In Which I Try to Make Sense of Donald Trump’s Middle East Policy

A Kurdish refugee in northern Syria watches airstrikes in the city of Kobani.Dimitrios Chantzaras/NurPhoto/ZUMA

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I’m sort of catching up on things, so tell me if I have this straight:

  • Trump talked to Turkey’s president last night and agreed to let him invade northern Syria if Turkey was willing to take a few thousand ISIS prisoners off our hands.
  • After the phone call, Trump decided to go a step further and withdraw all American forces from northern Syria, thus giving Turkey a completely free hand.
  • None of Trump’s aides or military advisors knew he was planning to do this.
  • Eventually someone explained to Trump that Turkey didn’t actually care about ISIS. They just wanted to wipe out the Kurds in northern Syria, who have fought along our side in the war against ISIS for many years. Turkey considers them terrorists.
  • Informed of this, Trump tweeted that, hey, we paid the Kurds plenty for their help, so everything is even. Besides, he implied, maybe Turkey has a point about the Kurds.
  • Even Republicans couldn’t stomach this, so Trump hastily tweeted that if anything bad happened, we could always “go back & BLAST!”
  • Republicans still couldn’t stomach this sellout, so then Trump tweeted that if Turkey does anything “off limits”—whatever that is—“I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey.”

And . . . I guess that’s where we stand. This is one of the things I hate most about Trump. I happen to favor troop withdrawals from the Middle East, which makes the situation with the Kurds a genuinely tough one in my mind. Somehow, though, even when Trump does something I generally favor, he does it so stupidly and ham-handedly that it’s almost as if he’s trying to prove the hawks were right all along.

This was never going to be an easy situation to wind down, but there were certainly ways to do it without destroying America’s reputation as a reliable ally. As of today, however, it looks like that ship has sailed.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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