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Has there ever been a foreign policy move that has produced more crises more quickly? Regardless of whether the cease-fire holds — the Turks describe it as a pause in their operations — President Trump has allowed Turkey to unleash its forces on Syria, resulting in the abandonment of the Syrian Kurds and the empowerment of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Trump was acceding to Turkey’s wishes, but now he has also poisoned the United States’ relations with that country. He has hit Ankara with sanctions and threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy. The U.S. military had to bomb its own weapons stockpiles to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands and airlift troops as the forces of Turkey — a NATO ally — moved in.
Washington’s allies in the region have been dumbfounded by the move; Republicans in Washington, normally slavishly supportive of the president, have denounced it harshly; and U.S. soldiers have expressed deep revulsion at the betrayal of the Kurds. On Oct. 9, Trump urged his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, not to invade Syria, in a letter so poorly written that many initially thought it was a parody. Erdogan launched the operation anyway.