/Opinion | Republicans bemoaning the fate of the Kurds have no one to blame but themselves

Opinion | Republicans bemoaning the fate of the Kurds have no one to blame but themselves

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), flanked by Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.) and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) at the Capitol on Sept. 25. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) put out a written statement on Wednesday declaring, “On Monday, I said that President Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds, our major ally in the fight against ISIS, was terribly unwise. Today, we are seeing the consequences of that terrible decision. If the reports of Turkish strikes in Syria are accurate, I fear our allies the Kurds could be slaughtered.”

Republican hawks Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) are fit to be tied, as Axios reports. Graham declared, “Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration. This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS. Will lead effort in Congress to make Erdogan pay a heavy price. I urge President Trump to change course while there is still time by going back to the safe zone concept that was working.”

Cheney lashed out: “News from Syria is sickening. Turkish troops preparing to invade Syria from the north, Russian-backed forces from the south, ISIS fighters attacking Raqqa. Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS.” Impossible to understand? Hardly, Rep. Cheney.

One is reminded of Casablanca and Captain Renault’s famous line, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Cheney and Graham know full well from the Trump campaign and more than 2½ years of Trump’s presidency that he has a sweet spot for dictators, especially Russian President Vladimir Putin and his friends. They know Trump has sided with Putin over the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies as to whether Russia interfered with our election. They and all the other Republicans now decrying the slaughter of the Kurds enabled by Trump know he has invited foreign powers to interfere with our election.

In sum, Trump betrays American democracy at the drop of a hat. He continually praises, sides with and provides brutal dictators (e.g., North Korea’s Kim Jong Un) with a treasure chest of good PR. He savages our allies, denigrates NATO and has suggested extorting allies to keep our troops forward-positioned in their country. What did they expect Trump would do to the Kurds?

Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Graham as well as House Republican hawks have not only defended but also now support for reelection a president who has defended and promoted the interests of American foes (e.g., Russia, North Korea) time and again. Without them, Trump could not fend off impeachment; without them, he would not have clear-sailing to a second term in which even more allies could be betrayed.

Partisan tribalism and repudiation of reality have landed hawkish Republicans precisely where Trump critics predicted: on the side of a know-nothing president whose foreign policy is worse, by leaps and bounds, than President Barack Obama’s, whom these same Republicans decried as weak and lacking belief in American exceptionalism. These Republicans have betrayed their own oaths of office, which require them to enforce checks on the executive branch and defend Congress’s constitutional powers (e.g., the power to appropriate or decline to appropriate money for the wall, the power to conduct robust impeachment hearings), just as Trump has. In doing so, they have lost the moral high ground and any leverage to affect Trump’s actions. Giving him a pass on whatever nonsensical statements come out of his mouth has empowered him to do worse things with each passing year.

Here is a suggestion for the Cheneys, the Grahams and the rest: Withdraw support for Trump’s reelection. Hold him accountable for betraying American democracy. Then they’ll have the moral authority to condemn the massacre of the Kurds. Right now they are enablers of the Kurdish genocide about to unfold.

Read more:

David Ignatius: Trump has opened the door for an Islamic State resurgence in Syria

Josh Rogin: How Trump just destroyed his own Syria strategy

Ilham Ahmed: We fought ISIS side by side with the Americans. Now they’re leaving us to our fate.

Max Boot: Why Republicans care so much about the Kurds — and so little about the Constitution

Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman: Democrats will scrutinize Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds