The Trump White House shocked the U.S. military and the defense community over the weekend with an announcement that U.S. forces, which have been working with Kurdish-led forces in northeastern Syria, will be pulling out — a decision that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wholeheartedly agrees with. And economist and veteran New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman has three theories on the matter — all of which he asserts paint a troubling picture of Trump.
Monday on Twitter, Krugman posted, “So, did Trump just betray the Kurds because (a) He has business interests in Turkey, (b) Erdogan, being a brutal autocrat, is his kind of guy, (c) His boss Vladimir Putin told him to. Remarkable that all three stories are perfectly plausible.”
Trump, to be sure, has had very friendly relations with Erdogan. Prior to Erdogan’s presidency, Turkey was among the most liberal and democratic countries in the Islamic world. But it has taken an increasingly authoritarian turn under Erdogan, who Trump has repeatedly praised. Trump has been highly critical of long-time NATO allies like Germany and the U.K., but in 2018, he gave Erdogan a friendly fist bump and exalted him as the NATO member who “does things the right way.”
Another authoritarian Trump has often spoken highly of is Russian President Vladimir Putin. And U.S. withdrawal from northeastern Syria is a decision that will not only please Erdogan, but Putin as well.
So did Trump just betray the Kurds because (a) He has business interests in Turkey (b) Erdogan, being a brutal auto… https://t.co/CEFXJF1VhG— Paul Krugman (@Paul Krugman)1570456425.0
Krugman is decidedly liberal and a frequent Trump critic, but some people on the right are criticizing the Syria withdrawal as well. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, usually a Trump defender, tweeted that “if press reports are accurate,” the withdrawal is “a disaster in the making.” This is a rare example of Krugman and Graham, who seldom agree on anything, both being critical of a Trump Administration policy.
Critics of the withdrawal fear that ISIS (Islamic State, Iraq and Syria) could regain ground in that part of the world as a result. Trump, however, has maintained that the ISIS caliphate has been “defeated 100%.”
The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago. We stayed and got deeper and de… https://t.co/1jkgAxrqRi— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1570448433.0
I don’t know all the details regarding President Trump’s decision in northern Syria. In process of setting up phon… https://t.co/YGuzpiI9Wj— Lindsey Graham (@Lindsey Graham)1570450604.0