Americans, have become the “bad guys.” 

While many people’s attention was focused on the impeachment breaking news stories, the despicable coward Trump was meeting with Turkey’s despot Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and apparently okaying a full-on offensive against our former friends and allies the Kurd’s. NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel confirmed last night that Turkey indeed had launched a new offensive against the Kurds in Northern Syria, Engel hashtagged his update with #AmericanBetrayal.

“Massive attacks underway against the Kurds in northern Syria. No ceasefire. Total nonsenses there is,” Engel reported.

Donald Trump originally greenlighted the first attacks against the Kurds during a phone call with Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This action resulted in may innocent women and children being murdered, it also released many Daesh (ISIS) terrorist fighters back into the population.

“US military officials tell me they are ashamed, ‘sickened.’ It’s cold now outside. What about the families, and kids, out of their homes?” he wondered.

Of course, Trump praised Erdoğan during a White House visit on Thursday.

Richard Engel had this sobering assessment, “The more I talk to sources, the more I’m hearing America’s betrayal of the Kurds, and the humiliation, misogynistic squashing” of US ambassador in Ukraine for political motivations makes people think, we, Americans, have become the “bad guys.”  Hearing it was a gut punch.

The truth about the fall of al-Baghdadi (not the Trump BS)

The Kurdish Martyrs Cemetery in Kobani.Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

QAMISHLI, Syria — When the international manhunt for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, zoomed in on a village in northwestern Syria, the United States turned to its local allies to help track the world’s most-wanted terrorist.

The American allies, a Kurdish-led force that had partnered with the United States to fight ISIS, sent spies to watch his isolated villa. To confirm it was him, they stole a pair of Mr. al-Baghdadi’s underwear — long, white boxers — and obtained a blood sample, both for DNA testing, the force’s commander, Mazlum Abdi, said in a phone interview on Monday.

American officials would not discuss the specific intelligence provided by the Kurds, but said that their role in finding Mr. al-Baghdadi was essential — more so than all other countries combined, as one put it — contradicting Trump’s assertion over the weekend that the United States “got very little help.”

Yet even as the Syrian Kurdish fighters were risking their lives in the hunt that led to Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death this weekend, Mr. Trump abruptly shattered America’s five-year partnership with them.

He decided to withdraw American troops from northern Syria, leaving the Kurds suddenly vulnerable to an invasion by Turkey and feeling stung by an American betrayal, and throwing the Baghdadi operation into turmoil as the Kurds suspended their security cooperation with the United States to rush off and defend their land.

“We thought that America would keep its promises,” said Mr. Abdi, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. “But in the end there was weakness — and disappointment.”

The United States joined forces with Mr. Abdi’s group five years ago, when it was looking for skilled Syrian fighters who could effectively serve as ground troops for an American air campaign against the Islamic State. As the alliance matured, the United States armed and trained Kurdish-led fighters and pressed them to shift their priorities to serve American interests.

The United States pushed them to take the fight against ISIS to areas outside their traditional homeland, costing them many lives. It also discouraged them from negotiating a deal with the Syrian government, telling them that sticking with the United States would win them a stake in the country’s future.

“We said being associated with the U.S. coalition would put you in a position where you would be represented,” Gen. Joseph L. Votel, former head of the military’s Special Operations and Central Commands, said in a telephone interview. “You’d be on the winning team.”

In an effort to placate Turkey, the United States convinced the Kurds to destroy their defenses, softening them up for a Turkish attack. It also sought their help in the United States’ regional struggle with Iran, a cause they had little stake in.

For the Kurdish-led forces, the sting was not that American troops were withdrawing from Syria, which they knew would happen eventually. It was that after five years of their fighting and dying alongside American troops in the battle against ISIS Mr. Trump pulled the plug so suddenly that they were ill-prepared for what came next.

“It was a stab in the back,” said Nesrin Abdullah, a spokeswoman for the Kurdish women’s militia. “The Americans kept saying they would not allow the Turks to enter, but in the end that’s what happened.”

Part of the problem was that American officials sent conflicting messages about how long the United States would stay in Syria and what it was doing there.

Obama administration officials told their Kurdish allies that the partnership would last through the defeat of ISIS, but that the United States would help them play a role in Syria’s future. That message grew even more muddled over the last year, as Mr. Trump vowed to withdraw American troops while other officials in his administration said they would stay until Iran had left the country and there was a political solution in Damascus.

