Trump’s bizarre decision on Syria shows his lack of international leadership

Firstly, let’s preface this discussion with a brief analysis of the American president. Throughout history, the revolving door of Republican and Democratic presidents has never failed to cause controversy, possibly never more so than in the case of Donald Trump. Jumping through the psychoanalytic rabbit hole, the man is a walking ‘id’; a man whose decisions are largely based off of whatever his narcissism pulls him towards. Though the American presidential system has never been devoid of antagonism (see Nixon’s vice-president Spiro Agnew, or Andrew Jackson, for example), due to the relatively recent invention of social media, it has not been possible thus far to publicly regurgitate one’s thoughts any time of night and day. Could Trump be abusing this contemporary outlet? Nope- that would be fake news.

One topic he has remained suspiciously quiet about is Erdoğan, Turkey’s current president, who has been glibly described by the New York Times as Trump’s ‘Turkish counterpart’. The two share a long history, stretching back to the establishment of Trump Towers Istanbul, and fraught in places; such as the two-year long incarceration of Andrew Brunson, a US pastor. In response to this human rights violation, Trump- in a tweet- threatened to ruin Turkey’s economy. He repeated this reliable trick on Monday (7th October) whereupon he threatened that if Erdoğan jeopardised the newly freed borders of Syria, he would destroy Turkey’s economy. This is the metaphorical equivalent of angrily flapping an American flag at Erdoğan; certainly, it is possible to raise the tariffs on Turkish imports, which the government has already done. But overall this remains an ineffectual gesture- sent flippantly across from another continent.

The history of the Syria-Turkey border is complex, and could not be explained without the aid of several thousand words and a strong attempt at objectivity. Suffice to say: the stakes are high. Erdoğan has threatened to send 3.6 million Syrian refugees, as if they were crates of bananas, into Europe. Obviously this would be hilariously incendiary to a European community bogged down in the ongoing Brexit situation, but more importantly they are human beings with lives and rights and inherent value that Erdoğan is politically abusing. And who has made it possible for him to do so? His old friend, Trump, and his bizarre decision to remove US forces from the border. And then threaten Turkey with a tweet if they respond to his manoeuvre. Thus far, there hasn’t been a tweet about the artillery strikes, the fires or the incursion, and the subsequent loss of dozens of lives. And this negligence is beyond shocking.

If there is a moral to be taken out of this nightmare currently affecting two populations, it would be that Trump’s policies revolve around the unpredictable. He makes promises, and breaks them just as easily, in this instance to the bafflement of National Security and to the rage of his humanitarian Republican peers. Perhaps my initial statement was wrong; maybe under the bluffs and the blustering tweets, there’s an unsung genius with a superlative aptitude for starting global conflicts.

By Miri Hartley

Senior Writer

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