Donald Trump’s Operation Legend In Chicago Regarding Guns Did Work

I believe one needs to head back to April 2018 on this blog to find the last time I was able to find something in which I could agree with Donald Trump. At that time it was the decision by the United States to send missiles into Syria for that nation’s use of chemical weapons. Though a limited and symbolic rebuke to President Assad’s putrid behavior at breaking international law, it was nonetheless the correct response to the dictator.

Today, with data to back me up, I can agree with another action that was the result of Trump’s four years in office. The Chicago Sun-Times best known as “the hardest-working paper in America,” reported the following about Operation Legend, a short-lived effort looking to make people arrested for crimes involving guns face tougher federal penalties than they might if prosecuted in this case–by Cook County courts.

We all should be able to agree on policies designed to rein in gun violence.

Authorities have said that at least 170 people were arrested in the Chicago area in Operation Legend, including 130 on gun charges and 40 on drug charges.

For context, Chicago recorded more than 770 killings that year and thousands of nonfatal shootings.

The average federal sentence of nearly four years in the cases the Chicago Sun-Times reviewed was far higher than what’s typically seen in the Cook County courts.

To determine that, the Sun-Times examined a decade of Cook County sentences in cases in which the most serious charge was illegal gun possession. The average prison sentence was less than a year — 254 days — in the approximately 4,000 cases filed between 2011 and the end of 2021. About 2,300 other cases resulted in probation, according to a Cook County database.

What one can absolutely disagree with, however, was the political timing of the larger plan by the Trump White House. Using law and order for election purposes Trump trotted out Operation Legend after a year of growing social pressure on police tactics in the nation. But we know the need to curtail guns was raging in places like Chicago in 2017 when Trump was inaugurated. And St. Loius. And Baltimore. And…

What riled so many at the time Trump sent federal agents to cities in July 202o was that it fit into the larger narrative about his autocratic moves. It did provoke deep concern when sending in federal forces to major cities with Democratic mayors—in an election year. And after the attempted insurrection with Trump’s support and backing on January 6th at the nation’s Capitol, the federal move in hindsight by Trump that summer seems even darker.

Now I certainly understand how in many presidential election years the GOP has spasms and urgings to show how tough they are and how patriotic they can be.  George H.W. Bush, who often gets respect for international policy on this blog, was nonetheless going for the gutter when he used the flag for his bid for the Oval Office, just as Richard Nixon is to be harangued for stoking the middle-class angst over cultural discord in the 1968 election.

So, it is clear that Trump was playing to his election base of white male voters in mid-2020 and was not truly interested in curtailing gun violence. The desire to look tough and act autocratically has long been the default for Trump. That he hungered and slavishly sought the favorable nods and ‘love letters’ from dictators worldwide was not lost on a swath of the nation.

But having said all of that there is no way to not recognize the bold type steps–such as Operation Legend–that will be required to stem the gun culture which creates daily death and bloodshed in the nation.

I would have advised the Biden White House to not have ended the program, but rather tweaked the policy so ‘the locals’ did not feel like the ‘the feds’ were running roughshod. There is much, much merit in getting as many guns…and the misfits who carry them–off the streets. Who can deny that fact?

What probably goes without saying is that even at the time Trump was correct he was so inept that he bungled that, too.

I can not fathom a third Trump action or policy that I will be able to agree with. After all, even a broken clock can be right only twice, come morning and night.

And so it goes.

Erdogan’s Hunger For The Bomb

Turkey’s strongarm leader, Recep Erdogan, isn’t satisfied with just the massive chunk of Syrian land that Trump handed to him.  No, now he wants nuclear weapons as well.

What could possibly go wrong with the idea should it come to fruition?  It is reported today that in the weeks leading up to his order to launch the military across the border to clear Kurdish areas, Erdogan made no secret of his larger ambition.   He stated he could not accept the West telling his nation they can not have missiles with nuclear warheads.   