While there may not have been explicit promises, to the Kurds these messages pointed to a continued American presence. In fact, even during the weeks before the withdrawal, American diplomats were advising them on programs to improve governance and security — topics that did not suggest an imminent rush for the exit.

The swift dissolution of a powerful partnership, reconstructed here through more than a dozen interviews with United States and Kurdish officials, pained not only Syria’s Kurds but also Americans who worked with them to defeat the Islamic State.

If the battles served an American agenda, it was the Kurds who died for it. Fewer than a dozen Americans were killed during the anti-ISIS campaign in Syria, compared with 11,000 from the Kurdish-led forces.

“We outsourced the dying to them,” said a United States official who worked in Syria, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. “And in the end, we asked them to surrender everything they worked for: the security of their heartland, their political project, and their people. We’re ensuring that those 11,000 died for nothing.”

The partnership began by chance during a crisis.

By October 2014, three years into Syria’s civil war, the Islamic State had seized territory the size of Britain straddling the Syria-Iraq border. When ISIS set its sights on the poor Kurdish town of Kobani, the United States jumped in, working with Kurdish fighters while launching hundreds of airstrikes on ISIS tanks, artillery pieces and armored vehicles.

Polat Can, a senior adviser to the Kurdish militia, said that a joint operations room in northern Iraq was so crowded that Kurdish and American soldiers slept together on the floor. He recalled the Americans’ joy whenever they blew up an ISIS target.

The partnership worked. The militants sustained their first major defeat in Syria, and the United States found a reliable Syrian partner.

When the conflict in Syria began in 2011 with an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, the United States tried to back Arab rebels to fight the government, and later to battle the Islamic State. But those efforts failed because of rebel corruption and infighting, defections to extremist groups or lack of American follow-up.

Kobani introduced the United States to a new force, a Kurdish militia called the People’s Protection Units, which American officials found to be skilled, disciplined and loyal to a communist-inspired ideology that allowed no sympathy for Islamists.

It had come together early in the war to protect Syria’s Kurds, a long-marginalized ethnic minority concentrated in the country’s northeast. But the militia’s roots in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a guerrilla movement that has been fighting an insurgency in Turkey for decades, complicated the new partnership. Turkey and the United States consider the group a terrorist organization, but in 2014, American officials were so desperate for allies against ISIS that they overlooked those ties. Turkey did not, and its animosity to the Kurdish fighters in Syria would grow over the coming years.

Turkey took particular offense at Mr. Abdi, the Syrian commander who became the Americans’ main interlocutor. Mr. Abdi, also known as Mazlum Kobani, had joined the Kurdish guerrillas during university and become a protégé of the movement’s founder, Abdullah Ocalan. Officials in Turkey and Iraq say Mr. Abdi worked for the group for decades and led a special operations unit that attacked Turkish soldiers.

But the Americans found him to be a strategic thinker who kept his promises. A soft-spoken man in his late 40s, Mr. Abdi had short brown hair, a clean-shaven face and a preference for military fatigues and black sneakers. The partnership grew, with the United States providing intelligence, air cover and logistical help as Mr. Abdi’s forces routed ISIS from towns across northern Syria.

“The American military saw what could be done with local, indigenous fighters who had a will to fight hard, take instruction and were trusted not to shoot U.S. forces in the back,” said Nicholas A. Heras, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security who has advised Kurdish forces in Syria. As Mr. Abdi’s forces advanced, they allied with Christian, Arab and other militias, rebranding themselves in 2015 as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F.

After the group’s victories in northern Syria, the United States wanted it to pivot south, toward the predominantly Arab provinces of Raqqa and Deir al-Zour, where the Islamic State was strongest. Some Kurds resisted, asking why their youth should die for Arab lands and questioning the United States’ commitment to their people.

But their leader decided that leaving ISIS anywhere in Syria would be a threat, and top American officials reassured the Kurds that the United States would secure them a place in the country’s future.

“There were people saying, ‘Why are you going to Raqqa?” said Nasir Haj Mansour, a Syrian Kurdish researcher who is close to the S.D.F. leadership. “I told them: ‘If we don’t fight ISIS there, it will come fight us here. Now we have an opportunity with the international coalition to get rid of this organization for the good of everyone.’”

