Gazette-Mail editorial: Kurds may be 'no angels,' but they were allies

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted in an overwhelming bipartisan display, 354-60, to condemn President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria, abandoning Kurdish allies who helped fight ISIS.

Immediately after the withdrawal, as many predicted, authoritarian Turkish President Erdogan began an assault on U.S. trained and supplied Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The decision has also led to the freeing of many ISIS prisoners, and there are fears that the terrorist organization, which the president once declared “defeated,” will reemerge.

The abrupt decision has united Republicans and Democrats, expressing outrage that the country would abandon an ally in a war zone.

Among those who voted for the House resolution chiding Trump was Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va. He is now the second member of West Virginia’s congressional delegation to officially criticize the decision. Last week, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., put out a statement slamming the troop withdrawal, although he never mentioned Trump by name. Manchin co-authored a letter released Thursday asking Trump to reconsider.

After the Gazette-Mail reached out Thursday, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., issued a statement on the situation, saying she believes a U.S. military presence should be maintained “until we are confident that withdrawing will not result in the reemergence of terrorist groups such as ISIS and will not give Iran and Russia an opportunity to further destabilize this important region.”

Republican Reps. Alex Mooney and Carol Miller apparently have no problem with the decision, voting against the House resolution.

Mooney and Miller decided to defend the man who, when pressed on his decision the same day as the vote, made bizarre remarks, such as, “There’s a lot of sand they can play with,” in the region and, “So it’s a very semi-complicated — not too complicated if you’re smart; but it’s a semi-complicated problem, and I think it’s a problem that we have very nicely under control.”

To quote Mitt Romney, “Oh, my goodness gracious.”

Trump said the Kurdish fighters were “no angels.” Maybe not, but they were certainly allies who risked their lives so the U.S. military wouldn’t have to expend more of its own.

The president made a hasty decision, the impetus of which the American public may not know for some time. He is now attempting to levy sanctions against Turkey. Then, Vice President Mike Pence, who is in Turkey, reportedly said no sanctions will be imposed (although that’s not really up to him) and that a five-day cease-fire had been reached in the conflict Trump allowed to happen.

Excuses and contradictory reasoning surrounding this entire situation have been profuse, but the president now seems to be hanging his hat on “bringing the troops home.” There’s nothing wrong with that, but typically it needs to be done in a fashion that doesn’t knee-cap an ally, strengthen Russian interests in the region and possibly lead to a resurgence of a terrorist organization that is very much an enemy of the United States, no matter how far away.

McKinley and 128 of his Republican House colleagues should be applauded for realizing that taking a stand on this issue was not “semi-complicated” and that country can still have a place over party.

Funerals for Sunday, November 17, 2019

Ellis, Walter - 1 p.m., West Logan Missionary Baptist Church.

Evans, Robert - 2 p.m., Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Hess, Steven - 6 p.m., Grace Church of the Nazarene, South Charleston.

Holmes, Buddy - 2 p.m., Elizabeth Baptist Church, Charleston.

Jeffrey Jr., Algie - 2 p.m., Stevens Chapel Methodist Church, Lake.

Mace, Elma - 2 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Arnoldsburg.

Meadows II, Richard - 2 p.m., Central Christian Church, Huntington.

Messinger, John - 2 p.m., Davis Funeral Home, Clarksburg.

Reynolds, Gladys - 1 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Smith, Rosie - 2 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

Sykes, Teresa - 2 p.m., Winfield Church of the Nazarene.