“While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.” — Former Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis, in his resignation letter submitted December 2018 to President Donald Trump, immediately following the beginning of Trump’s Syria troop drawdown

Oct. 6, 2019 will be a day that will live in infamy. On that date, President Donald Trump, after two-and-a-half years of denunciations of leaders of democratic nations and praise for autocrats and dictators, crossed the line from words to murderous deeds. On that day, Trump made it crystal clear that we were about to set up our Kurdish allies for a potential slaughter. Declared Trump supporter and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham: “Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration. This move assures the reemergence of ISIS.”

Kurdistan, a geopolitical region in the Middle East, has struggled long and hard to defeat Middle Eastern terrorism. The Kurdish people have also spent decades resisting tyranny and enduring monstrous attacks. Our country has aided the Kurds in their efforts to survive in a climate hostile to their very existence; they, in turn, have battled ISIS.

As of last Thursday, our Syria withdrawal has led directly to the displacement of about 100,000 Kurds, and a rising death toll. These deaths will remain indelibly on our conscience; there is every reason to believe that the warfare we green-lighted will lead to the death of very many more innocent people.

Peter Galbraith, a veteran U.S. Middle Eastern diplomat, has demonstrated a decades-long commitment to helping our allies, the Kurds, survive against all odds, and personally assisted them in developing their constitution. He has reported: “In the 1980s, the Iraqi armed forces and security services systematically destroyed more than four thousand Kurdish villages and several small cities, attacked over two hundred Kurdish villages and towns with chemical weapons in 1987 and 1988, and organized the deportation and execution of up to 182,000 Kurdish civilians.”

Following Trump's announcement of his murderous and cowardly decision to abandon simultaneously our Kurdish allies and many imperiled Syrians, Galbraith was interviewed by the Bennington (Vermont) Banner. He reminded us that the Kurds, both on our behalf and theirs, have been holding 12,000 ISIS fighters; their ability to hold the ISIS fighters is now seriously weakened.

Trump remains unconcerned about the potential freeing of ISIS fighters. He declared: "They are escaping to Europe.”

Galbraith concluded the interview this way: "Trump is in every way pursuing the Russian agenda. He's against NATO. He's out to destroy the European Union. He's destroying our alliances and making the United States appear to be unreliable. At home he's undermining the United States and democracy. There is no ally (Trump) won't betray and no limit to his treachery.”

Trump has turned American foreign policy on its head. We as a nation committed to, and then, under Trump, walked away from, two multi-national agreements: one that curtailed the nuclear weapons program in Iran, and the other, the 195-party agreement setting limits on global environment-destroying emissions. This is completely inconsistent with our previous role as defender of international law and order; treaty-breaking is the work of a rogue nation.

Trump is using all leverage available to him to harm our democratic allies, and to aid anti-democratic leaders. Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan head the list. All of this stems from Trump's utter disdain for constitutional government.

After heaping effusive praise on North Korea's murderous dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump admiringly stated: “He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.” In March, Trump issued this threat to his political opposition: “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

Trump made it clear last week that constitutional governance in America had been replaced by his "great and unmatched wisdom.”

Trump had already pushed for the withdrawal from Syria last December. General Mattis promptly resigned. Soldiers do not leave fellow soldiers on the battlefield, abandoned to our enemies.

Following Mattis’s December departure, Trump has refused to replace him with a permanent Secretary of Defense. In March of 2018, he fired by tweet Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Marie Yovanovitch, terminated in May by the Trump administration as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testified last week: "Today, we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within."

Sen. Ron Johnson, chair of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee, refuses to hold hearings investigating the Trump administration’s withholding of military aid to the Ukraine. When asked about his own public comments by NBC reporter Chuck Todd, Johnson launched into an incoherent tirade. Johnson was furious and accusatory to the fact-based free press because it rejects pursuing his fanciful conspiracy theories. Johnson, who inexplicably remains committee chair of this vital committee, made it clear he also has no use for the fact-based reports coming from either the FBI or CIA.

Who now is left to defend democracy in America, and to protect democratic nations against the ever-growing threat of Russian expansionism? With the adults in the room gone, what are our chances?

Americans who value democracy must act now to put a stop to the anti-democracy siege led by the President. Republicans, Democrats and independents must pull together on this. If not, we will no longer have Democrats, Republicans or independents — we will have only a division between those who follow orders, and those willing to speak out and risk severe consequences by resisting.

Ron Malzer is a retired psychologist and freelance writer who lives in La Crosse. He can be reached at ronsaturday@gmail.com.

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