President Donald Trump betrayed an American ally this week. It wasn’t the first time and it probably won’t be the last.

The victims this time were the Kurds, the minority ethnic group that provided most of the ground troops for the U.S. war against the militant group Islamic State in Syria. More than 11,000 Kurds died in that campaign. The number of U.S. combat deaths reported in Syria: six.

Trump’s betrayal was his failure to defend the Kurds against one of their mortal enemies: Turkey. Last weekend, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Trump he intends to send his army into northeastern Syria, where the Kurds have carved out a semi-autonomous enclave near the border.

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Doyle McManus

Trump’s response was, in effect, “OK by me.” He wants to get the last 1,000 U.S. troops out of Syria, and doesn’t seem to care much what happens after that.

He told reporters it was time to get out and let others “figure the situation out.”

To the president’s surprise, Republicans revolted.

“The biggest lie being told by the administration is that ISIS is defeated,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the president’s golf partners, using an acronym for Islamic State. “This is going to lead to ISIS’ resurgence.”

So the president rolled his decision partway back — although nobody in his administration seemed to know what his new position was.

“We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters,” Trump insisted in a tweet.

Tell that to the Kurds, who fear they have been left defenseless in the face of the larger and more powerful Turkish army.

Then explain to the Kurds why they should continue guarding 12,000 imprisoned Islamic State militants if Turks begin invading Kurdish villages.

Before he reconsidered, Trump argued that he doesn’t owe anything to the Kurds despite Pentagon promises to them while they helped prevent Islamic State from becoming a direct threat to the United States.

“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so,” he tweeted.

The Kurds weren’t allies, it turns out; in Trump’s view, they were subcontractors.

Trump dismissed them the same way he dismissed the painters, carpenters, piano tuners and other contractors he underpaid or refused to pay on hotel projects in Las Vegas and Atlantic City: They should be glad they got paid anything at all.

The president’s disdain isn’t new. He’s abandoned allies before.

Last December, he abruptly announced that he was pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, prompting Defense Secretary James N. Mattis to resign in protest.

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“You’re going to have to get the next secretary of defense to lose to ISIS,” he told Trump.

This summer, the president blocked nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, a U.S. ally fighting a Russian-backed insurgency.

House Democrats are examining whether he withheld the arms to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on a potential 2020 political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

In Europe, Trump has repeatedly questioned why the United States is still in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the 29-nation defense alliance that has protected the continent for 70 years — and which rushed to America’s aid in Afghanistan after 9/11.

He’s questioned the U.S. military alliance with Japan, complaining that Japan exports cars to the United States but isn’t required to defend our shores.

“Our allies take advantage of us far greater than our enemies,” he said en route to a recent summit — with our allies.

The lesson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last year, is that Europe can no longer rely on the United States as a partner.

Trump treats domestic political allies that way, too.

In 2017, when his campaign to repeal Obamacare ran into trouble, he blamed House Republican leaders for passing an unpopular bill that he called “mean” — even though they had passed it with his approval.

And this week, as Trump announced his retreat in Syria, GOP senators said none of them had been consulted in advance — not even Graham, who had slavishly made himself a one-man cheering section for the White House.

Even though they were on recess and away from Washington, GOP senators took time to try to tutor the president in some basic principles of international relations.

“Honorable nations stand by their friends,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted. “

Our enemies and rivals (Iran, Russia, etc.) don’t abandon their allies. If we want allies to stand with America in the future, we shouldn’t either.”

“By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible: America is an unreliable ally,” Graham wrote. “This decision makes it difficult for the U.S. to recruit allies against radical Islam.”

The president chose an odd time to remind Republican lawmakers of his mercurial nature. The Senate may soon be sitting as a jury in his impeachment trial.

He could use some allies over the next few months.

Instead, he’s taught the senators, as well as the Kurds, a useful lesson: You can offer your loyalty to Trump.

Just don’t expect any in return.

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Doyle McManus writes for the Los Angeles Times.


(32) comments

random annoying bozo

now that the united states has become energy independent (thanks to the policies of Donald J Trump), and not reliant on middle east oil, i'm glad to see that gradually we are getting out of the quagmire that is the middle east....we have been the policemen of that area of the world for far too long.


