The backstage struggle between the Bush interventionists and the America-firsters who first backed Donald Trump for president just exploded into open warfare, which could sunder the Republican Party.

At issue is Trump’s decision to let the Turkish army enter Northern Syria, to create a corridor between Syrian Kurds and the Turkish Kurds of the PKK, which the U.S. and Turkey regard as a terrorist organization.

“A disaster in the making,” says Lindsey Graham. “To abandon the Kurds” would be a “stain on America’s honor.”

“A catastrophic mistake,” said Rep. Liz Cheney.

“If reports about US retreat in Syria are accurate,” tweeted Marco Rubio, Trump will have “made a grave mistake.”

“The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake,” said ex-U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, “we must always have the backs of our allies. “But of our NATO ally of almost 70 years,” Haley said, “Turkey is not our friend.”

Sen. Mitt Romney called it a “betrayal:”

“The President’s decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal. It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster.”

Trump tweeted this defense of his order to U.S. forces not to resist Turkish intervention and the creation of a Turkish corridor in Syria from the eastern bank of the Euphrates to Iraq:

“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. ... I held off this fight for ... almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.”

When, in December, Trump considered ordering all U.S. troops home from Syria, Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned in protest.

Behind this decision is Trump’s exasperation at our NATO allies’ refusal to take back for trial their own citizens whom we and the Kurds captured fighting for ISIS.

The U.S. has “pressed France, Germany, and other European nations, from which many captured ISIS fighters came, to take them back, but they ... refused,” said a Sunday White House statement. “The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost. ... Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years.”

What are the arguments interventionists are using to insist that U.S. forces remain in Syria indefinitely?

If we pull out, says Graham, the Kurds will be forced, for survival, to ally themselves with Bashar Assad.

True, but the Kurds now occupy a fourth of Syria, and this is not sustainable. We have to consider reality. Assad, the Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah have won the war against the Sunni rebels we and our Arab friends armed and equipped.

We are told that the Kurds will be massacred by Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan, who sees them as terrorist allies of the PKK.

But the Turks occupied the Syrian border west of the Euphrates and the Kurds withdrew without massacres. And how long must we stay in Syria to defend the Kurds against the Turks? Forever?

If we depart, ISIS will come back, says Cheney: “Terrorists thousands of miles away can and will use their safe-havens to launch attacks against America.”

But al-Qaida and ISIS are in many more places today than they were when we intervened in the Middle East. Must we fight forever over there — to be secure over here? Why cannot Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States deal with ISIS and al-Qaida in their own backyard?

Why are ISIS and al-Qaida over there our problem over here?

“This will throw the region into further chaos,” says Graham.

But if Trump’s decision risks throwing the region into “further chaos,” what, if not wholesale U.S. intervention, created the “present chaos”?

Consider. Today, the Taliban conduct more attacks and control much more territory than they did in all the years since we first intervened in 2001.

Sixteen years after we marched to Baghdad, protests against the Iraqi regime took hundreds of lives last week, and a spreading revolt threatens the regime.

Saudi Arabia is tied down and arguably losing the war it launched against the Houthi rebels in 2015. Iran or its surrogates, with a handful of cruise missiles and drones, just shut down half of the Saudi oil production.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is awakening to his nation’s vulnerability and may be looking to negotiate with Tehran.

Among those objecting most loudly to an American withdrawal from the forever wars of the Middle East are those who were the most enthusiastic about plunging us in.

And, yes, there is a price to be paid for letting go of an empire, but it is almost always less than the price of holding on.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.” To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at

Copyright 2019 Tribune Content Agency.

(44) comments


There are as many troops in Syria now as were before they "left" in that they are now just guarding oil wells that were fine until he pulled troops out of where they were actually doing something good for the region. Having ISIS and their ilk come back now that they are supposedly leaving is a win for Russia and the ISIS type groups.


Oops! Looks like Trumps plan may be working:

Let's see how this plays out the next week or so.

Comment deleted.

We spent lives and treasure to win this battle and then we have nothing to show for giving it all up. Sane people never give up so much for nothing.


I'm proud to say I voted for president Trump. Give peace a chance people.


We had peace. We invited more war.


Peace? In Syria? Get real.


Like saying you're proud to have thrown a live grenade and give the ground the chance to cushion it.


My guess is that Pat would have liked to withdraw this column.




Why would we want to impeach such an excellent president? He gives us a new reason every week.


“A disaster in the making,” says Lindsey Graham. “To abandon the Kurds” would be a “stain on America’s honor.” “A catastrophic mistake,” said Rep. Liz Cheney. “If reports about US retreat in Syria are accurate,” tweeted Marco “The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake,” said ex-U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, “we must always have the backs of our allies. “But of our NATO ally of almost 70 years,” Haley said, “Turkey is not our friend.” Rubio, Trump will have “made a grave mistake.” Sen. Mitt Romney called it a “betrayal:” Now there are Republicans I agree with, unfortunately they are too gutless to do anything about it.

Obadiah Plainsmen

The neocons and warmongers are chomping at the bit.This could be the spark that lights the fuse for the dream team nuclear showdown, a final confrontation with Russia. The last time this happened Russia/USSR blinked first. This time Trump blinked. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Gimme that football, No, not that one , the one you're holding that's handcuff to your wrist. You can almost see the glow over the horizon.


