There has been much discussion recently about the need for the President to be able to communicate directly and privately with the heads of state of foreign governments. The reason generally given is to allow the President develop personal relationships and possibly prevent catastrophic conflicts. It is the ultimate power.

However, the downside of such direct contact is that a President can be persuaded to take unilateral decisions that are beneficial to our adversaries if the unintended consequences not carefully thought through. This seems to be the case on Sunday when President Trump in a telephone call with Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, committed to draw down the American forces new serving in the autonomous Kurdish enclave in Northern Syria.

The absence of US troops in the buffer zone along the Turkish border opens the way for Turkey to use its vastly superior military power to take control of this area. Presumably the area will be eventually taken over by the Al-Assad regime and in this process the residents would be subjected to same devastation as he has inflicted his opponents, resulting in some half-million deaths and two million refugees.

The Kurds have been essential in the fight against Isis, and will continue to fight for their own independence. The presence of American and allied forces in the area have been the principal deterrent against Turkish and Al-Assad’s conquering of this last area. We hope that President Trump will again recast his decision to prevent this catastrophe from occurring. The betrayal of the trust built over the past decade could have lasting adverse effects.

Byron K. Varme
Executive Director

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