Trump On Syrian Kurds: They Didn’t Help Us At Normandy

Trump makes a particularly dumb comment about our alliance with Syrian Kurds.

Asked about the fate of Kurdish fighters and civilians in the wake of news of the beginning of the Turkish offensive in northern Syria, President Trump dismissed those concerns with what may be the most ignorant statement he’s made in quite some time:

President Trump on Wednesday criticized the Kurds, saying they didn’t help the United States during World War II and that they were only fighting for their land in Syria during the battle against ISIS.

“The Kurds are fighting for their land,” Trump told reporters at the White House during an event in the Roosevelt Room.

“And as somebody wrote in a very, very powerful article today, they didn’t help us in the second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy as an example. They mentioned names of different battles. But they’re there to help us with their land and that’s a different thing.”

Trump did not specify to which article he was referring, but some on Twitter pointed to an article written in TownHall by conservative Kurt Schlichter that included a reference to the Kurds and Normandy. 

The remarks from Trump at the White House came as Turkey launched an offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish forces that had been allied with the United States in the fight on terror.

(…)

Trump insisted the U.S. has spent “tremendous amounts of money” helping the Kurds purchase ammunition and weapons.

“With all of that being said, we liked the Kurds,” Trump told reporters.

“When you say they’re fighting for us, yes, but they’re fighting for their land,” Trump added.

Here’s the video:

These comments did get some derisive pushback from Republicans who have already spoken up against the President’s decision to remove troops from northern Syria. This isn’t surprising, because the comment, which the President appears to have gotten from a column at the conservative web site Townhall, is really quite idiotic. Even leaving aside the dumb throwaway line that the Kurds didn’t fight with us in Normandy seventy-five years ago, the general observation that the Kurds were basically fighting to protect their own land and that they ended up being our allies because our interests coincided is equally idiotic. It is these kinds of intersecting, although not identical, interests on which alliances of often based, especially in wartime. It was the main reason that the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States were allies in World War II notwithstanding the fact despite the fact that our goals and interests were not exactly identical.

Additionally, this kind of dismissive comment from the President goes directly to the point I’ve made previously about the dangers that this move on his part poses to future American interests. Being this dismissive to the interests of an ally who has actually shed blood assisting the United States in the war against ISIS sends exactly the wrong message to potential future allies, one that we’ll likely to come to regret in the future.

Update: As both The New York Times and The Washington Post note, Kurdish fighters did contribute to the fight against the Nazis in World War II when their territory was largely under the control of the British Empire.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, National Security, Syria, Turkey
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    I’m sure I’ve heard the name Kurt schlichter before but I was drawing a blank on it so I googled it and without needing to read anything he’s written Google tells me that people who search for him also search for Hugh Hewitt Jack Posobiec Mike Cernovich Ben Shapiro and Donald Trump Jr, so that tells me I can quit reading.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    trump didn’t help us in Vietnam.

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  3. Scott says:

    For some nefarious reason, the Trump family contribution to WWII has been erased from history.

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  4. grumpy realist says:

    And Rod Dreher over at TAC is still dithering on the edge about how important it is to support Trump because of “pro-life judges” and “Trump’s support of religious freedom.”

    I don’t want anyone ever again to try to tell me that Dreher has any moral integrity whatsoever.

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  5. Teve says:
  6. CSK says:

    @Teve: An interesting thing about Schlicter is that before Trump won the nomination, he was rabidly anti-Trump. Once Trump had the nomination locked, Schlicter did a 180 and became maniacally pro-Trump.

  7. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist: I’ve read Rod Dreher for many years (back in the BeliefNet days) because he was an interesting voice. Not so much anymore. Pretty much has gone off the deep end. Sees the Apocalypse everywhere.

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  8. Teve says:

    @CSK: These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others. 🙂

  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Who does this benefit? Ah…Russia. Now it makes sense.

  10. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist: Things seem to be changing. Dreher has an article at AC this morning entitled “Trump Fatigue,” concluding, pretty much, with the line “I’m worn out with this guy.”

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: As my old man always said, “Why would you put a shitty cover on a good book?”

  12. Slugger says:

    Guys, the Normandy comment is outrageously dumb. That’s all. Nothing more can be said.

  13. Teve says:

    Dean Baker Retweeted
    Joshua Holland
    @JoshuaHol
    ·
    44m
    On the assumption that he’s wrong about everything I looked this up and it turns out that George Washington used Kurdish troops to hold the airports against the British.