United States military assistance increased. American advisers taught Syrian fighters infantry tactics, first aid, bomb defusal and reconnaissance skills for American airstrikes.

In October 2017, backed by American jets and armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, they seized Raqqa, the ISIS capital, where they embarrassed their American partners and angered Turkey by unfurling a banner of Mr. Ocalan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party founder, in a downtown square.

In the areas it liberated, the S.D.F. established local councils that followed its philosophy of community rule and gender equality.

American officials never endorsed the Kurds’ political project but made repeated if vague promises to help secure their political future.

“Truthfully, we didn’t have a solid plan for how it would end,” Gen. Tony Thomas, a former head of the military’s Special Operations Command, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last week. “But they believed that they would be part of the fabric of the future of Syria.”

Mixed Signals

Last December, Mr. Trump suddenly announced on Twitter that he was withdrawing the roughly 2,000 American troops in Syria because ISIS had been defeated, calling that “my only reason for being there.”

The decision baffled the Kurdish-led forces, who were still locked in fierce battles with the Islamic State and would not rout the group from its last patch of territory for another three months.

The withdrawal decision angered Mr. Trump’s Republican allies in Congress and even members of his administration.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned, as did Brett McGurk, the presidential envoy for the fight against the Islamic State, who both considered it a mistake. Since Mr. Trump took office, top administration officials had said the American presence in Syria was not just to ensure the end of the militants but also to press for political change in Damascus and push out Iran.

The Kurds wanted continued United States help against ISIS and sought political change in Damascus, but resisted joining the struggle with Iran, especially given the United States’ shaky commitment, Kurdish officials said.

Mr. Trump compromised, ordering the military to reduce the American presence to 1,000 troops, while United States officials hinted at a longer-term presence.

Throughout the war, the Kurds had never joined the rebels against Mr. al-Assad’s government and kept lines open in case they needed to reconcile. But Trump administration officials told them American partners should not talk to American enemies, Mr. Abdi has said, so they froze talks with the Syrian government.

When Turkey threatened to invade northern Syria to sweep Kurdish forces off its border, the United States carried out a plan that required the Kurds to blow up tunnels, destroy trenches and dig up ammunition caches they had put in place to defend against a possible Turkish attack.

Many Kurds feared the plan would leave them vulnerable, but Mr. Abdi carried it out, convinced that the United States would ensure his people’s safety.

The partnership appeared to be solid: The United States was seeking Kurdish help for the most sensitive of missions, the hunt for Mr. al-Baghdadi.

After American officials determined that he could be in Idlib Province, in northeastern Syria, the Kurdish-led force sent spies who watched the house, determined how many rooms it had and who was in it, and found a tunnel underneath, according to Mr. Abdi and a Kurdish intelligence officer. During the raid, Mr. al-Baghdadi fled into the tunnel with three children and blew himself up, killing them all.

The Kurdish spies also stole the terrorist leader’s boxer shorts and obtained a blood sample through what Mr. Abdi called “intelligence work.”

DNA testing confirmed that Mr. al-Baghdadi was inside, and Mr. Abdi’s spies kept watch while the United States planned the raid to get him.

‘You Tricked Us!’

They were still waiting on Oct. 6, when Mr. Trump announced after a phone call with Mr. Erdogan that he was removing American troops from the path of a Turkish attack on the United States’ Syrian partners.

The ensuing fighting killed more than 200 people and delayed the raid on Mr. al-Baghdadi’s villa as Mr. Abdi’s forces shifted their focus to fighting the Turks.

Some American officials watched in dread as Turkey attacked the very zone where the Kurds had removed their defenses.

“You tricked us!” Mr. Abdi, the Kurdish commander, yelled at American officials.

Kurdish officials rushed to the Syrian government for help, but instead of bargaining from a position of strength, they now began talks under fire.

The feeling of betrayal consumed not just the Kurds but much of northeastern Syria, where residents who had felt protected by the United States feared Turkey and Mr. al-Assad’s troops.

“The Americans betrayed the Kurds,” Farhan Mohammed, a Kurdish ice merchant, shouted as an American convoy passed his shop on its way out of Syria last week. His friends yelled insults and flashed the thumbs-down.

