The tortured history of the US-Kurd relationship

The decision by Donald Trump to essentially wash his hands of the region that spans the Syria-Turkey border and is claimed by them as part of their proposed homeland has created a firestorm of protest from the political-military establishment and even from Republicans who up until now have been willing to support Trump in everything he has done, however outrageous. After a phone call with the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (who views the Kurds as terrorists), Trump reportedly decided to remove the 50-100 US special forces in the region. There have been strenuous White House denials that that he gave the Turks the green light to enter the region and go after the Kurds.

Critics of this move have accused Trump of betraying the Kurds. This would not be the first time that the US has been accused of using the Kurds to achieve their own goals and then dumping them. Jon Schwarz has been counting and writes that this makes the eighth time this has happened and that, “Nothing in this world is certain except death, taxes, and America betraying the Kurds”. He says that there is a simple explanation for why there is this hot-and-cold relationship.

The U.S. has now betrayed the Kurds a minimum of eight times over the past 100 years. The reasons for this are straightforward.

The Kurds are an ethnic group of about 40 million people centered at the intersection of Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. Many naturally want their own state. The four countries in which they live naturally do not want that to happen.

On the one hand, the Kurds are a perfect tool for U.S. foreign policy. We can arm the Kurds in whichever of these countries is currently our enemy, whether to make trouble for that country’s government or to accomplish various other objectives. On the other hand, we don’t want the Kurds we’re utilizing to ever get too powerful. If that happened, the other Kurds — i.e., the ones living just across the border in whichever of these countries are currently our allies — might get ideas about freedom and independence.

With Trump’s thumbs-up for another slaughter of the Kurds, America is now on betrayal No. 8. Whatever you want to say about U.S. actions, no one can deny that we’re consistent.

So support for the Kurds depends on which country they are fighting against. If it is a designated enemy of the US, they get support. If is it a US ally, then they become expendable. And sometimes, as in the notorious case of Iraq, the same country can go from being a US ally to an enemy and back again to being an ally, with the Kurds being jerked around with each change.

Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the most bloodthirsty warmongers in US politics and who has been sucking up to Trump in the most disgusting manner, sounded like an outraged lover who is humiliated at being unceremoniously dumped, because although he prided himself on being Trump’s advisor on foreign affairs, he was neither consulted nor informed about Trump’s decision before it was announced.

Robert Mackey hs been watching Fox News and writes that that Trump propaganda organization has been thrown into disarray by the news, with their program hosts know quite knowing what to do.

Republican senators, who have been ducking for cover whenever they have been asked about all the other things that Trump has done, have finally found something that they feel they should criticize. This includes Republican leader of the senate Mitch McConnell, house minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and others.

Even Pat Robertson, that eminent expert on all political matters domestic and foreign, has weighed in and says that Trump is “in danger of losing the mandate of heaven” over this decision, though what form that abandonment might take is not clear.

I cannot imagine that the storm of protest over the latest betrayal of the Kurds is due to genuine concern for the Kurds from the US establishment. It is also true that the number of troops currently in the region that are being withdrawn is tiny, just 50-100. So why the uproar? One must look for deeper reasons and it is likely because these people have never really cared for anything other than projections of US military power and see this withdrawal as a sign that Trump may not be as gung-ho on using US troops in fighting forever wars as they are.

It will be interesting to see what Trump does in the face of the criticisms he is getting from his supporters.


  1. says

    That Pat Robertson quote gives evangelicals cover now when the Hamberdler is impeached or not re-elected. They’ve been saying their god put him into office, this gives them an excuse as to why he was not kept in office.

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