Late Sunday night, the Trump White House unceremoniously dropped a shocking foreign policy announcement: the United States would now endorse a Turkish military operation in northern Syria that's likely to wipe out previously American-backed Kurdish forces in the region. The New York Times reports that Turkey has long considered the Kurds terrorists, but the U.S. has armed and relied on Kurdish fighters and the Syrian Democratic Forces in fighting the Islamic State.
In a statement, the White House said, "Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial 'Caliphate,' will no longer be in the immediate area."
Trump reportedly has numerous business interests tied up in Turkey, including a Trump Tower in Istanbul. According to Newsweek, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used the two conjoined buildings to exert pressure on Trump before. Since Trump doesn't own the project, but rather leases his name to be used on it for branding, Erdoğan called to have the name Trump scrubbed from it after Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S. He reversed himself after Trump expressed support for Erdoğan's campaign of mass arrests after a failed coup attempt in Turkey. In a 2015 interview, Trump said of Turkey, "I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul,” Trump said. “It’s called Trump Towers. Two towers, instead of one. Not the usual one, it’s two."
Brett McGurk served in national security roles under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and was Donald Trump's special envoy on ISIS until he resigned last year—one day after Jim Mattis resigned as Defense Secretary, citing irreconcilable differences with the president after Trump announced a troop withdrawal from Syria. In a lengthy Twitter thread, McGurk upbraided the Trump administration's decision, singling out the president specifically: "Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief. He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation. He sends military personnel into harm’s way with no backing. He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call."
In his own rambling tweet thread, Trump appeared to dismiss the notion that the U.S. owed any kind of loyalty to the Kurds, saying, "The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so." He added, "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.' They all hate ISIS, have been enemies for years. We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!"
The abrupt abandonment of U.S. allies has prompted even Trump's biggest cheerleaders to criticize the president's decision. South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, "If press reports are accurate this is a disaster in the making." The "press reports" here are quoting the White House's public statements on the decision. Graham added that "if this plan goes forward will introduce Senate resolution opposing and asking for reversal of this decision. Expect it will receive strong bipartisan support."
Nikki Haley, Trump's one-time ambassador to the United Nations, also condemned the move, tweeting, "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."
The most surprising criticism of Trump came from Fox & Friends, reportedly the president's favorite show. Brian Kilmeade, one of the show's three hosts, was visibly angry, asking, "The reason why our casualties were so low is because the Kurds did all the fighting. Now we’re saying, 'Okay, Turks, go wipe them out or force them out.' What kind of message is that to the next ally who wants to side with us?"
Co-host Steve Doocy tried to temper Kilmeade's outrage, saying that this was simply Trump upholding his campaign promises, which prompted Kilmeade to angrily retort, "To release ISIS fighters and abandon our allies? That’s a campaign promise?"
He went on, "All we did is arm them, and they did all the work. And now we say, 'Good luck. Good luck surviving.'" Doocy, trying to sound upbeat, said, "Well, it looks like that's the tact the White House and the president's gonna take."
On March 15, when a white supremacist livestreamed his mass shootings of a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, a country with one of the world's lowest gun homicide rates was stunned to silence. But only momentarily. The deaths of 51 New Zealanders, mostly Muslim immigrants, would not be met with a tepid countermeasure but a swift, clear response. Sean Flynn reports from Christchurch about the day of the massacre—and the days that followed.
Originally Appeared on GQ