The Sick Man of Europe
I’ve drafted and thrown out several versions of today’s newsletter. Sometimes rage makes for good prose; sometimes it just makes you sound unhinged. I decided on balance what I was writing would sound unhinged. That’s part of what makes me enraged. Describing reality, these days, makes one sound unhinged.
So I’ll step back a bit. Let’s go to the introduction to my book.
But first, please remember:
THE LAST HAPPY DAYS OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE
In 1987, when I left, the United States was at the height of its confidence, dynamism, and influence. The Berlin Wall was soon to fall. When it did, scholars spoke seriously of the End of History: the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.
That year, I walked and hitchhiked through the Middle East and Europe, working jobs a bit like those Orwell described in Down and Out in Paris in London. I studied French, Italian, and German—only one of which, French, really took. Then I went up to Oxford, first to study European history, then to embark on a program of doctoral research in postwar American foreign policy.
Like most young people, my real subject of study was myself. My grandparents, musicians, had been refugees from the Nazis. Their world had destroyed itself. They crossed every one of Europe’s violated borders in their exodus. Yet the world in which I had grown up was surpassingly benevolent. Somehow I had managed to be born a citizen of a global colossus, one of unimaginable wealth, stability, influence, and prestige. How?
My great-grandparents had escaped to America or perished in the Holocaust. They and their children arrived in the United States poor, profoundly traumatized, and barely able to speak English. They sold Fuller Brushes, or worked in New York’s garment district, and they taught piano lessons.
The next generation—their children, my parents—were fully American and upwardly mobile; the generation that followed, singularly blessed. I was born in sunny Stanford in 1968. I doubt there has been a better place and time, in all of human history, for a baby girl to enter the world, especially a Jewish baby girl.
The United States worked as advertised on the box: It was open, meritocratic, free, full of opportunity, and so eagerly idealistic that when I finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Washington—where a year of tuition cost $687, which could be earned in a summer of selling Time-Life books over the telephone—the local Rotarians sent me to Oxford University on the grounds that international educational exchanges promoted peace. Consider that. At the close of the Cold War, America had a middle-class so robust—one with so much disposable income—that it casually sent students from Seattle to Oxford to promote peace.
Never once, growing up, did I hear an anti-Semitic comment, not even in jest. I don’t think anyone would have understood the joke.
I received a doctorate and became a duly credentialed expert, an official member of the American foreign policy making elite. Most of my fellow graduates quickly began clambering up the greasy pole of power, but I on the other hand took a detour: On an impulse, I took a job in Bangkok at the original Asia Times.
Something caught my attention in Southeast Asia, if only peripherally. I was too young properly to mark its significance. Lee Kwan Yew’s Singapore was at the time barely known to the West. I remember my father’s puzzlement when I said I wanted to write a book about Lee Kwan Yew. Why, he asked? Who cares?
Because, I said, the regime represented something that was not supposed to be true. If this was the End of History—if now we knew that political liberty and prosperity were inextricably intertwined—how had Singapore managed to decoupled them? It struck me as a serious challenge to the End of History thesis. If Americans didn’t see the significance of this, China certainly did. I sensed in Asia a wide confidence that the American Century was over, the Pacific Century was at hand—and the coming century, many seemed certain, would be very orderly, and very authoritarian. I filed this clue in a mental box marked “anomalies.” Then the Asian financial crisis of 1997 threw me off the scent, allowing me to feel serene again in my belief that liberal democracies had it right. We did not suffer such corruption and hence such catastrophes. All was progressing as it ought.
I took a brief detour to work for the United Nations in Laos. Another clue: What the hell was the United Nations doing there? Nothing useful, as far as I could see, and not what it was supposed to be doing. I wrote about this at the time, and filed it in the same general mental basket—one labeled, “This is not quite how the world as I understand it should be working.” But I decided it was a peculiarity of the United Nation, or Laos.
Then I returned for a time to California, where I taught a class in the politics of the Middle East at the University of Santa Clara. My students were hardworking and eager to learn. They were shockingly unprepared, though, for a university-level course in politics. It had not been all that long since I myself had been a university student, so I could see that something had rapidly changed. They hadn’t received the same education I had. That clue went in the same basket, the one marked, “Something’s not quite right.” Not long afterward, some of those students were sent to liberate and govern Iraq, knowing only what I had taught them about the country—which I myself had never seen. Another clue.
