Hard to say when we’ve reached bottom, isn’t it? There are so many things about the Trump administration that offend human sensibilities, our sense of American decency and our understanding of Democratic principles that it’s hard to single out one of Trump’s actions or one of his tweets as the worst. Separating migrant children from their families, cutting the number of refugees allowed into the country, ignoring climate change, signaling simpatico with white supremacists, shaking down a foreign leader for political dirt on the Biden family — it’s like being forced to pick the type of torture that your tormentor will inflict on you. And each time you think you’ve found the one thing that best demonstrates Trump’s depravity — my most recent choice was his cruel reduction in refugee slots to a record low — something else comes along.
Tucker Carlson might scrunch his nose and suggest that most Americans know nothing about Syrian Kurds, but, even if you were not up to speed on our relationship with them, you could learn enough in a day of reading to understand that Trump betrayed an ally and might by now have caused deaths. After a phone call with the strong-man leader of Turkey, Trump abruptly announced that American troops would withdraw from a border area where a fragile peace has been maintained, allowing Turkey’s military to remove the Kurds they have never wanted there. The Kurds had been allied with the U.S. since the Obama administration in the fight against ISIS that Trump applauded. The latest news reports say Turkey undertook ground and air assaults on Kurdish militia in Syria, and experts on the region believe there’s nothing, including Trump’s crazy, self-aggrandizing threat of more economic sanctions, that would stop Turkey from fully invading northeast Syria. Al Jazeera reports that Syrian Kurds issued a “general mobilization” call to civilians to head to the border to “resist” an imminent military operation by neighboring Turkey that could lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
If an invasion happens, Trump will be responsible for a war, and in war there are deaths, in war there is trauma, and people are displaced, and displaced people become refugees, the refugees that the U.S. under Trump no longer wants. When we were in the midst of the Watergate scandal 45 years ago, it was called “our long national nightmare.” But Watergate was a mild daydream compared to what we are going through today.