While this notion that Turkey should have its own nuclear arsenal is dangerous it also needs to be noted why such disorder in the world seems to be intensifying.   At the heart of what Erdogan desires is the fact, he is a strongman who uses ethnic divisions to sow discord which in turn he uses for political advantage.  And the leader of the free world allows for this type of behavior to happen, over and over.

Trump has destroyed, or is in the process of destroying the international institutions which could and should halt the spread of nuclear weaponry.  He has undermined the moral faith and good credit of the United States as an honest international broker in the eyes of the world. He has widely endorsed rulers in Russia, North Korea, and the Philippines along with the awful ethnic-nationalism which stands behind them.

All of this comes on top of the frayed U.S. relations with Turkey over its incursion in Syria.  Over the past week one of the stories which many are concerned about is the obviously sensitive question of whether we should remove the nuclear bombs it has long stored at a Turkish airbase?

All my life it has been the policy of the U.S. to not publicly acknowledge locations of nuclear weapons overseas.   But analysts and scholars feel solid in their reasoning that we have perhaps 50 nuclear bombs stored under heavy guard at Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey.  What confounded me last week was how Trump seemingly acknowledged that privileged information.  When asked by a reporter how confident he was of the bombs’ security he replied “We’re confident.”   So much for state secrets.

There is no known evidence that those nuclear weapons are at direct risk, but relations between Washington and Ankara are, from my memory, at a historic low and the war in Syria has grown more complex and unpredictable.

If David Ignatius were writing the story in book form he would surely add that Incirlik is about 150 miles from Syria by road.

I, like many in this nation, attempt to understand the jigsaw nature of the world.  When thinking about this region, given the past few weeks of absolute choas, it is hard to see a light at the end of the road.  I can not sense any good set of options for NATO members in dealing with what we now all know to be Erdogan’s objective.  Since Trump has kneeled on the world stage and allowed the tactical high ground in the region to Turkey. with no apparent strategic framework in mind, I am at a loss as to see anything but ruin in the region.

Bi-Partisanship Arrived On Capitol Hill, Rebuke Of Trump Over Syria


I strongly suspect that if you gathered a group of citizens from each of the 50 states and asked them if they wanted their elected officials in Washington to compromise on the issues of the day, and find a bipartisan path forward, it would be met with resounding approval.

Today that is what happened, at least on one issue.  An issue, without doubt, of mighty importance.

The House condemned Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria, which paved the way for Turkey’s military assault against the Kurds.   The overwhelming bipartisan vote was a rare public rebuke of Trump from his own party and comes as Trump tries to defend his much-criticized decision to pull out of Syria.

The resolution, which is largely symbolic, upbraids the withdrawal as “beneficial to adversaries of the United States government” including Russia, Syria, and Iran, and calls on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to immediately end unilateral military action in northern Syria.

But the fact that there was consensus on anything in this fractured, and too-often dysfunctional congress, is a fact that should not be overlooked or dismissed.  There has been a total lack of accountability registered from Republicans for any of the actions Trump has undertaken since his inauguration.  Without any threat of brakes on his, at times illegal and certainly unconstitutional behavior, it left him feeling emboldened to continue his reckless actions.

This blog has always been on the side of the Kurds, always a firm advocate for a process of governing that adheres to reason, facts, and logic, and always a believer that America must continue to play a robust role on the world stage.

When Trump did not follow a path of policy creation that made sense to international needs, undermined our allies, and severely diminished America before the world there is only one thing to do.  And that is a bi-partisn action of condemnation.

When congress can not agree on anything. from the immoral behavior of ripping children from the arms of mothers at the border to the callous disregard to gun violence, we can at least say there is one line that can not be crossed.

The Kurds and our Syrian policy are of such urgency that it made for allies of both conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans.  This unity is momentary, to be sure.  But, gosh, did it not feel nice for at least one day.