But still, the larger picture was dim: I didn’t put all these clues together.
I worked for a time in Washington D.C. I quickly came to loathe the city, and particularly our sclerotic foreign policy bureaucracy. Like all bureaucracies, it is free from the pressures of a market economy, and it attracts the kind of people bureaucracies everywhere attract: slow-moving time-servers who fill out forms, shuffle papers, and count the years until retirement. The apparatus was visibly riven by grudges and rivalries among its various internal organs. But unlike other government bureaucracies, our foreign policy bureaucracy is protected from overmuch scrutiny: Its failures take place where most Americans cannot directly observe them. Places like Laos. Much of it operates, too, in a cloak of secrecy, justified by the appeal to national security.
The significance of this was sufficiently obvious to me to prompt me to get the hell out of Washington—but the idea that this problem might have ramifications far beyond my own professional irritation yet remained a protean thought. Even the attack on the United States on September 11 failed to impress upon me that some kind of deep, systemic rot was hollowing out American governance and culture, and that much like the Soviet Union—whose collapse almost no one predicted—we too were at risk of some kind of crash.
Of course, it should have suggested this. I knew just how such a thing at the terrorist attacks of September 11 could happen, for example; my experiences in Washington had left me with a great deal more insight into the intelligence failures that had permitted that catastrophe to happen than most Americans had. Indeed I wrote about them, angrily, at some length. See, for example, English Only Spoken Here, which I wrote for the Weekly Standard, True Lies, which I wrote for an pan-Arab magazine that quickly went under, Why We Don’t Spy, which I wrote again for the Weekly Standard, as I did Spy vs. Spy.
Still, I was groping, unable to put the puzzle together—and like all Americans, I was blind with both outrage and an instinctive patriotism that left little room for reflection and introspection.
THE GATHERING CLOUD
I returned to Europe and wrote novels about the CIA. The United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. At first, neither war was an obvious catastrophe, and the financial crisis was yet ahead of us.
Still, by this point, something looked wrong. There was a growing divide between the Europe I was living in and the one I was read about in The New York Times, where the Continent was depicted as an endless series of Tuscan farmhouses and Provençal lavender fields one might eagerly visit, rather than a place with political problems Americans might wish to understand. It is almost hard to remember this now, but only fifteen years ago, our foreign policy establishment firmly believed Europe’s problems were not urgent problems. The Continent was on a glide path to peaceful, prosperous, and permanent integration; and if old Europe was sometimes perfidious, we could certainly count on the new one.
I wasn’t so sure. I could see that Europe—old and new—remained haunted by ghosts from the past, perhaps because I too was haunted by those ghosts, memories of Europe passed down like a family inheritance. Clearly, Europe was confronting problems it was ill-prepared to face.
So great was my sense that the popular view of Europe and the reality were discordant that in 2006 I wrote a book about problems that are now very well-known: the rebirth of European nationalism; the excessively idealistic foundations upon which the European integration project was conceived; Russian revanchism, and the inability of many European countries successfully to integrate immigrants. The latter had become a particularly acute problem, given the great civil war in the Islamic world, which was already beginning to spill over on European soil. I wanted to call the book Blackmailed by History, which seemed to me to capture best the sense I had that Europe had been unable to break free of its past. The sales force didn’t like it “We can’t sell books with the word ‘history’ in the title,” they told me. Another clue. I caved. I shouldn’t have, and bitterly regret it. I now realize they hadn’t read the book, and wanted a book that conformed to a narrative they knew sold well: a book about Muslims in Europe burning cars. I was genuinely naive enough to fail to recognize that they hadn’t read the book and wished to slot it into a certain category, one that had I understood it existed, I would have found preposterous.
This is a limitation of expatriate life: It on the one hand gives you the great gift of distance from your country, the ability to see oneself through someone’s else’s eyes. But on the other, it prevents you from seeing what’s changing, in your own country, in large or subtle ways.
That said, it’s the only way to write about other countries, which just can’t be understood unless you live in them. This should simplify your daily reading list. If you’re reading opinions about Turkey written by someone in Washington, just save yourself the time and delete them.
I wrote in that book, above all, about my sense that around me, for no special reason, men and women seemed to find their lives pointless, and for no special reason, they were stricken with despair. This was not a subjective assessment: European suicide rates had been steadily rising since the late 1970s.
