(Denver, Colorado) — The Turkish offensive into northern Syria is a dangerous military development. The emerging Russian-Iranian-Turkish alliance is a dangerous geopolitical development. And President Trump’s willingness to so easily abandon America’s Kurdish allies is a dangerous diplomatic development that could have serious domestic political repercussions if Trump and his team are not more careful.
I’m glad that VP Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo are heading to the region to try to persuade Turkish President Erdogan to call off the offensive. And Trump is now threatening Turkey with sanctions and saying he will stand with the Kurds. But it’s far from certain this genie can be put back in its bottle. It may prove too little too late.
Recip Erdogan is not a serious, trustworthy ally. He’s a monster who wants to rebuild the Ottoman Empire. He us an Islamist who supports Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood terror movements. A few years ago, he arrested upwards of 200,000 Turks in a brazen crackdown on his political enemies. He’s allowed thousands of ISIS terrorists to criss-cross his territory unchecked. Now, his forces are killing Kurds, creating a new refugee crisis, and further destabilizing the disaster in Syria that was created by Bashar Assad, Vladimir Putin and the Iranians. I struggle to understand how Erdogan is still a member of NATO.
In his initial phone call with Erdogan before the invasion, President Trump should have made it crystal clear that he would not tolerate a Turkish attack on the Kurds. Unfortunately, Trump gave Erdogan every impression it wouldn’t be a problem, even ordering all US military forces in the area to leave.
A few days ago, I spoke with Amir Tibon, an Israeli reporter for Haaretz, who was stunned that various Evangelical leaders, myself included, were speaking out so strongly on the subject. I thought you might be interested in reading the full article, as well as excerpts.
TRUMP DIDN’T THINK HE COULD EVER LOSE THE EVANGELICAL VOTE — BUT THEN HE ABANDONED THE KURDS
For the first time since entering the White House, Donald Trump has encountered significant criticism from evangelical leaders. Does the president have reason to worry about his own ‘base’?
- Something unusual happened in American politics this week: President Donald Trump was criticized by leading figures in the evangelical community. One after another, prominent pastors and activists denounced his decision to remove U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and to stand aside as Turkey attacked Kurdish cities in the region. One pastor called the Turkish attack on the Kurds “a disgrace”; another warned Trump he could be “losing the mandate of heaven” over the decision.
- It was the first time since Trump entered the White House in 2017 that he had to endure such a strong level of criticism from evangelical leaders. They had stood by him throughout the worst scandals of his presidency…..
- In the 2016 election, white evangelicals cast approximately a quarter of all ballots in the presidential race, with 80 percent of them voting for Trump — which played a key role in his victory over Hillary Clinton.
- Franklin Graham…tweeted on the subject…he directly addressed Trump and asked him to “reconsider” the decision….
- Pat Robertson, an influential televangelist, warned on air that “the president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen.” Both men are extremely loyal Trump supporters, who have so far rejected almost any kind of criticism aimed at the president and fiercely defended him….
- Evangelical support for the Kurds is less well-known than the community’s support for Israel, and the two phenomena are very different from each other in terms of scope, history and levels of commitment. Support for Israel is a top priority for most evangelical voters and stems from religious beliefs about biblical prophecies. Support for the Kurds, meanwhile, is a relatively new phenomenon….
- “Trump is still very popular in the evangelical community, and people remember all he’s done for Israel,” says Joel Rosenberg, an author and activist who has led several high profile evangelical delegations to Arab countries in recent years. Rosenberg tells Haaretz that “Trump is seen by most evangelicals as the most pro-Israel president ever, and as someone who has moved American policy in the Middle East in a good direction.”
- But despite that strong level of support, Rosenberg cautions that Trump and his advisers should definitely be concerned by the reaction to the Syria decision. “It’s hard to make a case that this will have any political consequences for the president in the immediate future,” he says. “But it’s worth noting that this is the first time such criticism has been leveled at him from the evangelical community. I don’t think it would be wise to just ignore it.”….
- According to Rosenberg, “It shouldn’t be a surprise that evangelicals care so much for the Kurdish people. The Kurds are loyal allies who fought bravely to defeat ISIS and have protected Christians in the region. They also have a history of working with Israel.” He says that evangelicals aren’t only pressuring Trump on this issue: Many were also highly critical of how the Obama administration, in his words, “abandoned the Kurds” during their fight against ISIS.
- Rosenberg adds that many evangelicals are concerned about the precedent set by Trump’s decision to turn his back on a Middle East ally. “People are asking themselves, ‘Could he also turn his back on other allies in the future?’ Of course, most people when they ask that question are thinking about Israel.”
Rosenberg tells Haaretz that the evangelical leaders’ calls for Trump to change course were “enormously significant” for another reason. “One criticism that evangelicals have constantly faced in the Trump era is that they’re so close to Trump and are [rarely] willing to contradict him or call him out. There are very good reasons for evangelicals who care about Israel to strongly support President Trump, but you can clearly see, based on the events of this week, that some evangelical leaders are also willing to criticize the president if they disagree with his policies.”….
- Rosenberg, however, warns about taking the evangelical vote for granted. “The risk for President Trump isn’t that evangelicals will turn against him,” he says. “The risk is that a small percentage of the evangelicals who voted for him in 2016 will stay home next November  if they’re not happy about what’s going on in the country and the world.
- “If evangelical turnout goes down by even 1 percent,” he continues, “that could be enough to have an impact in key battleground states. We have more than a year until the election, and no one can say what will happen until then. But it would be good for the president to listen to those who are urging him to reconsider this policy.”