“…Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful. … (Khalil Gibran)
I cannot let go of the weight on my heart as I, and many others, experience the depth of our sorrow when politics turns dark. In a phone call 10 days ago (at the time of this writing), President Trump gave the green light to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to invade northern Syria, and in the process, to engage in what Armenians have experienced and known for over 100 years, an ethnic cleansing.
Nothing new here. It is history that repeats itself with tyrants. And unfortunately, the grim and sobering reality of our current global crises of leaders among nations is frightening. Todays’ foxlike statesmen have “great” relationships with one another, weaving webs that bond them together over “nice” conversations. “Nice” conversations among them are merely an exchange of needs that serve narcissistic egos. And they will forsake anyone or a people who no longer serves their need. President Trump, whose appeal is founded on a backdrop of personal achievement, constant boasting of being unrivaled and a bully like toughness, will, like all the other tyrants with whom he has a “good” relationship and “nice” conversations, abandon anyone who no longer serves his needs. (Check the number of White House Staff, Cabinet Members, administrators on whom he has turned his back after letting go or resigning.) He has no empathy, no sympathy, no guilt nor shame. I pity the nation.
A year ago, President Trump was praising the Kurds as “great” allies, vowing to protect them. “They fought with us. They died with us,” Trump said. “We have not forgotten.” Predominantly Kurdish forces in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) played a central role in aiding the United States in fighting the Islamic State. The US armed them, used them, praised them, and just last week, the President dismissed the Kurds with the justification, “They didn’t help us in the Second World War; they didn’t help us with Normandy.” And the President of this nation did not call for the Turkish tyrant to observe the rule of law, or Western standards of justice. Instead, Trump distanced himself saying, “Turkey and the Kurds are fighting ‘over land that has nothing to do with us.’” The results have been swift and brutal with the displacement of more than 275,000 people (of whom 70,000 are children, according to SDF), executions of journalists, female politician, war crimes, and the escape of hundreds of Islamic State (ISIS) prisoners. If Islamic State fighters manage to get free, “they’re going to be escaping to Europe,” Trump said last week. As if Europe’s problems won’t affect the United States! I pity the nation.
This becomes a complicated geopolitical battleground where many international and regional players, with varying interests and means, clash violently. Sadly, ordinary civilians will pay the ultimate price. We see this same scenario being played out over and over again. Go back 104 years to the Genocide of Armenians by Turkey; back 75 years to the Holocaust; back 45 years to the Cambodian genocide; 25 years to Rwandan genocide; 15 years and counting to the Darfur genocide; 8 years and counting to the Saudi led Yemeni genocide; 3 years and ongoing to the Rohingya (Myanmar) genocide, and beyond. For tyrants, other human beings don’t have intrinsic dignity or value. Human worth is determined in terms of what benefits them in their personal “great” relationships and ego boosting ‘mine is bigger than yours’ attitude. By now, this behavior should come as no surprise to anyone. When tyrants lead nations, it becomes the history of the world to interfere solely to suit their political game and agenda.
Where do we go from here? For the Kurds, Arabs, Armenians and Assyrians living near and around the northern zone of Syria, the consequences of America’s policy change will only get worse. Meanwhile we have played Syria into the hands of Russia. Our “ally”, Saudi Arabia, is ready and waiting for the green light backing of the US to pounce on Iran who holds the Hezbollah proxy. The proxies of Russia, the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are now spinning an even bigger web, in which millions of refugees continue to face an unknown future. One thing is certain: the biggest beneficiary of this will be ISIS, and with a possibility of resurgence we will all be under threat. Any ensuing conflict will be fought on the battlefield of civilian bodies.
I pity the nations.