I was persuaded this was a species of what Durkheim described as anomic suicide. It struck me as extremely significant. Fifteen years ago, the suicide was in Europe was significantly higher than it was in America. This caused me to conclude, erroneously, that America was in much better shape.
We were not. Our suicide rate swiftly caught up, and if death by opiate overdose is included in the tally, we are now vastly more suicidal than Europe.
Few writers have the ability to recognize that people who admire their writing might be insane, and I’m certainly not one of them. The book was widely appreciated on the American right. I assumed they liked the book because it was a good book. In retrospect, their enthusiasm should have been another clue. I had last closely consulted the map of American politics in the Reagan era, and continued to use that outdated map, failing to grasp how much the political scene in the United States had changed since I left—and particularly the change that had come over the right.
I lacked both the knowledge of my own country and the insight to see that the American right had come to see Europe as a metonym for the American left. These readers did not welcome my book (I now realize) because it was good, nor because it revealed to them a difficult foreign policy challenge to be solved. They were satisfied to think that “Europe,” as they conceived of it, was a failure. This lack of curiosity about Europe as a real place hinted at America’s growing, self-imposed cultural isolation—in part a function of the rapid change in the news industry, in turn the product of a technological revolution. Cultural isolation would soon become political isolationism. I don’t fault myself for missing it that clue. Only someone of a self-effacing temperament incompatible with a career as a writer could have seen it.*
Critics on the left thought the book alarmist. This too, I suspect, was a function of the role “Europe” plays in the American mind. They were wrong, as now they would all surely concede.
But I was the more wrong, because I had misdiagnosed the problem. I concluded the crisis was particular to Europe and its tortured history. In doing so I missed the larger story, the greatest story of the century and perhaps the millennium. It was a Western crisis—a crisis of liberal democracy—and the United States was suffering every bit as acutely as Europe.
A typical expatriate mistake, by the way, and even an expatriate cliché. Expatriates are notorious for idealizing their countries and internalizing them as a kind of protective armor, and they are famously prone to remembering their countries as they left them, not as the countries they’ve become.
The United States’ symptoms were not florid at the time. But the affliction, whatever it was, was something like Dutch elm disease. An outbreak requires both an infectious agent and a weakened forest. The forest of our civic health was weakening, and so when the infectious agent arrived, it spread with astonishing speed.
The book was sold under the title Menace in Europe: Why the Continent’s Crisis is America’s, Too. By this I meant that it was our crisis because historically it had always fallen to us, inevitably, to solve Europe’s crises, and this time, I suspected, would be no different. Inadvertently, the title of my book was right: It was our crisis, too—although not in the way I meant.
Europe, as I argue in my new book—which, in fact, you’re reading right now—has become the central battlefield in a war for the soul of the West. But this is not, as I once pridefully believed, because Europe’s moral health is inherently weaker. It is just a matter of geography. Ours is blessed: Canada to the north, Mexico to the south, fish to the east and west.
Europe is not so lucky.
CRISIS OF FAITH
I fell in love and became engaged to another American journalist who lived, at the time, in Istanbul. Many Western journalists had taken up residence there in the early 2000s, the city was an inexpensive and peaceful haven between Iraq and the Balkans. I moved to Istanbul in 2003. Our engagement ended, but Turkey proved to be the great—and doomed—love affair of my life. I spent a decade there, watching the authoritarian curtain descend, until finally the threat to journalists grew too acute. When I left I was still deeply in love with the country. I still am. I have never fully recovered.
During this decade, I stumbled over the rest of the puzzle pieces. I became sure that illiberal democracy was no fluke. This, not liberal democracy, is the form of governance that has come to dominate the 21st Century, and it is everywhere eroding liberal democracy, stitch by stitch.
The reaction to this in the United States was another puzzle piece: Turkey was (and had always been) an authoritarian country, but political discussion among ordinary men and women seemed less stifled by cliché, more deeply felt, than in America. I saw people ask themselves, for example—as if this was an entirely fresh question, and it was—whether they wanted freedom of expression. The majority answer, unfortunately, was no. The Islamists, at least, were upfront about this. Turkey’s so-called liberals refused to engage deeply with the question, often insisting that they wanted both freedom of expression and laws against “hate speech,” unable to accept that the two were incompatible.
The philosophical debate about the principles upon which Turkish society would henceforth rest was nothing like the abstract discussions American undergraduates are wont to have at two in the morning after reading Richard Rorty and taking a few bong hits. Everything was genuinely up for grabs. Should speech be free? Should the state establish a religion? These were genuinely open questions. The consequences of getting the answers wrong would be massive and bloody.