“Our whole future is determined by Trump’s tweets,” he said.

Mr. Trump has stood by his decision.

“We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives,” he said this month adding that a small contingent of troops would remain in Syria’s east at the request of Israel and Jordan and to “protect the oil.”

Other than that, he said, there was “no reason” to remain.

“Perhaps it’s time for the Kurds to start heading to the oil region,” he said in a tweet on Thursday, seeming to suggest another mission for the Kurds.

But the Kurds are busy resisting further Turkish advances that they fear could amount to the ethnic cleansing of Kurds from their homeland.

Kurdish leaders say they hoped five years of cooperation could have ended with more respect for their sacrifices.

“All of a sudden you give it up and give it to the regime and Russia and Iran,” said Mr. Can, the S.D.F. adviser. “After that, who is going to trust the Americans and help them? No one.”

Despite their anger, the Kurds have not cut ties with the United States.

Mr. Abdi, their leader, has spoken twice by phone with Mr. Trump and there is talk of his visiting Washington. And the Kurds have not rejected Mr. Trump’s suggestion that some Kurdish fighters remain in eastern Syria to protect the oil facilities.

But the trust in the White House is gone.

“The situation has changed,” said Ilman Ehmed, a top Kurdish official who was in Washington last week to speak with other American officials about continuing cooperation. “But we still trust the fact that we have many friends among the American people. In the House of Representatives. The Senate. And military leaders. I trust their support.”

New York Times

The bravest man in the world

Dear leader and fulltime blatant liar Trump on Monday delivered his most off the wall remarks to date on gun control. A few actual policy points where brought up in between ridiculous comments about how he would have run inside the Florida school during the Feb. 14 shooting there “even if I didn’t have a weapon” and how he wants to arm only teachers who have a “natural talent, like hitting a baseball or hitting a golf ball or putting,”

Let’s get this straight. Our five-time deferred president (aka Cadet Bone Spurs) has claimed that if he had been at the Florida school shooting he would have run inside even if he hadn’t had a gun. Based on his illustrious record, I’m betting that the only way he would have run inside is if the shooter were outside chasing him.

Donnie “bone spurs” comments about what he would have done had he been at the shooting in Florida: This human being has absolutely no shame. The whole country is embarrassed.

His statement that he would have jumped in there with or without a gun is mighty bold talk for a five-time draft-dodger.

Where was “Macho Donny” he during the Vietnam War when his country called? Talk is cheap. Action talks and bullshit bravado walks. He simply is exploiting a tragic event to boost his own self-image.

Too much emphasis has been placed on the campus sheriff school resource officer and the four sheriffs deputies called to the scene. Some people think they all should have gone after the shooter, but wouldn’t you hesitate if you heard an assault weapon blistering away and only had a handgun and no armor? There needs to be proper training and outfitting to make that a plausible solution.

The odds that those officers could have done something to stop the shooter are slim and none. Statistics show that a trained shooter should make 85 percent-plus on target hits but, in an active shooter scene, the percentage of target hits is only 17%. Certainly, you have to agree, that those odds would be much worse against an assault rifle.

The bottom line is that assault weapon ownership needs to be carefully regulated. They are a weapon of war. Also, we need more train and properly outfitted law enforcement present on campuses.

We just can’t wait until this delusional dotard and his cadre of sycophants are out of power, and most of them in jail.

Submitted by commenter  – re:pete

Where’s all that macho bravado now? Lil’ Donny snowflake hides out in Poland

President Snowflake: Trump Needs a Safe Space in Europe

He’s a self-proclaimed brawler, but Trump didn’t head straight for the handshake-snubbing Macron or mean lady Merkel at the G-20. No, first he needed an adoring hug from Poland.

“Fuck your feelings” was a resonant refrain among many Trump supporters during the 2016 campaign.

In their view, we were living in a country where the coddling of youthful sensitivities had run amok, and Donald Trump was the unvarnished antidote to the left’s assault on American toughness. Can’t handle it? Then leave, snowflake.

But President Trump, champion of fuck your feelings, has proved to be the most delicate snowflake of all. While every modern president has favored sympathetic media outlets and friendly crowds, Trump is different in the degree to which his promises differ from his actions. Unlike his predecessors, his appeal is built around a bravado he won’t or can’t exhibit.