Gosh. And I was always under the impression that we became energy independent during the Obama administration, bozo. We will see how successful this ploy was by Trump in future Middle East conflicts that we most assuredly will not be able to ignore, having to put our own troops back in there, but this time with nobody trusting us enough to become allied to our agenda there. Watch many of these groups now go to Russia and China and Iran for support.


yea things are going great there bozo. ISIS fighters in jail are now free to start trouble again. Our once allies, the Kurds, are facing possible genocide by Turkey's forces. There is more chaos and killing going on, so what can be wrong with that. It was forward thinking on Trump's part, can't wait to hear his long term plan. If he has one.


I bet the "wizard' takes a wiz on his friends,muxch like the Orange Carcass does on an hourly basis. If effing over your friends is your gig,hook up with any God fearing Trump-Humper and they will show you the way.

Rick Czeczok

The socialist activist on this board are looking and sounding more like the communist party of years ago. Interesting how they hide.


Lol! Is there nothing you can't confuse?

Mr Wizard

I think it's way past time for all you macho libs to boot up, grab you pee shooters, and hop on the next carbon free mode of transport you can find to get to Syria and kick some butt. Our military has had enough of the war games there. Our President is actually going to get us out of a nearly 20 year old war. Why do you have a problem with that?


If you cannot see the problem with that, Mr. Lizard, you are a wizard of nothing but gross ignorance. But we already knew that.

Mr Wizard

Like I said Homely, there is room for you also. Boot up A$$hole.


Spoken like the lizard you are, mister. Your forked tongue is showing.


Abandoning the Kurds is despicable yes. But I find the headline a bit odd. "Trump proves he can't be trusted". Oh please:

The middle-class tax cuts promised 2 weeks before the mid-term elections

The big beautiful healthcare you're gonna love

The fixing of our crumbling infrastructure

Mexico will pay for the wall!

Absolutely hands off Social Security and Medicare

That is enough for now, I find I grow tired. If anybody still trusts Trump, leaving our allies out to dry won't convince them.


You can keep your current health plan and your doctor. Shovel ready projects, oop’s, your families healthcare will be 2500 dollars less, per family. What Democrats did by turning against our oldest and most reliable friend in the Middle East, Israel, now that’s much worse. The Kurds were paid and paid well for their help and that is about the extent of it. The same thing was done in Vietnam, other’s were willing to fight if they were paid. These are considered mercenaries, nothing more.


OMG! new2, the Syrian Kurds did not sacrifice 11,000 of their fighters to get a pay check, they fought and defeated ISIS because the Kurds want to survive as a people, 40 million of them spread across four countries, the largest ethnic group in the world that does not have its own country. Why do you continually get on these boards and show your complete, utter ignorance? What would have happened if you HAD been a crack HR man for a Fortune 300 company and you continually spoke publicly with the sort of ignorant misinformation that you display on these boards? Have you no self respect?


I noticed only healthcare was addressed. She must be slowing down. Or not have answers for the truth.


Yup, and we helped them to survive. Shall we help them forever?


They helped us survive too D. Your knowledge of foreign affairs is even less than domestic affairs. We had a pact with them and now Trump set them up to be slaughtered. But that is ok with you, your 401k is doing just fine.


Apparently not but that’s why I’m always so curious as to your almost reverent interest in my views, I suspect you appreciate the education you receive. I guess a near 40 year career with a Fortune 300 company by itself should tell you something. I suspect the dummies running the company just let all the ignorant misinformation go, maybe they thought it didn’t matter, it had to something. Maybe, just maybe this crack HR guy does know something, you think maybe that could be it.

Why do you suppose Democrats want another war with Turkey, are they war mongers or what. I guess NATO and European countries will step up to the plate, wouldn’t that be nice. One would think they would lead the way. Couple of side notes here. Hillary and NBC trying to cover up the Weinstein mess, check Ronan Farrow’s interview and book.


Right on Newt. That near 40 year career must have been a real laugh riot. Your memos must have been the talk of the lunch room. By the way, according to a Fox News poll 51% of American voters want your guy Trump impeached and removed from office. Now that's some news I can agree with.