The decade’s failed attempt to escape authoritarianism forced wide, deep, and sincere thought about what, precisely, freedom means, what the costs and risks of living in a free society might be, and whether Turkey was willing or ready to bear those costs and risks. These risks were real. Once you’ve watched a crowd of Turks call for the extermination of the few Armenians who survived the early 20th century, you will understand why throughout history censorship has struck most people as plain common sense. The American idea that everyone, however lunatic, has been endowed with a natural right to say what he pleases is by no means intuitively obvious.
By contrast, Americans had stopped thinking about these things. Most Americans will instinctively endorse a series of platitudes about liberal democracy. They will say, for example, that they believe in free speech. But most are hard-pressed to explain the legal architecture upon which this notion rests, and few of us realize that our understanding of freedom of speech is extremely recent, dating only from a specific series of Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s and 1970s.
It is no surprise that most Americans are unfamiliar with New York Times Co. v. Sullivan and Brandenburg v. Ohio. But it came as a great surprise to me that Americans who should have been familiar with this story were not. Turkey was awash with American researchers, journalists, academics, and diplomats—the flower of our intellectual class. Repeatedly, I was struck by their inability to explain to their Turkish interlocutors, in plain language, what Americans mean when they talk about freedom of expression. Many had received doctorates from prestigious American universities, but were unfamiliar with the rudiments of American history and constitutional law. This was obvious from what they wrote and said, or failed to write and say. They were unable even to describe our system of governance to Turks, no less make a case for it.
Turkish society was convulsed with debates about liberty, democracy, and what these ideas meant or should mean. Many Turks, young ones especially, would have greatly benefitted from speaking to Americans who could tell them, at least, that freedom of expression really exists in the United States (the proposition was widely believed to be a myth, or obviously impossible); how our idea of freedom of expression had evolved; how it had come to be implemented; and how we had escaped descending into genocide as a result.
In the halls of Congress, or from various editorial pens, we hear from time to time that the United States must fight a “war of ideas” against Islamists. That’s well and good, but if we ourselves don’t understand these ideas, with what do we plan to fight? A MOAB?
Apparently, yes. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and our reliance on military power to the exclusion of other foreign policy tools reflects our collective intellectual stultification.
I was at first perplexed, then outraged, by the United States’ posture and policy toward Turkey. We systematically failed even to explain, no less vigorously defend, such liberal values as freedom of expression, and we overtly lent our support to the most anti-liberal and retrograde forces in the country: a comprehensive failure that extended from our academics to our media to our State and Justice Departments. This had terrible consequences. Many Americans are probably only noticing them now.
The Turkish Republic was founded upon the notion that Western societies were visibly superior to the society of the obsolete and destroyed Ottoman Empire, and thus that Turkey should strive to be Westernized. How painful it was, then, to watch Turks come to loathe the West and view it as, at best, indifferent to the grim and corrupt authoritarianism swallowing their country whole, at worst, an actively anti-democratic force.
What’s worse, they were right. I knew they were, because I was living in the same country and experiencing the same effects of our foreign policy.
Unsurprisingly, I was tormented by cognitive dissonance: The United States in which I grew up would not behave as the United States was behaving. Yet so it was.
It made no sense. Our behavior was neither in our interest nor Turkey’s. Our war in Iraq was premised upon the (correct) belief that the region suffered a fatal democratic deficit, even if we were deluded to believe we could rectify this by toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime. We were spending trillions of dollars and sacrificing hundreds of thousands of lives—Iraqi, ours, and allied—trying in vain to establish a functional democracy in Iraq. What possible interest would we have in simultaneously undermining Turkey’s imperfect—but real—multiparty democracy and constitutional order?
I had spent years studying American foreign policy. I was a duly credentialed expert. I knew full well that our postwar statesmen held it to be an article of faith (often, literally, faith—the assumption came almost to be unquestioned) that promoting American values around the world, from religious freedom to worker’s rights, would create a more secure, stable, and prosperous global arena for the United States to advance its national interests.