In the first six months of his presidency, the self-professed brawler has dodged the press, favoring pillow fights with Fox & Friends over substantive exchanges with critical journalists.

He’s lived in denial of his unpopularity, choosing instead to fluff his insatiable ego before campaign-style rallies where he makes wild claims he then sends his unprepared lackeys to defend.

He pulled out of the Paris climate deal reportedly because his feelings were hurt by French President Emmanuel Macron’s handshake snub.

He responds to negative news coverage with tantrums and personal insults on social media, where he can duck behind his army of anonymous affirmers.

He fired the FBI director and a U.S. attorney after both reportedly rebuffed his inappropriate overtures.

His closest aides fear exposing him to unflattering news coverage, lest they bruise their boss’ ego.

The man never apologizes.

The president’s true-believing base and the suckling underlings who see him as a means to an end still publicly express support for him. His social-media coordinator and barking sons, loyal to Trump as a trio of undersocialized rescue dogs, have never met a pro-Trump conspiracy theory they wouldn’t help spread.

But beyond that, the number of people who are willing to tell Donald Trump that he is wonderful is dwindling. Stateside, all the polling has him at a sub-40 percent approval rating, with no rally in sight. Internationally, it’s worse. In Europe, it’s abysmal.

Given Trump’s complete inability to process dissent, this week’s G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, puts President Snowflake directly in harm’s way. Thankfully, there’s Poland.

Poland is not on the way to Hamburg from the United States. It’s an overshoot. But it’s the closest place to the G-20 the president could land with the reasonable expectation that he wouldn’t be triggered by hordes of protesters the second he landed.

Just to be on the safe side, Polish officials bused extra Trump fans into Warsaw from across the countryside, armed with cheers and enthusiasm, and none of that scary dissent that frightens Donald so very much. Just what a brave president would want. Trump delivered a speech worthy of a B- from a middle-school civics teacher, and the crowd lost its mind. Stateside, Morning Joe, recently the target of one of Trump’s cowardly lobs, tiptoed around Trump’s ineptitude, apparently aware of what’s at stake globally if Trump’s in a bad mood on international trips.

Who knows what would have happened if the president had visited, say, Stockholm or Nice. Feelings could have been hurt! Feelings with nuclear launch codes!

The rest of this week promises to be even rougher for President Trump and his eggshell emotions. At the G-20, he’ll have to face the aforementioned Macron, the rude handshaker, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a mean lady who refuses to praise him even though he has done everything he is capable of as president, which is nothing.

Trump will have to face a harsh world, one far from the safe space of his office with the enormous TV screen and the approving hedgehog face of Sean Hannity.

Trump will also have a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump once halfway invited to a Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Apart from governing from the same city where a Miss Universe pageant once occurred, Putin is also a tiny despot, the sort of man Trump believes himself to be in the same way a cat watching a nature show on TV believes itself to be a lion. Incidentally, Russia is one of the only places in the world where Trump is popular.

Putin is also the sort of man most of America would hope the president would have the stones to confront, if given the opportunity. Putin is also behind an attempt to meddle in the 2016 American presidential election, according to every intelligence organization.

Trump will not be dwelling on this fact, according to The New York Times, because Russia meddling in the U.S. election undermines Trump’s electoral win, which he is apparently more proud of than he is in the continued integrity of the American electoral system. His fear of the disapproval of a masculine caricature is greater than any feeling of obligation to serve the interests of the country that elected him.

A normal person would take mass disdain—of the U.S., of Europe, of the industrialized world as a whole—as a clue that they, perhaps, are personally doing something wrong.

Not Donald Trump. Trump could drive northbound in the southbound lane of an expressway and interpret the other drivers’ honks as affronts to his inherent rightness, so fearful is he of being wrong.

It’s hard to fathom a person who demands so much personal toughness of those around him yet displays so little. Trump’s critics have called this behavior childlike, immature, id-driven. Even his supporters would find fault in a man so frightened by confrontation that he’s willing to fly several hundred miles out of the way to avoid it.

Trump is a wimp, a baby, a wuss, a chicken, a cupcake. To borrow from the vocabulary of the “Fuck your feelings” crowd: a puppet. Or something else that starts with a “p.”