to that blinkered notion. But if anything, it has grown stronger, and Donald Trump is its apotheosis, made reality in bulbous, orange flesh.
The Kurds will put up more than a good fight, and Turkish coffins returning to Istanbul on a daily basis might make the Turkish people finally rise up against their putative Sultan. But you can’t put a broken egg back together again. We will be living with the consequences of this dark era in American history for decades to come.
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