Congressmen Glenn Grothman vs. Adam Kinzinger Over Kurdish Slaughter

The measure of a person can be taken when there is clearly a right and wrong approach concerning a pressing issue.  The international crisis that has jarred the world following the military incursion by Turkey into Syria, all so the Kurds can be killed and removed, is such a moment to test a person’s character.

What Wisconsin Republican Glenn Grothaman offered as a tepid rejection of Donald Trump’s dangerous pullback of American forces in Syria, following the weak-kneed phone call at the White House to President Erdoğan, is most telling.

Presidential Debate America Watches

During an interview on Upfront the most strident line that could pass the lips of one of Trump’s lapdogs was “On the surface, I don’t like the decision”.

The news reports and analysis pieces must be written at too high a level for Grothman.  Instead, he will soak up the lines offered by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later this week in a briefing.  And then simply regurgitate them to the public.  No threat of ever using the congressman’s name and the term ‘leader’ in the same sentence.    Not only did Grothman undermine the Kurds with his feckless remark, but he also demonstrated he has no ability to act with any moral compass.  Who would not say precisely what needs to be heard at a time when ethnic cleansing is being threatened?

Well, that would be Glenn Grothman.

Meanwhile, another Republican Congressman also gave an interview this weekend.


Adam Kinzinger was on Face The Nation.  His words were the type that underscores what this man is made up of.

In fact, pulling back those fifty troops or whatever it was has given license to Turkey and then now I think pulling out the remaining thousand in Syria is simply an excuse to get out. Look at it this way. You hear the President and people like Rand Paul talk about endless wars all the time and it’s kitschy, but actually we were preventing an endless war. And– and that actually commenced on Sunday now a week ago and so it’s really depressing. And you know, for me as– as a guy that served in the military and really, got into politics because I believe in the role America plays, to see this, yet, again you know leaving an ally behind, abandoning people that we, frankly, told that we were going to be with is disheartening, depressing. 

When asked if Trump is putting U.S. national security at risk there was no equivocation.

Yes, I certainly I– I think so, yeah. And I mean look– look at what’s going to happen out of here. Now we have another group that now believes they can’t rely on the United States. Th– there’s a lot of complication in the Kurd situation and I’ve seen all this Russian misinformation now on the internet that’s being picked up by some of these political blogs that these are the bad Kurds and there’s good Kurds. Well, look, there are Kurds that aren’t– aren’t the best folks in the world. But there are also people that we have chosen to equip to fight ISIS that we were with. We had created a situation in which there was stability and out of an impulsive decision, I think that the President made– otherwise it was cold and calculated because he’d been thinking about it for a while and nobody else knew. The Kurds found out on Twitter for goodness sakes. We have left them to the wolves. And– and the message this is sending to our allies around the world I think it– is really going to be bad.

The character, or lack thereof, with two Republicans on display this weekend.

And so it goes.

Staggering American Disaster in Syria


Hevrin Khalaf, 35, was “taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish-backed mercenary factions”, the political arm of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement today.

The news is most troubling and devasting on a number of fronts.  For Syria as a whole, the Kurds who were our allies and now are being slaughtered, the lack of honor for America, along with the gift President Assad and President Putin has been given by Donald Trump.

Read this tweet from NBC News foreign correspondent Bill Neely.  It is a summation of the disaster taking place in Northeastern Syria, to Kurds, and Putin winning over the United States.

US Def. Sec. claims Turkey is ‘likely to expand its attack further South” than planned & that Kurds are trying to ally with Russia & Assad for help. US misled by 1 NATO ally & now its former ally is hooking up with Russia. Diplomatic failure, almost military humiliation.

The words are stunning due to the fact they reflect events happening today. Defense Secretary Esper made it known that Trump has ordered a withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria, a decision that will effectively cede control of the area to the Syrian government and Russia.

