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Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ but What’s New about That?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is attacking President Trump for pulling US troops out of Syria, where they’ve been engaging in an illegal and bloody war against the Syrian government and its military for at least five years (not counting the three prior years when the US was providing arms and training to Syrian rebels, including groups associated with Al Qaeda).

McConnell and other Republicans, as well as most leading Democrats, are calling Trump’s move “precipitous” despite the years US troops have been fighting in Syria, and like McConnell are saying his decision is “benefitting Russia, Iran and the Assad regime,” and is a “betrayal” of America’s ally in Syria, the armed Kurdish minority.

For starters, I would argue that pretty much anything that McConnell is opposed to — such as a US military withdrawal from Syria, an improvement in US-Iranian relations, an end to the US-backed Saudi war on Yemen or an end to the state of war between the US and North Korea — is almost by definition a good thing.

In fact, I would argue that, regardless of Trump’s despicable character, personal lack of ethics or morality, his racism, sociopathy and fascist proclivities, and his willful efforts to destroy the biosphere, this bat-shit crazy president has done at least two good things: calling off an aerial blitz on Iran and deciding to pull US troops out of the Syrian civil war.

Craven Democrats who call for more war in Syria and for a war footing towards Iran, who back a new Cold War with Russia, and who apparently would prefer a nuclear North Korea to talks with that country’s ruling tyrant, all simply because Trump seems to want the opposite, are the enemies of peace, regardless of the dangers posed by the current damaged and unstable denizen of the White House.

Probably the silliest claim, trumpeted by Republicans and Democrats alike and by our leading news organizations, is that Trump, in pulling US forces out of Syria just as Turkey is massing troops and armored vehicles on Syria’s northern border for an assault on Syrian Kurdish forces, is “betraying” US allies and “ruining America’s reputation.”

What a joke!

The US, through the entire Cold War era, has used rebellious minorities and political groups to fight its battles around the globe. From the Montagnard hill people in South Vietnam and the Hmong minority in Laos to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during that country’s era of communist rule and to the Kurds in Iran, Iraq, and now Syria, the US has encouraged minorities like the Kurds to fight its battles, and now, as with the Hmong and Montagnards in Southeast Asia, it is leaving them to their fate. The US promise of an autonomous Kurdish state in northern Iraq, held out during the Iraq War and subsequent troubled occupation of that country by US forces, was forgotten as the US left Iraq. Now the Kurds of Syria are similarly being left to their fate.

This is nothing new. Those who stand with the US in its battles, incursions and wars for global dominance need to know that they will be dropped like yesterday’s garbage once the US decides to move on to other things, having wreaked the desired level of destruction upon some nation that showed the temerity to refuse being a US vassal.

Trump must be resisted for his autocratic efforts to expand the power of the president. His destruction of the environment must be challenged, as must his efforts to pack the federal courts and the Supreme Court. But when, for whatever inscrutable reasons, he manages to do something right, like trying to tamp down the conflict with Russia, to end the 69-year state of war between the US and North Korea, or to get the US out of Syria, it is madness to cynically oppose his actions simply because they are his actions.

When those actions objectively make sense, the reasons for his making them should not matter.

For all his bluster and threats, for example against Venezuela and Iran, Trump has yet to start a war as president. In that respect, he is one of only a few presidents in US history of whom that can, at least so far, be said.

We should be glad of that, and encourage more such good moves.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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