President Trump wrote a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week that has to rank among the most bizarre collection of sentences to ever appear on White House letterhead.
In the letter, a copy of which was released Wednesday by Trish Regan of Fox Business, the president exhorts Erdoğan to “work out a deal!” before threatening to impose economic sanctions on Turkey if it does not call off its military offensive into northern Syria, an offensive Trump endorsed days earlier. “History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Trump wrote. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”
“I will call you later,” the letter concludes.
EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained a copy of @realDonaldTrump’s letter to #Erdogan. @POTUS warns him to not “be a tough guy! Don’t be a fool!” Says he could destroy Turkey’s economy if #Syria is not resolved in a humane way. Details tonight at 8pm #TrishRegan #FoxBusiness pic.twitter.com/9BoSGlbRyt
— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) October 16, 2019
Trump has been struggling to rationalize his abrupt decision earlier this month to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria so that Turkey could invade and attack the Kurds, with whom the U.S. had been allied in fighting ISIS for years. The action, which was made official following a call with Ergogan and without consulting the Pentagon or Congress, has resulted in the death of hundreds, the endangerment of American troops, and the undoing of years of work containing ISIS as Turkish forces have destabilized the region. It has also drawn near-universal condemnation, including from Trump’s Republican allies. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) one the president’s most ardent defenders in the Senate, described it on Wednesday as “the most screwed up decision I have seen since I’ve been in Congress.”
Later on Wednesday, congressional leaders met with Trump to discuss how to handle the fallout from the decision, which the House of Representatives earlier voted to condemn 354-60. The meeting did not go well. “He couldn’t handle it,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters. “He just couldn’t handle it. Two-to-one, Republicans voted to oppose what he was doing. He couldn’t handle it and he engaged in a meltdown. We were trying to get his plan, which the resolution asked for, for how we fight ISIS. It was very sad. It was very sad.”
Nancy Pelosi on the Trump Syria meeting: "He just couldn't handle it so he kind of engaged in a meltdown … It was very sad. It was very sad."
Via ABC pic.twitter.com/03dD0C7k1L
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 16, 2019
As the Kurdish people have been slaughtered by Turkish forces, Trump has spewed a series of lies and mischaracterizations in an attempt to justify the action, including a claim that he never endorsed the Turkish invasion. As punishment for doing precisely what the White House gave Turkey the green light to do, Trump has threatened to impose economic sanctions on the nation, both publicly and in the letter he sent Erdoğan on October 9th, which of course did not persuade the Turkish autorcrat to call off the offensive.
Trump better go ahead and make that phone call.