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Trump threatens 'far more than sanctions' against Turkey in wake of Syria ground invasion
Turkey launched a military assault against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Syria on Wednesday after President Trump cleared the way by pulling American troops out of the region — a move that prompted bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill.
But, as Turkish ground troops began invading the Kurdish-controlled territories Wednesday afternoon after a volley of airstrikes, Trump sent mixed signals and threatened to impose "far more than sanctions" on Turkey if it doesn't handle the volatile situation in a "humane way."
"I've already told that to President Erdogan: far more than sanctions. I'll do far more than sanctions," Trump said during an unrelated event at the White House, referring to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "I will tell you that I do agree on sanctions, but I think much tougher, if he does not do it in a humane way."
The president did not explain what "far more than sanctions" meant or what a "humane" Turkish invasion of Syria would look like. "We're going to have to define that as we go along," he said.
President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters during an event on "transparency in Federal guidance and enforcement" in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Washington.(Associated Press/Evan Vucci)
Erdogan wants to claim northern parts of Syria to create a "safe zone" where he can host millions of Syrian refugees who fled into Turkey after civil war broke out in the war-torn country eight years ago.
The authoritarian Turkish leader considers the U.S.-allied Kurds currently controlling that region to be terrorists and have made clear he aims to target them in his military campaign.
While Trump played loose on the details, some of his most steadfast allies in Congress broke their rigid loyalty and pledged to punish Turkey for its attack on the Kurds, longtime U.S. allies that have been credited with rooting out ISIS from Syria.
"America is better than this. Please stand up to Turkey, Mr. President," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted at Trump after announcing a package of "severe" punitive sanctions on Turkey co-introduced with Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
Graham, typically one of Trump's most prominent congressional boosters, added, "While the administration refuses to act against Turkey, I expect strong bipartisan support."
As political tensions brewed in the U.S. capital, bloodshed began in Syria.
At least seven civilians and one member of the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces had been killed in Turkish airstrikes as of late Wednesday, according to monitoring groups. Thousands of civilians, meanwhile, were fleeing the area on foot as Turkish forces approached.
It's unknown if the chaos would prompt Trump to retaliate against Erdogan. The White House did not respond to a call seeking comment.
Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria on Sunday after a phone call with Erdogan. The American troops had served as a safeguard against Turkish aggression and as protection for the Kurdish forces in the area.
Trump says he campaigned on ending U.S. military involvement overseas and that this week's abrupt troop withdrawal comports with that message. "We're getting out of the endless wars, have to do it," Trump said at the White House.
But military and national security experts on both sides of the aisle say the troop draw-down could cause a reemergence of ISIS, as Kurds may have to start fighting Turkey in the north instead of guarding areas that were previously controlled by the Islamic extremists.
"There is still time to reverse this decision and avoid this foreign policy blunder," Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), a former Navy SEAL and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, tweeted at Trump.
©2019 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.