In his weekly monologue on “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver broke down President Trump’s withdrawal of American troops from Syria, which he called “a catastrophe.”
The comedian grew serious as he outlined the president’s decision — which experts have labeled as reckless — and warned about the troubles that could follow it, both in the Middle East and here in the United States.
“Even if you think Trump was right to withdraw troops from the area, it clearly makes sense to do it in a way that will cause the least damage to the region, your allies, and your own interests,” Oliver said. “But Trump did none of that.”
Oliver delivered his comments in the wake of the news this weekend that a US military operation led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Kurdish allies in Syria, Oliver said, are left fighting for their lives following the American departure.
The Kurds have served alongside American troops in at least two different conflicts, Oliver noted, meaning they had “fought with the US military in at least two more wars than Donald Trump ever [expletive] did.”
Watch: John Oliver criticizes Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria — Warning: This video includes content some may find offensive
Trump received five deferments from military service from the Vietnam War.
The Kurds, an ethnic minority, are a stateless people spread mostly across Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. They served as American allies in both the Gulf and Iraq Wars and were responsible for much of the ground fighting that cleared the Islamic State from power in Syria.
And information the Kurds supplied was helpful to the US military in its pursuit of al-Baghdadi.
Oliver called it “truly troubling” that Trump appeared to have “rolled over” for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has long expressed a desire to break down the Kurdish militias he perceives to be threats to his power in the region. Oliver said that Trump’s sympathy and apparent affinity for strongmen like Erdogan is damaging to American credibility and bodes for a “terrifying” future while Trump remains in office.
“The more you look at all of this, the more worrying it gets,” Oliver said. “This was an unforced error. Trump chose to do something this sudden, this impetuous, and this damaging, and he’s just not going to change.”