I’m an American National Guard Captain. I Didn’t Enlist to Abandon our Kurdish Allies | NYT Opinion


Three months ago, I
was in northern Syria with the Army’s 34th Infantry Division. Weeks ago, our
commander in chief announced he was pulling
our last troops out of the region. “And I say why are we
protecting Syria’s land?” Ever since I haven’t been
able to sleep at night. “Breaking news: Turkey has
launched a military offensive against the Kurds in
northeastern Syria.” “In just a week
hundreds reported dead. Around the world,
condemnation growing.” Our complete
withdrawal from Syria is unstrategic, immoral
and ultimately un-American. Don’t get me wrong, I agree
with President Trump’s statement that we
should end endless wars. I don’t think we should
have been in Iraq. I certainly don’t think
we should be in Yemen. Overall, it is good for us to
get out of the Middle East. But we do that by building
and maintaining alliances, by creating a
peace process that maintains stability
in the region and supporting our allies. That’s how we work
ourselves out of our jobs. I was stationed in July
in Kobani, Syria. In Kobani, there’s a little cafe where
we met with our Kurdish counterparts. We drank tea in
little glasses. I met a Kurdish fighter who
asked me if the U.S. would ever leave Syria. I reassured him:
Of course the U.S. would never leave Syria
and abandon the Kurds. They’re our partners. I was wrong. Last week I read that Kobani
was attacked by Turkey. That’s the same city where
I drank tea with the Kurds and reassured them that
we’d have their back. Now I worry that
those same men may be dead. I can’t believe President Trump let this happen. I joined the Army to
follow in the footsteps of my grandfather
and great-uncle Milt who both served
in World War II. Now the same army that stopped
the Nazis is being sent home to clear the way for an
ethnic cleansing of the Kurds. Today the United
States and Turkey have agreed to a
cease-fire in Syria. But this is too little
too late. “This morning that short-lived deal already
appears to be falling apart.” “Turkish attacks continued
on the border today.” “There are reports
that ISIS prisoners have been escaping …
promising slaughter and quote ‘the return
of the Islamic State.’” President Trump has said,
“We have won against ISIS,” but that’s not true. ISIS no longer
controls territory but they are still a threat. Keeping ISIS at bay
in northern Syria means collecting on-the-ground intelligence and guarding tens of
thousands of captured ISIS terrorists and their
families, something the Kurds have done
for us for years. Based on what I saw
in Syria, I strongly believe the president’s
decision may prolong a war— rather than end it.