It would be the real estate deal of a lifetime if it weren't so abominable: the president's purported giveaway of a vast tract of one nation to another hellbent on destroying a steadfast U.S. ally he abandoned.
The president green-lighted Turkey's assault on civilian populations inan area of northeastern Syria settled by the Kurds, who helped the United States defeat ISIS fighters. A week and a half later he sent his vice president and chief diplomat to "negotiate" a five-day ceasefire with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In exchange for Erdogan's promise to suspend his campaign of ethnic cleansing — there were confirmed reports of bombing and gunfire by Turkish-backed troops a day after the deal was announced — ceded to Turkey control of territory held by our former allies. The president also pledged U.S. assistance to help clear out the Kurds with the knowledge that failing to follow through would cost the loss of more Kurdish lives.
But what about all the tough talk about sanctions? The president promised to destroy Turkey's economy if Erdogan attacked the Kurds after U.S. troops were ordered to stand down.
Well, it turns out it was just talk, pure puffery, which Erdogan ignored. Turkey will take control of a 20-mile buffer zone that is about 250 miles inside Syria, and the president will lift U.S. sanctions imposed by his administration and likely block those approved by Congress.
America, on the other hand, gets a bruised reputation around the world for abandoning allies and its role as a stabilizing force in the region and around the world. The vice president said the ceasefire — or what the Turks described as "a pause" — will allow the orderly retreat of U.S. troops.
American troops were bracketed by shelling from militias backed by Turkey, a NATO ally, and were ordered to bomb the bases they were forced to evacuate. The destruction of American outposts were carried out to rid them of a cache of ammunition and render them useless to Turkish, Russian and Syrian forces.
The Kurds, who reportedly sacrificed 11,000 of their own fighting on behalf of the United States, will be left to fend for themselves, sandwiched between those adversaries. The Turks, who consider the Kurds terrorists, and the Syrians, who see them as occupiers, are backed by Russia for different reasons.
Russia has been working for decades to get a foothold in the Middle East, and President Vladimir Putin wasted no time after U.S. troops were ordered to stand down. He visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates immediately after Turkey attacked the Syrian Kurds.
Russia's foothold appears more secure than ever thanks to an American president capitulated to a corrupt politician of a country where the president does business. It's amazing what can happen in two weeks.
D.E. Smoot covers city/county government for the Phoenix.