President Donald Trump shocked the foreign policy community on Monday morning after announcing that U.S. troops had begun withdrawing from Northern Syria, abandoning Kurdish fighters who were instrumental in decimating the ISIS caliphate and currently still hold numerous Islamic State fighters in custody.
Without U.S. presence, the Kurds—and their ability to contain remaining ISIS fighters—are left vulnerable to Turkish aggression.
....down, watching over a quagmire, & spending big dollars to do so. When I took over, our Military was totally dep… https://t.co/7bmmC4qSb9— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1570461649.0
While Democrats have long called for a responsible withdrawal from the United States' numerous Middle Eastern conflicts, a sudden withdraw of troops from Northern Syria was previously considered out of the question.
Now—after a wave of criticism from even some of his most devoted defenders—Trump took to Twitter again to clarify that his initial announcement was NOT meant as a green light for Turkey to invade Syria, saying:
"if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey"
As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched… https://t.co/tNjd9bRijx— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1570462689.0
....the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, inclu… https://t.co/Zb51wQ2qQC— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1570462689.0
People saw red flags all over the place, including Trump ally Piers Morgan.
I, in my own great and unmatched wisdom, consider this tweet to be off limits. Please destroy & obliterate it… https://t.co/v7kmGZNIkI— Piers Morgan (@Piers Morgan)1570467106.0
NBC News' foreign policy analyst:
“I, in my great and unmatched wisdom,... ?” Who talks or writes like this? The closest i can come up with was Qad… https://t.co/AYNLBTPX1s— Richard Engel (@Richard Engel)1570465764.0
A prominent psychologist:
Am I the only psychologist who finds this claim and this threat truly alarming? Wouldn’t these normally trigger a m… https://t.co/6td4XGAPMP— Daniel Gilbert (@Daniel Gilbert)1570465576.0
Trump's 2020 Republican primary challenger:
“Great and unmatched wisdom"?? All we have seen from @realDonaldTrump is unmatched greed and corruption, and now—th… https://t.co/uVB5PfFrf5— Gov. Bill Weld (@Gov. Bill Weld)1570478033.0
As well as his own co-author of The Art of the Deal:
Trump has told us for a long time that he is a "stable genius" when actually he is wildly unstable and ignorant. To… https://t.co/YzkP8NPQc4— Tony Schwartz (@Tony Schwartz)1570471240.0
And the hits kept coming:
OMG. Now the moron trumpets his own “great and unmatched wisdom.” Is there no limit to his ludicrous self-inflating… https://t.co/DHTRZxgCZK— Laurence Tribe (@Laurence Tribe)1570471078.0
@realDonaldTrump "great and unmatched wisdom" FFS. 100% Trump right here... https://t.co/6qCWL2NZff— Cody Dog (@Cody Dog)1570466870.0
Hey, @GOP!!! This is a totally cool and normal thing for a president to say, right?? Hey, @Jim_Jordan, is he jus… https://t.co/eydXg6PsMK— Chris Evans (@Chris Evans)1570469590.0
In reality, of course, ISIS hasn't been 100% captured, as Trump has often claimed. If anything, this decision makes Syria and further areas in the Middle East more vulnerable to an ISIS resurgence. The Syrian Democratic Forces responsible for the captivity of ISIS fighters fear a weakened ability to contain imprisoned Islamic State devotees while fending off aggression from Turkey without U.S. assistance.
Even if the false claim that 100% of ISIS is captured were true, they're now more likely to see escape or even release. Trump's own former envoy to the region, Brett McGurk, confirmed this, as did a Kurdish official, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, and Trump-supporting Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
The WH statement tonight on Syria after Trump spoke with Erdogan demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of a… https://t.co/uPgHrtwCbX— Brett McGurk (@Brett McGurk)1570427779.0
Syria Kurdish official told us, reacting to Trump’s overnight decision. “The Americans are traitors. They have aba… https://t.co/S50EhJYLDb— Richard Engel (@Richard Engel)1570443000.0
The President's Syria announcement is, like much of his foreign policy, impulsive and dangerous. This decision en… https://t.co/wYJJPiYS2j— Adam Schiff (@Adam Schiff)1570469298.0
* Turkey does not have the capability to keep ISIS from re-emerging and their primary target is the Kurds – not ISI… https://t.co/gM2dV0sAuk— Lindsey Graham (@Lindsey Graham)1570463780.0
What's more, threatening to eradicate the economy of Turkey is hardly a sign of a clean withdrawal.
Trump proclaims that he has "great and unmatched wisdom" -- Also threatens to obliterate the economy of a NATO ally. https://t.co/wYFthNcTqz— Jackson Proskow (@Jackson Proskow)1570462848.0
Threatening to obliterate the economy of a NATO ally is probably not going to reassure any of Trump's critics on Sy… https://t.co/lIwyW3ZQss— Garrett Haake (@Garrett Haake)1570463042.0
Threatening to “destroy and obliterate” the economy of a NATO ally is insane. It’s also incredibly damaging to our… https://t.co/SwFMveI3WE— Tommy Vietor (@Tommy Vietor)1570465683.0
Judging from the "great and unmatched" wisdom so poorly demonstrated in his tweet, the Trump administration won't relent on its decision to abandon the Kurds.