I know it makes no difference to the Trump supporters but for the rest who follow the news and care globally what is taking place matters a great deal.  Recall the U.S. military used our Air Force might to ensure, along with Kurdish support, that Daesh was not in control of the area.  All that effort and use of American might and financing have been tossed aside as if it were no more than an apple core.  One of those places we used our airpower was in Kobani.   Neely tweeted the following.

More reports that Syrian Army troops (that’s Pres. Assad’s forces) will enter Manbij and Kobani areas within 48 hours, by agreement with the Kurdish led forces of SDF.

And then this about an hour later from the above tweet.

If this is true, it would be a huge gain for Pres. Assad, to regain control of Kobani region up to Turkish border. As 100’s of US troops begin pulling out it’s a win for Russia & Iran too. @realDonaldTrump  decision a week ago has had major consequences.

It is galling to watch play out.

Again, let me be clear about a fact I know my readers are aware of.  But we must never forget it as we go about whatever plans await us the remainder of this weekend.  The Kurdish forces were key to breaking the Islamic State’s control of territory in Syria, effectively destroying its self-proclaimed caliphate.  As we go about watching football (not at this home!) or doing lawn chores (at this home) let us not forget people are being executed and removed from their village by force by Turkish forces.  A third of a million Kurds are fleeing today from their homes and villages.

All that shoulder-to-shoulder resolve the Kurds demonstrated for years was undermined.  Trump has repaid that Kurdish effort of blood and treasure by falling to his knees to appease his handler, President Putin.

It is disgraceful.

Kurds Need American Support, Congress Correct To Push Back On Trump White House

The news late last night was deeply concerning.  The rash decisions by the Trump White House regarding the Kurdish population within Syria was just another sign that someone is in over his head.  The Kurds have long been a concern at Caffeinated Politics.

Trump’s move to draw down troops in Syria, and the allowance of Turkish troops into Northern Syria which was announced Sunday night in a White House statement, opened him up to direct criticism from Republicans and Democrats.  The temperature is high, the blow-back severe.  And correctly so when it comes to supporting our allies in the war on terrorism.  Trump may not know recent history–or any for that matter–but the majority of Americans know that the positive actions Kurds have undertaken in Syria and Iraq.  That is why it is so gratifying to see the bi-partisan reaction.

In a joint statement, Senator Chris Murphy and Senator Mitt Romney said that they would seek to hold congressional hearings “as soon as possible” on Trump’s decision.

“Barring a reversal of this decision, the Administration must come before Congress and explain how betraying an ally and ceding influence to terrorists and adversaries is not disastrous for our national security interests,” the two senators said.

What concerns this blogger is our nation has someone in the Oval Office who has no idea of the situation in any part of the world.  There is no actual policy design. Anywhere. Solid information and wise advice are so lacking for this White House.

In February 2017 I made the point that the Kurds could not trust Trump.

For decades the Turkish government has made heavy-handed efforts to insure that Kurdish nationalism is rejected, even going so far at one time to ban the language.  The huge Kurdish population of the entire regional area that includes Iran and Syria, numbers roughly 30-50 million people, with roughly 20% of that total residing in Turkey.  The regions within Turkey where these people live are treated as second-class areas, and economically deprived.  As a result of a group fighting for broader rights, and in some cases actual separation from Turkey, was created.  The PKK has much support from the Kurds in Turkey, but the main desire from the people seems to be for social and economic betterment.

What we have witnessed over time is the continued ugly assaults on Kurds–be it the from Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies on one side, the Assad regime on the another, and of course from ISIS.  That latter despises the Kurds for being fairly secular, moderate and damn good fighters who are helping to roll back those who bastardize the Koran–better known as Islamic State.

Kurds rightly fear they are being betrayed by their Western allies.  With Trump in the White House, there is nothing to suggest that those feelings will not be vindicated.

In June 2007 I posted the following.