D, I KNEW you would eventually show up with some weak rationalization to show us that, indeed, Donald Trump was incomparably wise in pulling the U.S. troop presence out of Kurdish territory after "negotiating" with the Turkish president to allow them in to slaughter the Kurds. This certainly sets the standard for the strength of American promises to its allies after we relied on the Kurds to carry our water in defeating ISIS. Now that ISIS will probably have a resurgence, we won't have that ally anymore, so we will either have to put hundreds of thousands of our own troops back in there to clean it up or just let them take over and lead disaffected Muslims in their war against the West. Which "war" would you prefer we wage? I guess it is folly for me to question an authority like you on global politics, a topic I believe you say you know more about than anybody else who populates these Tribune forums.


Well, new2, if your analysis has concluded that the Democrats (the ones with the capital D) are campaigning for a war with Turkey, I guess those company directors of that Fortune 300 outfit you claim to have served in as a crack HR man should have listened more carefully to you. You wouldn't have lasted nearly 40 years if they had ever taken you seriously. Was it your brother in law who was the CEO who kept you on?


Oh yeah...the d-bag,climatedope,newtfox2, Mucho1 and the ilk,will .no doubt salute, their Coitus Interruptuss,puller outter and chief misogynist, for perpetual crimes against humanity. Ya'll can't fix stupid. The Kurds,supposedly, never fought in WW2

Neither did the Nazis, when they bombed Pearl Harbor?. The downside of electing a cerifiable whackjob, who"s ENTIRE family were draft dodgers(even grandpa in the Fadderlandt) and not one ever ser5ved in the Armed Forces of the United states.


Trump can't see anything beyond his own avaricious grasp. And now the Kurds and Europe will pay the price. Trump has ruined every international relationship through his ignorance and narcissism.


Do we really need to wonder any more if Trump is incompetent. This latest move by him in Syria is so wrong even his own party disagrees vehemently. But leave it to the Trump worshipers, they will rationalize and normalize the insanity that comes out of the white house. I don't get this blind loyalty stuff. That is what erodes a society, and politics and even the constitution. History has taught us that, if you have a mind to learn from it. Sadly that is not the case for many here.


It appears you do not get lots of things. Remembaybe forgot smell er how Obama handled an issue in Syria, civilians were gassed and what did Obama do, nothing. He even had a line drawn, made no difference or he forgot where he drew it. You maybe just forgot some of these things.


"Remembaybe forgot smell er," Deep thoughts by Fox News Newt. Your use of English is next level crazy Newt. This is right up there with Covfefe. I see why you like Trump so much. Stable Genius indeed. More likely unstable idiot.


new2, you have no idea what Obama did in response. What you DO know is that he did not shoot from the hip without careful consideration of all options that thousands of analysts in the State Department and the Pentagon work on constantly. That is the style of the present occupant of the White House, but it was not Obama's style.

The whole "red line" episode in Syria was not Obama's finest hour, but it was not the disaster that your Fox News talking points like to make it out to be. He worked the diplomatic end, and ultimately "Defying skeptics, international inspectors removed 1,300 tons of chemical weapons from Syria", some of them from sites that later fell under control ISIS.

Obama DID set in motion the ground war that destroyed the nascent ISIS "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq. Let's see what Trump will do with his gigantic mistake in giving Turkey the nod to go ahead and go into Syria to slaughter our former Kurdish allies.


They weren't our allies. They were the enemy of our enemy and we owe them nothing. We're not the world's police. We only get involved militarily when it's in the interest of our country--as it ought to be.


that is b.s. D. We don't set up our allies to be slaughtered because our president doesn't know what the heck he is doing. Kurds were our allies against Hussein. against ISIS and against Syrian government forces. Their sacrifice for this country deserves much better. Course you and Trump never sacrificed one thing so what would you know.


Dmoney you have the ethics of Trump. You two deserve each other.


D, you are beginning to compete with new2 for winner of the contest of the most raw, ignorant opinions on these boards.


Dman I am curious just what is your definition of an ally? I do not know if we had a formal treaty with the Kurds as they are not a country. They are an ethnic group found in Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq. They speak their own language. They have been fighting with us in our long lived wars in the middle east. To just abandon them on a whim is deplorable, but typical of the immoral person that currently is our president.


if I know the Dman, his definition of ally, like most of his definitions will change over and over to suit his argument at the moment. He has to change the end game and move the goal posts cause he presents arguments that make little sense and need a constant spin.

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