As the impeachment drama kicks off, Jim and Greg nearly injure themselves rolling their eyes as a longtime Republican aide who is pro-impeachment suggests allowing a secret ballot vote in the Senate to improve the odds of President Trump being removed from office. They also slam Trump for warmly welcoming Turkish President Erdogan despite his atrocities towards the Kurds and other antagonism towards the U.S. And they cringe a bit when looking at numbers suggesting Democrats might have a chance at winning Georgia this year, although they do find a deeply satisfying silver lining.
On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence announced a cease-fire agreement that will end Turkish aggression against the Kurds in northern Syria for at least five days as a stepping stone to long-term stability.
But while Trump heaps praise on the deal and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, what does the deal actually accomplish? Does it bring at least a brief stretch of stability to the region or or is it a flimsy deal that really sells out the Kurds?
In this podcast, we discuss all these questions with American Foreign Policy Council Senior Vice President Ilan Berman. And we’ll also ask why Trump is so effusive in his admiration for Erdogan and what impact this whole episode will have on U.S. relations with other allies.
Jim Geraghty and Gregory Knapp of National Review discuss the impact of the Istanbul mayoral results on Recep Erdoğan, President of Turkey, and his party. They cover the entrance of Joe Sestak, former congressman from Pennsylvania, into the Democratic presidential primary. And they discuss the emerging rivalries between fans of different Founding Fathers in response to Alexander Hamilton’s exploding popularity.
President Trump is taking heat from all points on the political spectrum for announcing an immediate withdrawal of some 2,000 U.S. forces in Syria, but retired U.S. Navy Captain Chuck Nash believes Trump is doing the right thing while acknowledging the decision leaves several uncertainties in the Middle East.
On Wednesday, Trump declared that ISIS was defeated in Syria, a claim roundly rejected by lawmakers and national security experts who say it damages the credibility of the United States to suddenly get out before ISIS is fully crushed.
Nash says Trump is just sticking to his promise to neutralize the ISIS threat and then get out. He likens it to President George Bush’s handling of the Gulf War as the U.S.-led coalition evicted Iraq from Kuwait.
“We did that in blinding time. There were a lot of people saying, ‘Keep going to Baghdad.’ No, that’s mission creep. A lot of people, me included, said he did the right thing. This was after Vietnam, where mission creep bogged us down into a horrible situation,” said Nash.
Nash says Trump vowed to stay in Syria only until ISIS was crushed and he says that has largely happened because of the Trump administration’s approach to fighting ISIS.
“We took off the restrictive rules of engagement. We put the right kind of people on the ground and we let the right people do the fighting, backed up by the right people. It’s been much smarter the way we’ve done it and if you want to look at tonnage of bombs, (it’s) drastically different from what happened during the Obama administration,” said Nash.
Trump’s critics are accusing him of cutting and running similar to President Barack Obama’s withdrawal of all U.S. forces in Iraq in 2011. Nash says there is a big difference.
“What’s different from what President Trump is doing than what President Barack Obama did was (Obama) advertised a pullout some point down the road. That just gave the enemy time to prepare. What Trump has done is pull the rug out from under them and said we’re pulling those 2,000 troops back,” said Nash.
Nash also believes Trump reached his decision based on the evidence presented by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last month.
“(Erdogan) made a speech on Nov. 27 in which he said there were no real ISIS fighters left in Syria, that there are just some gangs in there stirring things up, downplaying the quality and quantity of what remains of ISIS,” said Nash.
Domestic experts estimate 30,000 ISIS terrorists remain engaged in the fight.
Nash does worry about Iran trying to grow it’s influence in the region with the U.S. puling back. He also fears Turkey will mercilessly target Kurdish fighters and that U.S. must stand up for those allies.
“The Kurds are the people we should be supporting in Northern Iraq. We have gained some relationship with the Kurds in Northern Syria because they have been the bulwark of who we have been supporting up there against ISIS. They’ve been doing the vast majority of the fighting against ISIS.
“We are kind of betwixt and between. We can’t let them hang out to dry,” said Nash.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Capt. Nash explain why our improving relations with Turkey may help to protect the Kurds and how the U.S. is not really actually leaving the fight against ISIS entirely.
American pastor Andrew Brunson is headed home after two years of detention over what his family and the U.S. government say are trumped up charges of espionage and terrorism.
And a leading organization assisting persecuted Christians is applauding the Trump administration for its handling of the Brunson case while warning that religious freedom is eroding in Turkey.
Brunson was actually convicted in a Turkish court Friday and sentenced to three years and one and a half months of prison. However, the judge released him because the years in detention amounted to “time served.”
A tearful Brunson thanked the court. Earlier he made an emotional plea for release.
“I am an innocent man. I love Jesus. I love Turkey,” said Brunson.
Open Doors USA President and CEO Dr. David Curry says these were bogus charges from the start, trying to tie Brunson to the failed coup against Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
“(Brunson) has been a part of Turkey for over 20 years. He been a faithful pastor there, great part of the community, good citizen. This was a political issue. They tried to use him as a pawn in a larger political game that did not work. We’re grateful that the administration really held the line on this and was able to get him released,” said Curry.
Curry says the prosecution of Brunson was over politics and the pastor’s Christian faith, and the obvious mistreatment allowed for many different nations and groups to pressure Turkey for Brunson’s release.
He also says the Trump administration’s refusal to hand over another figure allegedly tied to the failed coup attempt is a major win.
“We can’t send a signal that hostage diplomacy is going to work. It was a very good move not to give into that,” said Curry.
Since the failed coup in 2016, Erdogan has shown far less tolerance for Christianity.
“The increased raids on churches and these kinds of things that are happening in Turkey are sending signals that the environment is changing there,” said Curry.
However, Curry is most gratified that Brunson remains firm in his faith after this difficult ordeal.
“I think we take encouragement in that. I think it is also a signal to us to really take the lessons of people who go through harder things than we do when we face discouragement or opposition or even some sort of resistance or persecution. Stand in Jesus. It is the solution. It’s the medicine we need for a broken heart. I think Pastor Brunson is an example of that quite well.
Listen to the full podcast to hear more of Dr. Curry’s analysis of the Brunson case, the reality for believers in Turkey and more.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to disgraced ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner pleading guilty to sending obscene material to a minor and discuss how his character might have played a key role in the final days of the 2016 campaign. They also discuss the ugly beating of Kurdish protesters by the security for Turkish President Erdogan this week in Washington. And they scratch their heads over why Joe Lieberman is at the top of any list to lead the FBI.