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  14. KM says:

    @Slugger:
    Disagree. Over on the Discourse thread, I noted that on-the-fence voters were particularly frustrating because having to explain why choosing between arsenic and a badly burned grilled cheese sandwich that’s been on the floor for ten minutes is a no-brainer and yet they are still on the fence. Trump just left these people to be massacred, ISIS to re-surge and possible kill Westerners in a new terrorist attack and the rationale we get is….. this gibberish. And yet they are still “meh, I’m iffy about X and Trump’s still an option for me.”

    He abandoned allies to die.
    He’s ruined any chance people will take us seriously when we offer protection or aid.
    He’s set us up for more attacks and military interventions.
    He’s making an unstable region even worst against all logic on a whim.
    And his excuse is insane nonsense at best, deliberately lies to justify genocide at worst.

    If all someone takes away from “Trump said something dumb again”, we’ve got bigger problems then him. Any potential voter listening to that and still thinking of voting for him is sneering at the burned grilled cheese and reaching for the arsenic chaser. This should be the moment the GOP realizes it’s got zero control over him since FOX and his followers were open in pointing out they didn’t like this move. They can normally get him to do their bidding but couldn’t do it this time. This should be the moment they realize hey, maybe drinking the arsenic’s not that hot an idea… but they won’t. Because this is just another Dumb Thing Trump Sez and we move on. *sigh*

  15. Hal_10000 says:

    There is no bottom to Trump’s vileness.

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  16. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: But you notice, Dreher still hasn’t come off the fence. He’s wringing his hands and saying oh deary deary me. He is still willing to put up with Trump’s antics because Trump’s putting “religious freedom” judges on SCOTUS is more important than anything that Trump has done up to now. The fact that Trump has removed U.S. protection from the Kurds resulting in the present bombing, that Trump has carried out arguably impeachable activities, that Trump is an adulterer and liar–none of that is enough for Dreher to say “ENOUGH! I will NOT put up with this!”

    He’s still toying with voting for Trump in the next election. Because of Dreher’s precious “religious freedom.”

    I wonder what would be enough for Dreher to reject Trump? Because at this moment, damifino.

  17. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist: I don’t think that Dreher has rejected Trump. I think he may be moving in that direction.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    FYI the Town Hall link returns a 404 error. But I was curious enough to Google it and the Schlichter story is up at Town Hall. Town Hall is new to me, but it seems to be a standard issue RWNJ site. One of seemingly thousands. I think the real lesson to be taken from this story is the pervasiveness of the Conservative Echo Chamber and it’s complete disconnect from reality. Believing this crap should be sufficient grounds for impeachment.

    (Trying to be precise, it’s not exactly lying. As far as I know there really were no Kurds in Normandy. But what the flock does that have to do with anything? It’s not so much that FOX et al lie, as that their choice of stories and their spin is calculated to mislead.)

    And at least half of national level Republican politicians, and staff, marinade themselves in this nonsense.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Which leads back to my original complaint–for someone who is as huffy about morality and the collapse of Western Civilization as Rod Dreher claims he is, he’s certainly far too willing to put up with pretty awful behavior from our POTUS in exchange for Trump’s pushing “pro-life” candidates on to SCOTUS.

    As said, we know exactly what Dreher’s price is. Even while he whines about the collapse of morality. To which I would say: clean your own stable first.

  20. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist: That’s the bargain he’s made. Even Trump is better than a Democrat.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist: Dreher has the morals of a scorpion.

  22. steve says:

    Dreher and the religious conservatives have totally immersed themselves in politics, yet when they get criticized they fall back on their religion claiming they are being attacked because of their faith. Nope, they are being treated just like any other political group, they just want special privileging. Pointing this out got me banned from his site.

    Steve

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  23. Moosebreath says:

    @grumpy realist:

    “Which leads back to my original complaint–for someone who is as huffy about morality and the collapse of Western Civilization as Rod Dreher claims he is, he’s certainly far too willing to put up with pretty awful behavior from our POTUS in exchange for Trump’s pushing “pro-life” candidates on to SCOTUS.”

    The problem is that Dreher does not define Western Civilization as including the Enlightenment. He thinks that we have been going off the rails for a couple of centuries, and accelerated about 50 years ago, with Vatican II and the Sexual Revolution. So Trump’s anti-democratic and racist impulses are not necessarily problems for him.

