• Monday, 28 November 2022

A Tragedy Made in America

Jim Sperling Jim Sperling November 2, 2019 Columns
A Tragedy Made in America
Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US support from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is inexplicable and indefensible. Were it not for the SDF, the battle against ISIS would be ongoing, it would have incurred greater American casualties, and it provided an island of relative stability in the region. Unlike American-led operations in Afghanistan or Vietnam, the Syrian Kurds not only acquitted themselves on the battle-field, but also assumed the burden of war-fighting with American assistance rather than an American lead. Setting aside the issue of creating a Kurdish homeland that would unite the Kurdish peoples indigenous to Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria or the Turkish grievance against the AKP, a more important issue for Americans is the following: the withdrawal from northern Syria and abandonment of the SDF appears to have been informed by the personal commercial entanglements of the Trump Organization in Istanbul rather than the strategic consequences of his actions for the stability of the region or America’s reputation as a dependable ally or the fate of the Kurds. The Trump administration---and a complicit Republican-majority Senate---have committed an act at least as scurrilous as the Munich Agreement which ceded the western territory of Czechoslovakia to National Socialist Germany in 1938. In 2018, approximately two weeks after the 80th anniversary of the Munich Agreement, Trump ‘cut a deal’ with the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip that is not dissimilar in form or consequence. Marx was wrong in claiming that history repeats itself, first ‘as tragedy, then as farce’. This effective surrender of the Kurdish homeland will produce a tragedy for the Kurdish people and may produce the same outcome as that suffered by the Armenians in 1915 at Turkish hands. The ceasefire negotiated by Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo has not slowed the Turkish assault on the Kurds (or blunted the expansion of Russian influence and Putin’s prestige in the region). All that was missing in the aftermath of the 17 October agreement was Pence waving a piece of paper proclaiming ‘peace in our time’. Many American Senators, Republicans and Democrats alike, condemned the withdrawal of US forces from Syria and the abandonment of our Kurdish allies. But their words have been as effective as the thoughts and prayers expressed in the wake of mass shootings in the US. If there is a Turkish-led ethnic cleansing of the Kurds, there will be expressions of outrage but I have no confidence that the Trump Administration will intervene to stop it. As a citizen of the United States, I can only say that from this point forward Americans should only feel ‘Shame and eternal shame, nothing but shame’.