Thursday, October 10, 2019
The fate of an ethnic minority 6,000 miles away has tested Republican support for Donald Trump more than any of the president's scandals and allegations of wrongdoing -- right when he needs GOP lawmakers to protect him from impeachment.
Kurdish fighters in Syria had been the closest U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State. Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region opened the door to a Turkish invasion of territory controlled by the Kurds.
The move infuriated lawmakers from both parties and Trump's outside supporters, especially those with a military background who understand the strategic value of the Kurdish alliance, along with evangelicals who fear for Kurdish Christians.
"I'm heartbroken," Illinois Representative John Shimkus said Thursday. "I called my chief of staff in D.C., I said pull my name off the I-support-Donald-Trump list.'"
Republicans have for years put up with Trump's controversial remarks and actions on matters such as porn star Stormy Daniels, neo-Nazi demonstrators in Virginia, and crude comments about women.
The withdrawal from Syria is different because it cuts to the core of U.S. national security, undoing two decades' worth of efforts to gain the trust of the Kurds and have them fight in the front lines of counter-terrorism efforts so more U.S. troops don't have to.
Shimkus, a West Point graduate and Army veteran who said he won't seek re-election, represents a district that Trump won in 2016, and he has generally supported the president. But in a radio interview Thursday, he called Trump's withdrawal "despicable."
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