17 October, 2019
It's just too delicious. President Trump ordered U.S. special forces out of Syria to a chorus of howling Democrats and all the old, experienced hands at State and, supposedly, the military. (I had doubts as well.) Democrats yelled that all hell was about to break loose. The Pentagon pulled its hair. Europe trembled and blanched. The Mideast girded for something awful.
Everybody thought we had to keep our troops around so the Turks wouldn't invade Northern Syria and kill off all the Kurds. Everybody wanted them to negotiate with the Kurds and figured the only way to do that was little by little, by getting allies to reason with Turkey and hem and haw and maybe buy her off as in times past. Meanwhile, we had to keep the two ancient enemies, Kurds and Turks, apart.
Negotiations would ever happen only if our troops stayed.
Trump saw the situation differently. As beautifully laid out by Sundance at Conservative Treehouse, removing our guys would leave the intransigent Turks vulnerable to an alliance against them of their many enemies in the region. This thought didn't occur to Turkish president Recep Erdoğan, who at first seemed delighted that we were leaving and promptly dispatched his troops into Syria, as everybody had predicted he would.
AT's Thomas Lifson reports that ABC News was so appalled that it ran footage from a Kentucky gun range video, called it the Turkish invasion, and heaped abuse on Trump for atrocities committed against Kurds. Even the usually level-headed Andrew Malcolm took the president severely to task for abandoning our Kurdish allies. George Conway, who has never had a good word to say about the president, styles the troop withdrawal a blunder of historical proportions.
Not so fast, fellas. The actual result hasn't been quite what everyone expected. Erdoğan suddenly understood the box he was in when Trump authorized Treasury secretary Mnuchin to prepare sanctions against Turkey. By themselves, sanctions haven't succeeded much in that part of the world. But in concert with the departure of the U.S., they became a scary signal that Turkey was all by her lonesome. Having steadfastly refused to negotiate, Erdoğan now nervously rang up Trump and asked for an emergency conference. Trump sent Vice President Pence and national security adviser O'Brien to mediate negotiations with the Kurds.
These are the long sought negotiations, brought about by U.S. troops leaving.
Only Donald Trump saw it — just as only Donald Trump got North Korea to the table, forced the Chinese to play fair, and got the Mexicans to handle the immigrant caravans on our southern border. Trump once again exhibits strategic insight not seen in the White House since George Washington.
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