An incensed Meghan McCain went “a little bit rogue” on Monday’s The View, launching into an impassioned, minutes-long criticism of President Donald Trump‘s decision to pull back from allied Kurdish forces in Syria ahead of pending Turkish action there — a reversal of American policy in the protracted conflict with the Islamic State.
“To everyone in the White House and every Republican who was mad that President Obama pulled out of Iraq: You feckless, unpatriotic cowards!” McCain, 34, said with visible anger.
She began her remarks by acknowledging “I’m going a little bit rogue” — and later apologized to co-host Joy Behar for taking up the time during the episode for Behar’s birthday — but, McCain continued, “I’ve been so mad this morning and so upset about this news that we are abandoning our Kurdish allies in the Middle East.”
“These are allies of ours that American soldiers are continuing to fight alongside. All we did was arm them, and they fought for America. And right now we’re just saying, ‘We’re just going to leave them and abandon them,’ ” she said.
“I cannot believe I am waking up in the morning seeing this kind of news,” McCain said. “And I don’t care that [Trump] ran on pulling troops out, there’s a whole different thing. We leave this, this is a great day for ISIS and a great day for [Syrian president] [Bashar al-] Assad and shame on everyone who is supporting this.”
“I’m sorry, this is not the topic, but I just couldn’t come out here today and not say this,” she said.
.@MeghanMcCain speaks out against U.S. pulling troops from Syria: “Shame on everyone who is supporting this.”— The View (@TheView) October 7, 2019
“These are allies of ours that American soldiers are still continuing to fight alongside. Right now, we’re just saying we’re just going to leave them and abandon them.” pic.twitter.com/FXJ15ZMQZe
Late Sunday, the White House announced that the U.S. military would essentially pull back from Northern Syria as Turkey would be “moving forward with its long-planned operation” into the country and likely escalating tensions with the Kurds, whom they view as terrorists.
The move was widely seen as the Trump administration capitulating to Turkey’s push to deal with Kurdish forces along their southern border.
“Turkey considers the Kurdish forces to be a terrorist insurgency, and has long sought to end American support for the group,” The New York Times reported while noting, however, that “Kurdish fighters … have been the United States’ most reliable partner in fighting the Islamic State in a strategic corner of northern Syria.”
According to the Times, the U.S. and Turkey have been trying to create a “safe zone” in Syria along its shared border with Turkey where Turkey could then return the many refugees it has taken in during Syria’s grinding, bloody civil war.
The “safe zone” was also intended to ease tensions from the Kurds being so close to Turkey, according to CNN.
Though President Trump, 73, cast his move as removing the U.S. from a conflict for which it has little responsibility, he also inserted uncertainty into the broader U.S. involvement in the Middle East — such as the ultimate fate of thousands of captured ISIS fighters who for now are being overseen by Kurdish forces in Syria.
According to the White House’s Sunday statement, those combatants would become Turkey’s problem.
Though devastated by sustained military pressure in recent years, ISIS continues to operate.
“Allowing Turkey to move into northern Syria is one of the most destabilizing moves we can do in the Middle East,” Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, tweeted Sunday, according to the Times. “The Kurds will never trust America again. They will look for new alliances or independence to protect themselves.”
In a series of tweets, Trump defended his decision as part of his winning campaign platform of ending America’s armed conflicts abroad and contended that withdrawal did not mean carte blanche for Turkish military operations in the area.
“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,” Trump tweeted.
“They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families,” he wrote.
On Monday, the Pentagon said the U.S. government was not “endorsing” Turkey’s move into Syria, according to CNN.
Of the Kurds, Trump tweeted, “[They] fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. … I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.”
“Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their ‘neighborhood,’ ” he wrote.
He has faced some sharp criticism from proponents of American military might as a stabilizing force in the world. Among those detractors was from Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been major Trump supporter.
Trump’s former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted Monday: “We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend.”
Speaking on The View, McCain sarcastically noted it was this issue that made Graham break with the president — “so congratulations.”
“If you think I’m mad now, you should have heard me when I first woke up in this morning,” she said. “And I just think if you support our allies, if you support people who believe in freedom and democracy and who are fighting on the right side, and you still support this at the same time, then you’re not a conservative. You’re just not. And you’re not an America-first individual.”