Joseph Sabino Mistick: Real value of loyalty lost on Trump
I am not an expert in foreign relations or diplomacy. But I do understand the nature and importance of loyalty.
President Trump’s unilateral decision to abandon the Kurdish fighters in Syria is an invitation to Turkey to cross the border and annihilate the Kurds. This seems clueless.
The Kurdish fighters in Syria are our allies. Turkish President Recep Erdogan believes that they are his enemies, terrorists to be destroyed at the first opportunity.
After a phone call last Sunday with Erdogan, Trump took Erdogan’s side against the Kurds who have loyally fought alongside our own troops. Thousands of Kurds have died fighting our enemies in the Middle East, and Trump’s policy abandons them to a man whose goal is to wipe them out.
There was a time when Trump talked like he understood the importance of loyalty. Just last year, when Kurdish journalist Rahim Rashidi asked him if America would still support his people after they had helped defeat ISIS in Syria, Trump firmly gave them what we now know was false hope.
“We have to help them. I want to help them. They fought with us. They died with us. They died. We lost tens of thousands of Kurds, died fighting ISIS. They died for us and with us,” he said.
“They’re great people. And we have not forgotten. We don’t forget,” Trump promised.
Trump has rankled our old friends and allies since he took office, challenging agreements and treaties, purposefully abandoning America’s international leadership role. And he is shattering the post-World War II order that has prevented world wars, and has proposed nothing in its place.
But this betrayal of the Kurds seems even more impulsive, more immediate and even more un-American. And Trump’s staunchest political allies in the Republican Party have gone south on him over this one, even though their gripes are more about strategy than loyalty.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, generally a Trump cheerleader, challenged the president in his own arena, tweeting, “So sad. So dangerous. President Trump may be tired of fighting radical Islam. They are NOT tired of fighting us.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”
Trump has never understood the real meaning of loyalty. Six days after taking office, Trump told FBI Director James Comey, “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.”
And at his first Cabinet meeting, Trump loved it when his top appointees gave him the same treatment dictator Kim Jong Un gets in North Korea, groveling and heaping praise upon him.
Trump seems to think that sucking up to him is loyalty, but real loyalty is a funny thing. In order to get loyalty, you have to give loyalty.
Loyalty, unlike talent or skills or expertise, cannot be hired or purchased. And it cannot be demanded or forced.
After Rahim Rashidi, the Kurdish journalist, heard Trump’s promise to remain loyal to the loyal Kurds, he told The Washington Post, “It’s given us something. He’s given us hope.”
And now he has turned on them.
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at [email protected].