Only Trump could bring neoconservatives and pacifist together in agreement that he (Trump) is woefully inadequate.


Yes. Get us out of the Middle East. Those of you who believe in us continuing to fight and interfere with other countries business, please take up a uniform and head overseas for the fight. How many more of our boys should come home in body bags before you are outraged? How about the daily gang and gun wars happening every day in American towns? Shouldn't our military and every good hearted citizen be fighting to improve our failing communities before spending resources to help others?

I love my country, and my family too much to sacrifice them for these demented countries. We've given enough already.

America first.


We had 1000 Troops in Syria that were there as a symbol of American support for the Kurds, who were the ones fighting for our interests in the Region. To end that role as advisors and Peacekeepers immediately after talking to another of Trump’s murderous Strongman Idols is unforgivable. He knew exactly what was going to happen and his threats of Sanctions that haven’t worked on anybody yet are meaningless.

Obadiah Plainsmen

In 2018 the US was the largest oil producing country. But OPEC still controls the pricing. Dare to explain why?


here is a good analysis about OPEC and USA oil pricing and strategy.

The devil is always in the details:


And another:


No. I just doubt that it is true.


OPEC countries oil costs are much lower than the US, so they can set the lowest price.


Francesca_easa, help me understand your reasoning...

Oil and coal are global commodities that are shipped all over the world. Thus, global supply and demand determines prices for these energy sources. Events around the world can affect our prices at home for oil-based energy such as gasoline and heating oil. If all hell broke loose in the Middle East it would effect negatively your energy expenditure. Are you old enough to remember the long gas lines during the Carter Administration? Or maybe you didn’t understand why.

If you do understand, are you suggesting a socialist set up where the US government controls consumption of oil, locally and worldwide distribution? Isn’t that’s what got Venezuela in trouble?


I don't know how you derived the effect of Middle East's supply of oil on our economy from my comment. We should start looking to alternative energy sources anyway. We support alot of the world already. It is really disturbing that folks here think that sacrificing our countrymen to help a region that has continued to perpetuate its dismal wars is what is really okay. No, it is not.


So your answer is, “you didn’t understand why”.


The question is "Does the USA keep promises?"


Interesting take Gary. What official promises were made, and then reneged? We must stop getting involved in others civil wars. Does it ever change anything, other than our soldiers lives? No.


We should help ourselves and help others. it is not impossible to do both and it is not one or the other. But this is about a victory being tossed away. It is not about more war. This is peace given up.


All Trump had to do about leaving 1000 U.S. Troops in Syria as an American presence to keep the PEACE was **””NOTHING””**. How can you screw that up??? A Malignant Narcissistic “Great in his Unmatched Wisdom” “Only I can do IT” “I know more than the Generals” ego-Maniac ruthless murdering Dictator Worshiper can screw it up and Trump has done it Big Time this time. Every Kurd man woman and child dead and dying right now are victims of Donald J. Trumps incompetence and ignorance. Happy now RRR(RadicalRightRepublicans)???


Do you even know what a Kurd is?


PD994, how many Kurds have died since last week?


Erdoğan “intends to forcibly resettle the three million displaced Syrian Arabs, who have taken refuge in Turkey, in this part of Eastern Syria. This means driving out the Kurdish population and replacing it with an Arab population. It has a name: ethnic cleansing”. The Kurdish troops wear American flags on their uniforms. Shameful.

Obadiah Plainsmen

The US is still supplying the Kurds with all the weaponry they need. The question nobody is asking is "what if" Trump left the 700-1k troops and Turkey forces kills a couple of American soldiers? Turkey is a NATO Ally would the KIA be classified as friendly fire?


Oh, that’s the reason Trump ran-away by withdrawing the 250 special forces from Eastern Syria, abandoning the Kurds? He chump down to Erdoğan. Precious.


Now the Kurds are seeking help from Russia. I guess that means Putin isn’t as frighten of Erdoğan as Trump. Right?


But Putin is Trump's friend, so it is okay, aw! God help us all!


We spent lives and money in building a coalition in the Middle East and it worked. We even managed to get the Kurds to participate in winning over ISIS and that was a grand success when few thought it could be done. Now in fear of "endless wars" and out of a flawed view of history, we have tossed it all away. For what? Real estate deals in Turkey? More towers to own? Or just to keep evidence from going public? I do not know. But I do hate betraying our allies this way. They believed in our promises. Now they die.




You got it right! Very Sad!


about time we get out, after all we are only there because of the oil. Who can even keep up with who is who. They turn to the U.S. for help then they turn on us. These people have been at it for 1000 years, they don't know anything else. Let them have at it and lets get America the hell out of it. We got our own oil now.


Simplistic view of the issue bro


If we had to rely on "our own oil" as you phrase it, we would have to make do on about 5 gallons a week per household.


Not true, fool. You need to educate yourself on the USA's oil and gas industry.

Here is a good start:


Reader1954, you do know we just deployed 3000 troops to protect the Saudi Arabia oil fields. That’s more troops than we had in Syria. That adds up to more American forces in the Middle East then we had a week ago. Am I wrong?


AW -[thumbup][thumbup]

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