President Trump is no stranger to controversy. His entire presidency, and to a lesser extent his entire life, has been a series of controversies again and again. But perhaps nothing has been quite as polarizing as the decision made last week to withdraw United States troops from the Middle East, specifically from the area around the Turkey-Syrian border. This has plunged the region into chaos as our allies, the Kurdish fighters in Syria who have been battling against ISIS alongside our soldiers for years are left to fend for themselves.
This is a stunning betrayal of our allies, who are now left watching their land be taken by Turkish forces. This is not a surprising outcome; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had been threatening attacks on these forces, who he views as a threat to Turkish safety, for months. And yet, after a phone call with him, the president saw fit to reverse years of policy and a peace-keeping mission that was keeping the Kurdish forces alive and safe.
But the worst part of this decision might not even be the fact we’re allowing allies to die. The Kurdish forces who are being killed and pushed back aren’t just our allies, they were our allies in the war on ISIS. And they were responsible for detaining many ISIS soldiers. Now, they’re unable to effectively do that due to the fact that Turkey is effectively declaring war on them. This means that high-value, dangerous ISIS prisoners are getting loose simply because the president of the United States didn’t care to listen to his advisors and realize the crisis he was setting up.
Even more horrifically, Trump has continued to support his actions, now claiming that he thought the Kurdish forces were “releasing some to get us involved.” According to CNN, there has been no evidence that the Kurds had or have any intention of releasing ISIS prisoners, who pose a large threat to their lands. But Trump continues to support the idea that the ISIS prisoners getting out isn’t his fault, despite the fact that he is the only person who can possibly be blamed.
Can you imagine if it was anyone else we were letting die? If this decision came at the cost of American lives or British lives or Canadian lives, it would never have been made. Even five lives from a majority white, Christian nation would be considered reason to stay. But because the people who are dying are Middle Eastern, Kurdish Muslims, they’re worth sacrificing in order to get out of so-called “endless wars” that Trump has railed against for so long. But the tragic thing is, it wasn’t an endless war. We weren’t fighting a war at that border so much as we were preventing one.
Can you imagine if Trump turned to look at South Korea and just said: “No, I don’t like this anymore, this is an endless war, we’re leaving?” Can you imagine how many people would die because of that decision? We have far more people on that border than the one in Turkey so it makes a scary kind of sense that that isn’t entirely impossible. But we need it to be impossible because North Korea scares the hell out of us. The problem is that so should ISIS, so should even Turkey in some ways because it is their attacks on the Kurds that are allowing the ISIS fighters and supporters to get loose.
That’s our fault. The blood of the Kurdish innocents, the civilians and children, is on our hands. Every one of those deaths is our nation’s fault. Their lives are not worth less because they live far from us. Their soldiers fought and died to defeat ISIS in that region with us. And because of Turkey’s desire to commit genocide, we’re willing to give up our allies without a second thought. That is the cruelty President Trump and the American government is perpetuating. He doesn’t care what happens to people, as long as they’re done being useful. And that stupidity, that lack of humanity, is allowing ISIS fighters back into the very land we beat them on with the Kurds.
Ashton Stansel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.