Remember that “tough guy” letter Donald Trump sent to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan? In it, Trump warned him not to invade Syria and go after our Kurdish allies, whose Syrian Democratic Forces lost 11,000 fighters battling against the Islamic State alongside American troops. Trump’s spontaneous decision to withdraw American forces from the region opened up an opportunity for Erdogan to go after our allies, whom he considers terrorists. Trump, who bills himself and his followers claim is a tough guy, believed a letter warning Erdogan not to be a “tough guy” and that Trump could destroy his economy would prevent him from invading.
Yeah, he ignored the letter and invaded anyway. Did Trump destroy his economy? No. Tough guy Trump invited him to the White House where Erdogan handed the “tough guy” letter right back to Trump.
On top of the White House visit, Trump offered a new trade deal to Turkey that is designed to work around sanctions Congress plans to inflict upon that nation over their purchasing a missile defense system from Russia.
Wait a minute. Isn’t Turkey a member of NATO? Isn’t Russia an adversary to NATO and the United States? Why is Trump rewarding Erdogan for invading Syria, going after our Kurdish allies, and purchasing a weapons system from our adversary? Sanctions are mandated under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), aimed at those who purchase Russian defense equipment. Yet, the Trump administration is making excuses not to implement those against Trump’s buddy, Erdogan.
Erdogan is Trump’s kind of guy. He’s thrown journalists in prisons. He’s gone after people who criticize him. He’s set events in motion that will keep him in power for years beyond his term. He’s purged judges (the average law-practicing experience of a Turkish judge is now two years). He’s restricted the ability for political opposition to be elected to their legislative body. He even annulled an Istanbul mayoral election after the opposition party won. His authoritarian management style and cronyism within the ruling party have created a climate of fear that’s paralyzing dissent and democracy. To this, Trump says, “I’m a big fan.”
In Trump’s “tough guy” letter, he told Erdogan that Ferhat Abdi Sahin, a Turkish military leader, is “willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past.” Wednesday, Erdogan rejected that idea and said Adbi was a terrorist “instrumental in the killing of hundreds of Turkish civilians.” He didn’t stop there.
Erdogan pulled out an iPad and showed Trump and the five Republican senators the White House invited a propaganda video. He was in the right place for propaganda videos. This video cast the Kurds in a bad light. According to sources present, the senators laid into Erdogan over his invasion, the Kurds, his purchase of Russian military equipment, and warned him there will be sanctions and denied the purchase of U.S. military jets (which put together with Russia’s equipment is a national security risk for us). Reportedly, Trump was mostly silent during the criticism. One source described it as “good cop/bad cop.” Later, Trump declared himself a “big fan” of Erdogan.
Trump is a big fan of people like Erdogan, Putin, Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, Rodrigo Duterte, Robert Kraft, etc.
When Trump sent his “tough guy” letter to Erdogan, professional journalists had to check with the White House to make sure it was real and they weren’t being pranked by The Onion. Its juvenile tone made it difficult to take seriously. Erdogan didn’t take it seriously. He authorized the invasion of Syria the same day he received the letter. To give it back to Trump, he had to fish it out of the trash can where he previously had disposed of it.
Trump claims he’s respected like no American president before him. His supporters think world leaders are afraid to cross him. Why would they be? After giving us nothing, North Korea just got a gift from Trump: A threat to increase the cost to South Korea of U.S. troop presence by nearly 500%. Putin attacks our country and Trump wants to invite him back to the G7 and go to a parade with him. He awards White House visits and military aid based upon a foreign country providing him with dirt on political opponents.
And yesterday, after threatening Erdogan not to be a “tough guy” and that he’ll destroy his economy, Trump gave him a pardon.
It was the first time in history a turkey has been pardoned by a poodle.
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