When I bring up the president’s foibles, the refrain I usually hear from the Jewish Trumpians is that he is good for Israel. Therefore, I will address current events with that in mind. There are two major issues involving the president. One is the holding up of funds from Ukraine and the second is the situation in northern Syria. The president’s conduct in both should cause supporters of Israel concern.
Ukraine is a small country with a much larger and powerful neighbor (Russia) to its east. During the Obama administration, Russia invaded a portion of the country, Crimea, and annexed it. Ukraine needs American aid to help defend itself. Congress appropriated $250 million for military aid. Trump held up the aid until it became widely known that he was doing it. The reasons have shifted and there was an admission by his chief of staff that there was a quid pro-quo. It does not matter which excuse the White House spins, the bottom line is that military aid to an ally was being held up by the president, although authorized by Congress. Trump wanted the leader of the country to do what he wanted in order to help Trump politically.
Congress allocates more than $3 billion annually in military aid to Israel. If the president can stop the duly authorized funds from being given to Ukraine, a country that clearly needs it to defend itself against its larger enemy, what is stopping him from doing so with Israel? I expect the Trumpians to argue that he would never do so because Israel is a trusted ally of America.
My answer is to look at what is happening in northern Syria. The Kurds with air power from our country were successful in fighting against ISIS. They killed and captured many ISIS fighters. Meanwhile, it is reported the Kurds lost 11,000 fighters while there were only 17 Americans killed in action.
For a long time, Turkey wanted to wipe out the Kurdish forces because it claims they are terrorists. The United States has been a check on Turkey’s ambitions. There has been a small force between the Turkish and the Kurdish forces as a buffer to make sure that nothing bad happens. Turkey’s president, Erdogan, told Trump that he wanted to go after the Kurds. Trump then removed American forces, which was a de facto green light to invade, which Turkey did. To add insult to injury, the United States agreed to a cease-fire, which gave Turkey all it wanted without having to continue with a war – namely, a zone in Syria with no punishment.
The president’s excuse is that he wanted to fulfill a campaign promise to bring the troops home and get us out of endless wars. I could spend an article to address how ridiculous this claim is under the circumstances, but it not the focus of this article. The irony is that the troops are not coming home but are being redeployed to Iraq.
The president also trashed the Kurds by saying “they didn’t help us at Normandy” (D-Day invasion of France June 6, 1944).
The message is that the United States cannot be trusted as a partner. For the president it is all about what he thinks will help him in the next election.
If Trump could abandon the Kurds who fought with America and lost 11,000 lives, then why could he not do so to Israel who has not fought with America to eradicate ISIS?
Clearly Israel was worried because Secretary of State Pompeo went to Israel to soothe Israel’s government’s concerns. It does not matter what Pompeo or anyone else in the government says, since the self-proclaimed “stable genius” is running the United States foreign policy mainly through tweet.
Trump has also promised to get us out of the Middle East and cut foreign aid, of which Israel is a big recipient.
Another effect of Trump’s action with the Kurds is that it helps ISIS. ISIS fighters have already escaped. Kurds must send troops who are guarding the prisons to fight the Turks. ISIS may hate the West, but Israel and Jews are their top targets.
Also, Trump’s abandoning the Kurds and Americans leaving the area is a boon to Iran, which has been a supporter of the Syrian government. A stronger Iran is never good for Israel.
These are trying times for America and its allies under this president. Let’s hope that the disaster with the Kurds and the criticism he has received will cause him to take a step back and listen to the professionals. The president has on occasion back tracked, as he did with having his property host the G7 summit due to criticism from all sides. Trump will not listen to Democrats, but he might listen to his supporters. This is the chance for the Jewish Trumpians to stand up and tell the president that what he is doing is endangering Israel.