South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham takes a lot of heat via the media and his political foes for so often siding with President Donald Trump. On a very important international and national security matter, the senior senator is openly against the president’s policy – and should be.
Graham is promising to do everything within his power to see that Turkey is punished for its military action in Syria. Already, he has gained support for bipartisan legislation that could place “severe sanctions” on the fellow NATO country that disregarded pleas by Trump and America not to embark on an invasion.
Future actions aside, the damage has been done – and continues. Turkey sees the area across its border with Syria as a hotbed of Kurdish rebels that threaten it with terrorist attacks. Yet many of the Kurds in the region were enlisted as U.S. allies and did most of the fighting that, at least temporarily, put the ISIS terror organization on its heels.
No need to look to them again. The president deciding to remove American forces from the area and leaving the Kurds to fend for themselves against the Turkish invasion is an abandonment of people who stepped up to assist the U.S. in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.
With Turkey going even beyond what was expected in setting up a buffer zone inside Syria, the Kurds are now looking for help. And they may find it in the form of the Syrian regime and its ally, Russia. Dangerously, that could set up military confrontation between Russia and a NATO country, Turkey.
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As Trump apparently sees it, however, leaving U.S. forces in place was to set up a confrontation between the U.S. and Turkey. So he opted for a unilateral pullback. By any measure, that is abandonment of the Kurds as allies.
The implications are many with not the least being a resurgence of ISIS and other Islamic terror groups, which remain committed to their cause and action against the West and the United States in particular.
Prior to the invasion by Turkey, Graham put it this way:
“… I would hope people in the country want allies in the war. So when somebody steps up and helps America with ISIS -- which is a threat to mankind -- and we've had people killed in America because of ISIS' inspiration. So the Kurds stepped up when nobody else would to fight ISIS. If we abandon them good luck getting anybody to help America in the future with radical Islam, al-Qaeda, and ISIS.
“If you believe that Iran is a threat to the region, they're the biggest winner of this. And you may be tired of fighting radical Islam, but they're not tired of fighting you.”
Trump says he is fulfilling a campaign promise in getting U.S. forces out and putting an end to “endless wars.” Yet at the same time, the U.S. is sending more forces to bolster Saudi Arabia.
The president is right about the region being a quagmire, but it is also a place from which terrorism that can reach U.S. shores must be held in check. As much as all Americans should want our forces back home, the world as it is today does not need an isolationist America.
Our country does not need to fight every battle in every war, but we must maintain the leadership role of a reliable superpower and a force for good. In the present situation in Syria, we have dropped the ball.