Donald Trump’s decision to remove American troops from the Syrian-Turkish border has become a flashpoint of international controversy. The bulk of the criticism of Trump has come from two directions. Politically, he is being condemned for abandoning the Kurds, an ally in our fight against ISIS. Spiritually, he is being condemned for abandoning the Christians in Kuridsh-occupied territory to an uncertain but an almost certain nightmarish fate.
For someone like me, a Christian first and an American second, it’s not easy to sort through everything and arrive at what seems to be the position that is the strongest both morally and ethically. I believe the president has done the correct thing here and would like to explain why.
It’s worthy of note, for starters, to remember that the president campaigned on doing exactly what he is doing now. This is not a betrayal but a promise kept. If we want to get out of the Muslim world, the only way to do it is just do it. Rip the bandage off and vacate suddenly and quickly. President Trump has been a critic of the seemingly interminable wars in the Middle East and the unending sacrifice of American blood and treasure for no discernible benefit.
We have no discernible national interest in Syria, and Congress has never approved the use of military force there. There is no Kurdish territory - the Kurds have no state. The segment of the Kurdish people (the YPG) that President Obama began to support in 2014 - yes, we are fighting Obama’s war in Syria - is simply a branch of the PKK, which we correctly have designated as a terrorist organization. (According to Andy McCarthy, Americans have been prosecuted for providing support to the PKK.) If we maintain a troop presence in Syria - which is a client state of Russia and is backed by Iran - eventually what will result, given Erdogan’s abiding hostility toward the Kurds - is not peace but a hot war with Turkey. That would be a great example of a really bad idea.
The fundamental problem in the West is the failure to understand Islam for what it is rather than what we want it to be. The dismal reality is that Islam is not a religion of peace or anything close to it. It is rather a religion of war, violence, and death, and no amount of wishing and hoping will ever change that. Islam has been a religion of war and aggression from day one. If it hasn’t changed its stripes in 1400 years, it’s unlikely to do so in time to solve the crisis in Syria in our generation or any generation to follow.
The fatal flaw of the West is the tendency to think that Muslims are like us only different, to think that we share enough foundational values that they can be persuaded to compromise and work for peace. This is foolish and naive in the extreme. Their only version of peace is Islamic control of everything.
The primal energy in Islam is a hatred of anything and everything non-Muslim, including people. Christianity has taught us in the West to be guided by morality and reason, and we falsely assume that people in the Islamic world have the same attachment to rationality that we do. No point of view could possibly be more dangerous.
The only language Islam understands is the language of raw force. Muslims cannot be persuaded to pursue peace, they can only be forcibly restrained from imposing their Islamic will on the infidels (that’s us).
The only time followers of Muhammad will exercise restraint and settle for something resembling a truce is when they know that victory by force is impossible. Then they will use the truce to stealthily rearm until they regain superiority of force. Then look out. This has been their strategy since 622 A.D.
Simply put, the only way to permanently pacify any part of the Muslim world is to colonize it and put Westerners in charge. Britain pacified any number of Muslim lands at the height of its empire, but it required Britain to run things. As soon as the British granted independence and pulled out, things immediately descended into tribal warfare and utter chaos.
I see no nation today that has either the understanding, the inclination, or the will to attempt something that audacious. Since colonization is out, that leaves only one option for a Christian nation with regard to Christians living in Muslim lands: find a way to get them out and give them refuge in the Christian West.
The only possible reason to spend one more dollar or one more day in Syria or Turkey is in an effort to provide a military corridor of escort and escape for every Christian who wants to leave, a corridor that leads to some form of transport by sea, land, or air. Short of that, any and all military efforts are doomed to fail. We will simply be postponing the inevitable. Afghanistan should be living proof of that. It is folly to lose the life of one more American soldier in the literally godforsaken sands of the Muslim world.
The president wants our military out of Muslim lands, and he is right to do so. We should leave and take as many Christians with us as we can.
The author may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org