Trump’s Syrian trifecta: Putin wins, Kurds lose, allies uncertain

Thomas Friedman in the NYT: “The job of the president, though, is to balance the understandable desire of Americans to no longer bear every burden and oppose any foe to ensure the survival of freedom with the fact that U.S. interests and values still require us to remain engaged around the world in a sustainable way.

“But sustainable engagement requires us to do at least three things: make fine distinctions, leverage allies and amplify islands of decency. Alas, Trump violated all these principles in Syria. …

“In taking responsibility with the Kurds for defeating ISIS in Syria, we relieved Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and al-Assad of a huge burden, enabling them to crush the regime’s domestic rivals. And what’s really crazy is that — we did it for free! We didn’t even demand autonomy for our Syrian Kurdish allies or power-sharing with moderate Sunni Syrian rebels. …

“For instance, Iraqi Kurdistan and the Syrian Kurdish regions, while they have plenty of corruption and tribalism, are nevertheless islands of decency where women tend to be more empowered, Islam is practiced in more moderate forms and Western liberal education is promoted in American-style universities. In just walking away from the Syrian Kurds, Trump has weakened their island of decency, rather than amplified it.

“America is better than that, even if our current president is not.”

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