When President Donald Trump pulled American troops out of northern Syria, virtually giving Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the green light to attack the region’s Kurds, he likely didn’t anticipate a key factor that might get caught in the crossfire: control of U.S. nuclear weapons.
Erdogan’s forces have been raining down terror on the Kurds, long considered to be key U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS, exactly the horrifying scenario that critics of Trump’s move predicted. Turkey even fired on an outpost of U.S. special operation forces. It’s a fraught scenario for the United States to find itself in, made all the more dangerous by the fact that Turkey, itself a NATO ally, is home to an estimated 50 American nuclear weapons. The New York Times reported:
And over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans for evacuating roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons that the United States had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border, according to two American officials.
Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages. To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago.
“I think this is a first — a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at US forces,” Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies wrote last week.
The fact that American nuclear weapons have been housed in a country with an increasingly authoritarian leader like Erdogan would be concerning enough. The calamity now playing out before the world shows exactly why this state of affairs can suddenly veer toward disaster and should have been ended years ago.
The Times noted, too, that Erdogan recently expressed the desire for his regime to obtain nuclear weapons of its own, despite international rule limiting proliferation.
But the current mess was triggered, in part, by a phone call Trump had with Erdogan just over a week ago, leading to his announcement of the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Trump has claimed that this decision was in line with his promise to avoid and cease the United States’ “endless wars,” but it seems to have triggered a new terrifying conflict of its own. And at the same time, Trump has authorized sending thousands of troops to protect Saudi Arabia, far outnumbering the minimal force that had been held in northern Syria.
There’s no respite from Trump’s vindictiveness and foolishness
As we know, even in the midst of a national emergency, Donald Trump could find time and bandwidth to continue his retribution campaign.
He dismissed Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence agencies, for doing “a terrible job,” satisfying his own thirst for vengeance for anyone who actually adhered to law and practice over blind loyalty to Trump himself. Indeed, asked about it the next day, Trump underscored his action by saying, Atkinson “was no Trump supporter, that I can tell you.”
It was an act that we once would have labeled corruption, by Democrats and Republicans – that is using the office for personal purposes – if Congress and too many Americans had not since become inured by so many like instances.
This is how Taiwan and South Korea bucked the global lockdown trend
As the coronavirus pandemic sparks global lockdowns, life has continued comparatively unhindered in places like Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong after their governments and citizens took decisive early action against the unfolding crisis.
At first glance Taiwan looks like an ideal candidate for the coronavirus. The island of 23 million lies just 180 kilometres (110 miles) off mainland China.
Yet nearly 100 days in, Taiwan has just 376 confirmed cases and five fatalities while restaurants, bars, schools, universities and offices remain open.
The government of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose deputy is an epidemiologist, made tough decisions while the crisis was nascent to stave off the kind of pain now convulsing much of the rest of the world.
Republican ex-lawmaker with coronavirus scolds Wisconsin GOP for forcing voters to risk their health
On CNN Tuesday, former Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), who is himself dealing with a bout of COVID-19, chastised the Wisconsin GOP for doing everything in their power to block the state elections from being moved — and forcing many voters to stand in line and risk exposure to the virus to cast their ballot.
"I have to tell you, here in Pennsylvania we have a Democratic governor and Republican legislature," Dent told host Don Lemon. "They postponed the election here from April 28 until June 2. Without any controversy. Everybody agreed it was the right thing to do and they moved on. I'm surprised Wisconsin took this risk, knowing they don't have to."