One of the major areas of criticism of former President Obama was his weak foreign policy. It made America less fearsome to our adversaries. North Korea moved headlong into the nuclear military age with little to no push back. Russia invaded Ukraine and took over the Crimea – a standoff that remains today – and spread its influence in the Middle East without response from the United States other than the refusal to send Ukraine military equipment.
China continued – and even escalated — its unfair trade practices, cyber hacking of American enterprises and government agencies, theft of intellectual property and money manipulation without consequences.
ISIS was able to grow from a “junior varsity” operation – in Obama’s own words – to an established caliphate over a large portion of the Middle East – including regions of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This despite some of the most grotesque murders of all who would not join their ranks.
In one of the worst examples of Obama’s “lead from behind,” America first encouraged the uprising against Syrian despot Bashar al Assad and then abandoned the rebels to the combined forces of Russia and Syria – a victory for Iran, also. This led to one of the worst and most deadly migrations in modern history as tens of millions of Arabs and Muslims poured over the borders of Europe – destabilizing several of our NATO allies.
Part of the problem was Obama’s announced determination to have the world’s most powerful military remain mothballed.
The promise of President Trump was to reverse those trends. He came on stage to reinstate the use of American military force – or at least the credible use of it. In his dealings with North Korea, Trump brandished America’s might. He got Kim Jong-un to come to the negotiating table – something no previous administration had been able to do. His get-tough policy won the praise and confidence of South Korea and Japan.
Despite the left-wing narrative, Trump did more to push back against Russian aggression than his predecessors. He reversed Obama’s acquiescence to Russian demands to stay out of Syrian airspace. He struck against Syria for using chemical weapons. He sent military hardware to Ukraine. He moved for the expansion of NATO – much to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chagrin.
Trump changed the limpid rules of engagement imposed by Obama and brought down the ISIS caliphate, drove them out of Iraq and Syria with the surgical use of American military. He authorized the use of the MOAB (Mother of All Bombs – non-nuclear that is) to wipe out an ISIS command center in Afghanistan.
Over time, however, the Trump policy seems to have evolved. Yes, we always knew that he wanted to bring home the troops. Who wouldn’t? But it was assumed that was after achieving our international objectives – in other words, winning. He even suggested that we would get tired of winning.
More and more, however, Trump spoke of unilateral troop withdrawals. Occasionally, he proposed them only to change his mind or limit or delay the withdrawal. Still, he talked more and more about never wanting to use the military – the core weakness of the Obama administration. He underscored the new passive policy by taking no action against repeated attacks by Iran.
As a result, the Taliban in Afghanistan are waiting out the war until American troops are withdrawn. They may well take over the country again. North Korea feels less threatened and less interested in bowing to Trump’s demand of denuclearization. Al Assad – and his Russian/Iranian allies – have defeated the rebels and now retain a firm grip on the Middle East. Though far from the days of the caliphate, there are indications that ISIS is growing again.
The new more passive policy of the White House — to move our troops out of northern Syria where they are the only protection for the Kurds – has yielded to both Syrian and Turkish desires to massacre them in what will be the world’s latest genocide. This is particularly egregious since the Kurds have been among our most loyal and effective allies in the Middle East. This is more than bad policy it is a moral betrayal of the highest order. It has the potential of triggering a mass migration like Obama’s betrayal of the Syrian rebels.
This is not the first time American has acted so disgracefully. When we retreated from Vietnam, we left behind the Hmong. Like the Kurds, they were among our best and fiercest allies. Those who were not fortunate enough to migrate to refugee camps in Thailand were massacred by the millions.
It is almost beyond comprehension that Trump’s removal of our troops from northern Syria is in concert with Turkish dictator Recep Erdogan — who has announced his intentions to invade Syria to wipe out the Kurds. Trump has made America complicit in the annihilation of a good and decent people – and a great ally of the United States.
While this has nothing officially to do with the effort to impeach Trump, it will not inure well among many of Trump’s defenders and potential voters. I can easily defend Trump from the false political narratives and the dishonest attacks on his administration, but I have no words in defense or support of this decision. It is one hundred percent wrong, immoral – so wrong that if I were Secretary of Defense, I would resign.
So, there ‘tis.