  24. Kathy says:

    @Moosebreath:

    If Western Civilization, according to this guy, does not include the Enlightenment, then it doesn’t include America, as it was one of the most notable products of the enlightenment (another was the Industrial Revolution).

    I wonder how he feels about that.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: Oh, Dreher has been in a tizzy about William of Ockham and Nominalism ever since he read a book on history. As far as he’s concerned, the Western World started going down the chute then and has never stopped.

    Dreher really, really wants to be able to totally ignore Embarrassing Facts From Reality Which Show Ideal Categories Don’t Exist. He wants to live in a universe where Platonic Ideals hold sway and any data which shows they don’t can just be dumped in the garbage. (Goodbye scientific method.) And he doesn’t have the brains to understand that in such a case he’d be living in a world where evidence-based medicine wouldn’t exist, his children would have died from something like typhoid or smallpox, and his own lifespan would have been….not long.

  26. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist: on the plus side without the enlightenment we wouldn’t have the internet and we’d never have to hear about rod fucking dreher. 😀

  27. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    There remains much of value in ancient philosophies, and even Plato had his good days, but metaphysics is a subject best left buried with the dead past. After all, the early attempts to explain or make sense of the physical world and life, were tainted by the massive ignorance on these subjects.

    Oh, there were some real achievements among the ancients in the fields of science. Like measuring the Earth’s circumference (roughly), a great deal of math and astronomy, too. But most human progress came from artisans, farmers, and engineers who did observe the world, or the parts of it they were concerned with, and whose ideas had real consequences for them. They were the ones who devised new metal alloys, farming techniques, and who built dams and monuments and streets and cities and aqueducts.

  28. sam says:

    “metaphysics is a subject best left buried with the dead past”

    Oh, I don’t know. All the discussions I’ve heard and read on quantum entanglement end up stumbling around in some kind of monism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  29. DrDaveT says:

    @KM:

    on-the-fence voters were particularly frustrating

    I have decided that, at this point, “on the fence” generally translates as “I am a long-time single-issue voter on [abortion, taxes, Christian dominance, whatever] and I’ll probably hold my nose and continue that pattern”. See Rod Dreher discussion elsethread.

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @sam:

    All the discussions I’ve heard and read on quantum entanglement end up stumbling around in some kind of monism.

    Except that the conclusion is coming out that, after that 400-year wrong turn down materialism, it turns out that if there really is only one kind of stuff it has to be mind…

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  31. As it turns out, the Kurds did help in the fight against the Nazis, albeit not so much in Europe. I’ve posted two links about this in an update to the post.

  32. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “There is no bottom to Trump’s vileness.”

    I don’t think there’s a lot in this world that you and I will agree on, but I would happily drink to this with you.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I kind of expected this.

  34. Kathy says:

    @sam:

    Einstein possibly went to his grave knowing there were hidden variable in quantum-level interactions, which would clear everything up once they were found. This looks very unlikely now, and has looked unlikely for a long time.

    I think we’re far from understanding quantum mechanics. We have a large descriptive knowledge of particles and their behavior, but not the reason why they behave that way. We may gain the necessary knowledge and insight someday, or we may find it impossible to do so.

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08:

    Town Hall is new to me, but it seems to be a standard issue RWNJ site.

    I could be wrong, but if I recall correctly, Town Hall is the original RWNJ site.

  36. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: Wasn’t that what Bell’s theorem was all about? Showing the lack of (at least) local hidden variables?

    But yah, QM is weird. I think it was Mermin (of Ashcroft & Mermin fame) who said “anyone who thinks he understands QM should be good and worried.”

  37. gVOR08 says:

    Both links in the update go to the WAPO story. By engaging with this silliness the supposedly liberal MSM lend it legitimacy, even when rebutting it.

    Some Kurds fought with the Russians against the Axis. Now the Russians are an Orthodox bulwark, protecting Western Civilization from the Caliphate, a source of lucrative Facebook political ads, and home to many good potential hotel tower sites. Then they were godless commies. So is it good or bad the Kurds fought alongside the Russians? I’m so confused.

  38. al Ameda says:

    Well of course the Kurds weren’t at Normandy.
    At that time they were deployed to Hawaii where they were being mobilized to help us fight the Germans (who bombed Pearl Harbor) and Japanese in the Pacific Theater.

  39. de stijl says:

    I’m half convinced that Dreher is going to go full red-pill. He is trending in that direction.

    Nevertheless, he has demonstrated that he is willing to sell his soul for temporary political benefit.

    As I understand Christianity, that would be a dire sin.