Later, Trump Tweets taking credit for the outcome of a meeting in which he was not involved. And as to Trump’s claim “Kurds are safe”, both Russia and Turkey followed up that meeting between their countries’ leaders today by further threatening the Kurds.
But there’s no doubt Russia now outranks the U.S. in terms of influence in the Mideast. By far.
All it took was that little meeting today between Turkey’s President Erdogan and Russia’s President Putin about how to proceed in Syria without the U.S. And Russia suddenly finds itself rehabilitated in the region to a point not seen since the Soviet Union foolishly went to war in Afghanistan back in 1979. In no small part thanks to Trump.
As we mentioned last week, a blessing from Russia would be needed before Turkey could fully engage its aspirations in Syria. Meaning the U.S. brokered ceasefire was almost meaningless, since Turkey had moved hard and fast once Trump had cleared U.S. troops out of the way. A move Trump had telegraphed almost a year ago. And Turkey planned and waited and was ready. But that whole gamble would’ve been a no-go without an OK today from Russia.
One interesting side note: if you scan Turkey’s newspaper coverage (many of them are government affiliated), you’ll find the Erdogan-Putin agreement to conduct joint-border patrols and clear out Kurdish rebels is almost secondary to assessing how much media attention the meeting got in Russia. The fact that Putin and Russian media took Erdogan dead seriously is something Turkey feels really good about.
So what’s wrong with all that? As Trump says, Syria’s 7,000 miles away from the U.S.; it’s on Turkey’s doorstep and virtually on Russia’s.
Here’s what’s wrong with that:
- Russia is allied with the bad guys. Remember when Trump fired missiles at Syria because he was reportedly so disturbed at video showing Syria’s leader Assad using chemical weapons against his own people — including children — in that country’s Civil War? That’s who Russia’s backing still.
- This weakens NATO. That’s a huge objective for Russia, and this is a huge victory for them in that regard. Turkey is a member of NATO. Although Turkey recently also bought a missile defense system from Russia instead of the U.S. (Which kind of didn’t make sense at the time: since ostensibly the system would be used to defend against Russian missiles. But now, all of a sudden, it does.) Trump’s also frequently made it clear he doesn’t love NATO. Points for Putin all around.
- This has huge implications in terms of nuclear weapons. Turkey’s made it very clear it wants them, and it especially won’t take no for an answer if Iran starts building nuclear weapons of its own. (That’s maybe being facilitated by Trump pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, which would’ve prohibited any such moves on Iran’s part for at least 10 years.) NATO’s made it very clear it doesn’t want Turkey to have nukes. But the U.S. has long kept small nuclear weapons of its own in Turkey. So now what if Russia’s OK with Turkey having some of its own too?
We really don’t think Trump sees much value in having much of a foreign policy of any kind. Except related to tariffs and trade, and a few other things. None of them having to do with promoting Democracy or human rights or freedom or standing by people who stood with America. (In fact, just wait and watch Trump come up with a reason to sell F-35 fighter jets to Turkey anyway; he wants the money.)
We truly believe Trump truly believes that you put up a wall, keep all foreigners out (except those with a lot of money), and you’re fine and you’re done.