Throughout the postwar era, American policymakers held this truth to be self-evident: promoting liberal democracy was not only in our national interest, but identical to our national interest; all of our subsidiary interests would be secured by the spread of this form of governance. Democratic nations, our statesmen intoned—and by “democratic,” they implied liberal democracy; not just a process of voting, but a specific set of rights and freedoms—were more likely to secure the peace, deter aggression, open markets, promote economic development, protect American citizens, uphold human rights, avoid humanitarian crises and the destabilizing refugee flows that ensue from them, protect the global environment, and safeguard human health—these words could once be recited by rote, like the Pledge of Allegiance, by anyone involved in the construction of American foreign policy.
Yet all hope of liberal democracy’s emergence was being systematically destroyed in Turkey, and our reaction to this spanned the repertoire from indifference to active participation in its destruction.
I spent a decade writing about this, trying to make sense of this, remonstrating with American readers, trying to make American policymakers aware that something had gone haywire, something had gone mad, in our policy toward Turkey. Yet the most obvious and economical explanation for our behavior eluded me.
The explanation was this: America had entered a period of precipitous decline, characterized by serial failures of domestic governance, stunningly destructive foreign policy, and a bewildering series of epidemics—obesity, mass shootings, opiate addiction. American life expectancy was falling, just as it had in Russia following the Soviet Union’s collapse. American culture had meanwhile become astonishingly vulgar, violent, stupid, pornographic, and coarse. Americans had come to doubt the principles upon which our country had been founded and to which it was consecrated. It is still not clear to me whether this doubt was the cause or the consequence of these events. Perhaps it was both.
It was not until the nomination—and then the election—of Donald Trump that the obvious at last became undeniable. Americans had lost faith in liberal democracy, much as the Soviets had lost faith in communism.
Of course we were no longer defending liberal democracy abroad. We didn’t even want it at home.
The Age of the New Caesars was upon us.
*Sigmund Freud has now fallen from intellectual grace. As many of my readers know, I believe this premature. There are many reasons to admire Freud’s thought and rely upon his insight. I do not think we can make sense of the modern world without him. If nothing else, we must admire the combination of genius and personal modesty that allowed him to posit the idea of transference. To arrive upon this idea required him to abandon what was surely a vastly more attractive hypothesis: that his patients regularly fell in love with him because he was so pleasing.
In the coming week, I will make the following arguments:
Tomorrow, I will argue that “The West” is a political philosophy, a distinct geographic entity, and the center of the modern global order. Its historically unprecedented success is linked inextricably to liberal democracy, and its global power and prestige rest upon the moral authority and legitimacy this system of governance conveys.
Midweek, I will take readers on a tour of the crisis of liberal democracy in the West. I wish to convey the stunning extent, and the astonishing speed, of the West’s self-destruction.
Finally, I will argue that the Kremlin is deliberately accelerating these trends to serve its geopolitical interests. I will describe the inevitable consequence of the abdication of American hegemony in Europe.
A note: Many have asked me my views about Turkey’s incursion into Syria. What do you imagine I’d say?
Reports from northern Syria suggest absolute panic and chaos.
In his Arabic Twitter feed, Erdoğan wrote, “I would like to kiss the foreheads of the heroes of the Mohammadan Army participating in the Spring of Peace operation.” This has a very particular (and not secular) meaning. In Turkish, when he referred to the army of “Mehmetçiks.” That’s the affectionate Turkish word for Turkish troops, like “Johnnies.” “Kahraman Mehmetçik,” in Turkish, is something like “Our brave GI Joes.” Mehmet is a common Turkish name. Like “Mustapha,” it means “Mohammed.”
But when you translate “Mehmetçik” literally, into Arabic, the meaning changes to one redolent of religious history and conquest. Erdoğan knows this.
In other words, as those who read Arabic have observed, Erdoğan is wrapping himself in the cloak of Mehmed the Conqueror السلطان محمد الفاتح.
Turks—who generally don’t read Arabic—are puzzled to hear this from their Arab interlocutors:
It’s quite likely that the ambiguity and double-meaning are intentional. Erdogan knows both his citizens and this history extremely well.
I have heard that in Turkey, they’re playing the “Victory Sura” of the Koran on busses taking forces to the front. As on the night of the failed coup attempt, the sound of the sela—a special call from the minaret for the defense of the faith—is being broadcast from every mosque in the country.
Kurds are Muslims, too, but the PKK/YPD are, in principle, atheistic devotees of Murray Bookchin, which means they’re infidels. The message is also directed at the Syrian militias fighting with the Turkish forces. They are not Mehmetçiks. The AFP reports the FSA has taken a frontline role:
Having all but disappeared for several years, the Free Syrian Army regained the spotlight in 2016 when it participated alongside Turkish forces in Ankara's first incursion into northern Syria against IS.
