The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s been a week of interesting times, in the Chinese-curse sense of the term.

When I posted last week’s Sift, Trump had announced that American troops in Syria were pulling back from the border zone that Turkey wanted to occupy, apparently abandoning the Kurdish allies who had defeated ISIS under our guidance. Turkey hadn’t moved yet, but an invasion was expected soon.

Since then, Turkey has invaded, the UN Security Council’s condemnation of that invasion was blocked by the odd couple of the US and Russia, Trump made noises about economic sanctions against Turkey but did nothing, the Kurds flipped their alliances and sought protection from the Putin-supported Assad regime, some unknown number of ISIS prisoners escaped to sow new mayhem, and now the remaining US troops in Syria are making a chaotic retreat to avoid getting caught in a Syrian-Turkish crossfire. The only clear winner in all this is Putin. Funny thing; weird Trump administration stories always seem to come back to Putin somehow.

The Trump impeachment story also got more interesting. Our recently fired ambassador to Ukraine defied Trump’s gag order and testified behind closed doors for nine hours. Two of Rudy’s cronies got arrested for channeling Ukrainian (and possibly Russian) money into Republican campaigns, amid tales of plots to manipulate the Ukrainian national gas company to the advantage of Republican donors. Giuliani himself is said to be under investigation by the SDNY, which he used to run. The administration lost a series of court cases, but that didn’t stop the White House Counsel from staking out a maximal Trump-is-above-the-law position in a letter to Congress.

Meanwhile, Trump announced a breakthrough in the China trade war, which so far looks a lot like his “breakthrough” to denuclearize North Korea. The Democrats are about to hold another presidential debate. Another big Brexit deadline is coming up. Poland’s voters endorsed its authoritarian-populist ruling party. California had a series of brownouts and blackouts. The kettle kept boiling in Hong Kong. And … well, you get the idea. The world kept being the world, even while we were all looking in some other direction.

So anyway, there will be two featured posts this week. The first one, out soon, is my answer to Republicans like Lindsey Graham, who have supported Trump in everything else, but are shocked by his betrayal of the Kurds: “Backstabbing the Kurds is just Trump being Trump”. A trust-is-for-suckers theme has run through his entire life, so you can’t really be surprised that the Kurds are joining Trump U students and his three wives on the list of people whose trust he’s abused. As Trump often says about immigrants, you knew he was a snake when you took him in.

The second featured post will focuses on impeachment, and in particular how the Ukraine shakedown gets bigger and bigger the longer Congress investigates. At first we thought it was just a simple phone call, but now it looks like large chunks of the State Department — and possibly Energy Secretary Perry and VP Pence — got pulled into a months-long corrupt scheme. That should be out around 11 EDT.

The weekly summary will cover more of the operational developments in Syria, plus a lot of important stuff that isn’t getting the attention it deserves while we all focus on Syria and impeachment. It should appear between noon and 1.

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