Donald Trump’s impulsive decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria has turned into a full-on disaster in shockingly little time. An estimated 130,000 people have already been displaced as Turkey ramps up its assault on the Kurdish forces that the U.S. abandoned. The U.S. bombed its own anti-ISIS base so that its store of munitions and equipment didn’t fall into enemy hands. And this week, congressional Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly voted to condemn Trump’s withdrawal. Trump has defended his decision by saying that the Kurds—who, again, fought ISIS on behalf of the U.S.—are "no angels" and said of Syria, "It’s a lot of sand. They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So there’s a lot of sand that they can play with."
Still, Trump does seem to be aware that allowing a genocide is a bad thing—or at the very least he realizes it’s bad optics. On Wednesday, he reportedly sent a letter to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The letter is baffling to say the least. Trump addresses Erdoğan, an overt autocrat, as "His Excellency," and the body of the letter itself reads like a third grader doing a Goodfellas impression.
Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will. I’ve already given you a little sample with respect to Pastor Brunson.
I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don’t let the world down. You can make a great deal. General Mazloum is willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past. I am confidentially enclosing a copy of his letter to me, just received.
History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!
I will call you later.
This is much harsher wording than Trump typically uses when talking to autocrats, especially since he usually fawns over them, as he’s done with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, and, of course, Russian president Vladimir Putin. Erdoğan doesn’t seem to have been intimidated. Instead, he was reportedly furious, and a government source told the BBC, "President Erdogan received the letter thoroughly rejected it and put it in the bin.
A spokesperson for the Kremlin also mocked Trump’s letter, saying, "You don’t often encounter such language in correspondence between heads of state. It’s a highly unusual letter." In diplomatic terms, "highly unusual" is akin to saying "batshit crazy." The Kurds, meanwhile, are now saying they’re willing to partner with Russia and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in exchange for protection from Turkey.
Since Trump’s announcement that he would pull troops from Syria, Erdoğan has been particularly brazen and unapologetic about Turkey’s military campaign. In a Wall Street Journal published earlier this week titled "Turkey Is Stepping Up Where Others Fail to Act," he wrote, "My administration concluded that the international community wasn’t going to act, so we developed a plan for northern Syria."
Vice president Mike Pence and secretary of state Mike Pompeo are currently in Turkey to meet with Erdoğan, who said earlier this week that he would only meet with Trump but then walked back on the demand. Which may very well be for the best—whatever that is at this point.
Originally Appeared on GQ