But images of FSA fighters posing with mutilated bodies of Kurdish militants and looting stores during a second Turkish operation in Afrin two years later undermined their reputation for moderation.
It’s now been renamed the SNA, and Turkish think-tankers have high hopes for it:
Turkey chose the most professional Syrian moderate forces to participate in this operation. We should also mention that elite Turkish commando forces on the ground will supervise the offensives and react to any excesses,” [said Emre Kursat Kaya, of the EDAM think-tank in Istanbul.]
Only few days ago, it was the safest region in Syria. Five million Syrians live there.
According to the SDF—which, remember, is a combattant, and has reason to exaggerate—the Turkish forces are targeting civilians and children. Here are their latest tweets:
I cannot be sure when this video was shot:
Or this photo taken:
It’s very likely that Trump surprised Turkey by approving the operation. I highly doubt they were expecting him to do something not only starkly at odds with American interests and policy, but categorically in opposition to the US military. This came out of the blue, and so Turkey’s immediate priority, I would guess, is to grab as much as they can before Trump changes his mind.
They moved quickly to attack towns with large Arab populations, which are more apt to be friendly to them, and where they’ll probably set up bases. They are probably hoping Kurds will flee as they did in Turkey’s previous operations in northwestern Syria. They may be very wrong to believe this will happen. There is, already, a report of a ghastly terrorist attacks in Akcakale killing three civilians, including a baby.
A few minutes ago, Turkey claimed it fully captured Ras al Ayn.
Video footage shows civilians fleeing towns with columns of smoke rising in the background and jet trails visible in the sky.
Reports from northern Syria must be taken with some skepticism both because it is in the PYD’s interest to exaggerate the violence and because people subject to violence are apt to find that more significant than those who aren’t.
But their reports do suggest they find it significant. “Turkish planes have been striking from the air. At the same time, their heavy weapons haven’t stopped, they aren’t stopping in firing on the village, and civilians have been both wounded and lost their lives,” said Diyar Ahmed, a local official.
The U.N. Refugee Agency agrees with this portrait, and says tens of thousands of civilians have been forced to flee.
At least five members of ISIS have already broken out of prison. They would seem to have got back to work immediately:
On Friday, a car bomb exploded on a residential street in Qamishli, the de facto capital of the Kurdish-held region — a rare act of Islamic State terrorism in a city that was relatively free of trouble before the Turkish assault began.
Yesterday, the Pentagon said it held Turkey “responsible” for shelling US positions in Kobani:
“US troops in the vicinity of Kobani came under artillery fire from Turkish positions,” said Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt, the Pentagon’s director of press operations. “The explosion occurred within a few hundred meters of a location outside the Security Mechanism zone and in an area known by the Turks to have US forces present.”
At a closed-door emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, European ambassadors tried frantically to pass a statement condemning Turkey’s military operation in Syria. Germany’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Jürgen Schulz, said Turkish actions “threaten to unleash a catastrophe.”
The Security Council’s five European members, plus Estonia, called upon Turkey to cease the military action, issuing this statement:
Renewed armed hostilities in the northeast will further undermine the stability of the whole region, exacerbate civilian suffering and provoke further displacements, which will further increase the number of refugees and IDPs [internally displaced persons] in Syria and in the region.
Macron said Turkey would bear the responsibility if ISIS re-establishes the caliphate in Syria. “Turkey is putting millions of people at humanitarian risk,” he said.
The 15-member UN Security Council was unable, however, to issue a resolution.
The United States and Russia blocked it.
Until Monday, the United States was providing Turkey with intelligence, including surveillance video and information from reconnaissance aircraft. This was meant to be a confidence-building measure, as was our insistence that the SDF dismantle its fortifications. Our entire security apparatus believed we were engaged in a confidence-building effort—until the moment Trump decided otherwise, in a single phone call, warning no one.
Trump’s supporters, according to the Washington Post, approve:
We’ve been there long enough. We’ve done what we’re supposed to. Now, let the people take over and do their thing,” Harold said. “If they can’t? Hey. You had your help. We taught you how to fish, you oughta be able to eat.”
Substack tells me I’m at the word limit, so I’ll leave it at that.
She was a political activist. You can read about her here. May she rest in peace.