Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was on the hot seat Sunday when Fox News’ Chris Wallace grilled him on President Donald Trump’swithdrawal of forces from Northern Syria.
Wallace began by confronting Esper over the atrocities and troubling developments in the region now that America’s Kurdish allies have come under attack from the Turkish military’s incursion. Ester said he has raised his objections with the Turkish government, even as Wallace asked him, “What are you going to do about it? What are you going to do to stop this?”
Esper responded by calling it a “terrible situation” as he outlined the Turkish military’s projected movements and what it means for U.S. troops. Esper reaffirmed that the Trump administration is commencing a “deliberate withdrawal of U.S. forces” from Northern Syria, but Wallace continued to press him on whether America is ignoring Kurdish cries for help.
“The U.S. has 50 special operations forces along the border acting as a tripwire, if you will, to keep the Turks from coming across the border. We were the protection for the Kurds. After President Trump talked to President Erdogan last Sunday, President Trump decided to pull those troops out and the Turks invaded. Isn’t that the definition of abandoning the Kurds?”
Ester said the Turkish government was “fully committed” to their incursion regardless of the U.S. stance on it, so Esper recommended that “we should not put U.S. forces in between a Turkish advance.” To this, Wallace asked Esper “do you really believe that President Erdogan and the Turks were going to just come through the border, perhaps create a conflict with the United States, if we had stood firm?”
This led to an extensive back-and-forth about whether Turkey would’ve hesitated if they had to contend with U.S. forces, and whether the U.S. still sees Turkey as an ally.
““No,” Esper answered on the latter. “I think Turkey, the arc of their behavior over the past several years has been terrible.”
Watch above, via Fox News.