Friday, October 18, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said the Kurds he abandoned were "happy" with Turkey's "ultimate solution" for them.

In tweets and appearances before reporters today, Trump told a number of lies about the Turkey-Syria debacle.

Throughout the day, Trump referred repeatedly to a "ceasefire" between invading Turkish forces and fleeing Kurdish troops and civilians. But Turkey has agreed to no such thing—the Turkish government specifically contradicted Vice-President Mike Pence's use of the term yesterday—and continued shelling border towns in Syria.

Trump later called the attacks on the civilian population, which resulted in casualties, "minor."  This was in the same tweet where he spoke of Turkey's "ultimate solution" for its Kurdish problem, in a chilling but hopefully accidental echo of Nazi Germany's "final solution" for European Jews. (Turkey's government has long been hostile to its minority Kurdish population, and the U.S. military—which Trump didn't consult before his sudden decision to greenlight Turkey's invasion—believes it will commit acts of genocide against the Kurds.)

Trump then claimed that the "U.S. has saved the oil." He repeated the theme at a press availability later in the day, saying, "We’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East — the oil that we’re talking about, the oil that everybody was worried about. The U.S. has control of that.”

Trump refused to explain what he was talking about, and nobody else was able to figure it out. He also claimed that ISIS fighters were "double secured" by both Turkey and the Kurds. This is even more baffling: ISIS detainees have already escaped from the prisons that had been guarded by the Kurdish SDF, until they were forced to flee by the invading Turkish force. 

In perhaps the most astonishing lie of the day, Trump said that Syrian Kurds were "very happy about the way things are going." The Kurdish military leader in the region told Trump that he was "leaving us to be slaughtered."

More than 10,000 Syrian Kurds have died fighting on behalf of the United States against the Islamic State in Syria.

Trump is no stranger to casual lies, having told more than 13,000 of them since taking office, by one count. In front of friendly rally crowds, he tends to make a game of it, making false claims and then mocking what critics will say in response. But rarely has he told such obvious lies in the face of furious opposition from Republicans, military servicemembers, and evangelical Christians.

Why should I care about this?

  • Even by Trump's standards, these are obvious and outrageous lies.
  • A president who won't or can't explain himself even when his closest allies are begging him to change course is either incompetent or corrupt.