The Turkish government has made heavy-handed efforts to insure that Kurdish nationalism is rejected, even going so far as to ban the language until 1991.  The huge Kurdish population of the entire regional area that includes Iran and Syria, numbers roughly 30-50 million people, with 20% of that total residing in Turkey.  The regions within Turkey where these people live are treated as second-class areas, and economically deprived.  

The obvious powder keg has been there for many decades, but with the tumult in Iraq as the result of the Iraq War, and the fractious society that is now a reality, all make today’s events most alarming.  Add to the mix the statement by Turkish authorities that any confrontation with Iraqi Kurds would only trigger a larger cross border confrontation, and that should be more than enough to send alarm bells ringing in all sorts of diplomatic circles.

The dirty dealings, now between the illiberal government in Turkey headed by Erdoğan and the attempt to create an illiberal government by Trump in the United States, must not stand.  All in Congress, and across this land must ask why Trump is abandoning our long-standing allies so he can cozy up alongside world leaders who are authoritarian and do not have the best interests of our nation in mind.

The Kurds have been our allies, and now we must stand with them.

To hell with Donald Trump.

Process Matters–Syria Troop Pullout Another Example Of What Happens When Ground Rule Tossed Aside

More than any other issue or cause on this blog, the matter of process stands front and center, time and again, as being central to the operation of government.   I stress it over and over.

From the antics of my local neighborhood association, to the pure lunacy of the Donald Trump White House, there is no escaping that process matters.  When process gets undermined there is a mess to pick up.  Be it in relation to how matters come for a vote with the Marquette Neighborhood Association, or the lack of consultation in a formalized way prior to a major announcement about  troop withdrawals, there are clear consequences.  Whether it is the MNA president or the U.S. president it is not pretty when process is tossed aside for expediency.

Today Secretary of Defense Mattis resigned due to the undermining of the process that should have been used when it came time to address American troops in Syria.

What is shocking to me is that Trump did not coordinate the decision with his senior advisors.  If you follow international events in the daily newspapers then it is clear the likes of National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of State Jim Mattis all had issued statements recently declaring that the United States would stay in Syria to counter Iran.  It also goes without saying that there were other worthy political goals that made such a policy continuance all the more logical.

What happens when a process is so overtly attacked is that our allies now have even less reason to trust the advisors who speak for Trump, and even more importantly, for America.   Think about how our key allies like France and the Brits feel.  They too have troops in Syria–predicated on the fact America had their back.  Our allies were not told of the troop pullout!!

I get it that most Trump supporters have no deep care or understanding but such totally absurd, reckless, and dangerous moves such this one allows for allies to be reluctant to take on new risks in partnership with America.   That is bad news for international order.  Internationalists find that unacceptable.

With the adherence of an established process we could have at least shown respect for allies and pushed for promises from Turkey, and concessions from Iran.  All we have now is egg on our face, allies who are angry, and a future that is more cloudy than when we started the week.

“Mission Accomplished!” Is Not True For Syria

The one thing you can bet on today is that the Trump White House will not be talking about a policy imitative for Syria.  After taking the correct military response to President Assad’s government using chemical weapons Donald Trump stated over the weekend, “Mission Accomplished!”

Not even close!

No one ever thought Trump had seriously studied the Syrian problem or examined ways in which the United States or our allies might play a positive role in that troubled land.  But one might hope that he would have instructed others with skills and background to formulate some policy ideas.   As the months have passed one thing is clear.  There is no advancement with what Syria needs most–that being a road map to the future.

While I advocated for a strong response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons I also–again–called for policy moves to safeguard the people, and allow for talks that must include the status of Assad.    There must be free elections.  There must also be a process where the World Court can bring to justice those who have created so many horrific acts.

The Trump Administration  stated this weekend they hoped the action taken Friday night would allow for diplomacy to advance.  But also this weekend it was clear the White House was not about to offer new ideas about how that might happen.

So, there is no way that anyone can agree with using the words “Mission Accomplished!”