"The Federalist" commentator Mollie Hemingway discusses the president's decision to withdraw from Northern Syria during a panel discussion on FNC's "Media Buzz" with Gillian Turner and Ray Suarez, hosted by Howard Kurtz.
HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS: The media criticism of President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria, especially on the right, focused on abandonment of America's Kurdish allies and with Turkey continue to go bomb the region, dozens of Kurds reported to have been killed and 130,000 people have been displaced and the president defends on other grounds.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I campaigned on ending the endless wars. We are all over the world fighting wars, half of the places nobody knows what they're doing over there.
HOWARD KURTZ: Mollie, as you know, there is a whole slew of conservative journalists and commentators, and you have Lindsey Graham, Nikki Haley and other Republicans sharply criticizing the president on Syria, given the tremendous amount of suport they normally give Donald Trump, what do you make of this?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: I'm not sure I would agree that this caucus normally gives a tremendous amount of support to President Trump. I would say there's a grotesque of representation of a certain foreign policy approach in our pundit class and in our newspapers. Donald Trump did run on campaign to get out of Syria, he was elected to do that, there's a rejection of this will from the people to not have such entanglements and you see that so much in the newspapers and in our TV coverage.
President Obama, 16 times said we would never have boots on the ground in Syria, and yet Donald Trump gets elected saying he will get us out of the situation. We're 3 years into the presidency and it is finally happening, and you don't hear the voices articulating why that's important, why the American people want this.
HOWARD KURTZ: It is true that the president talked about endless wars recently, are the media and the foreign policy establishment here much more concerned about Syria and Turkey and the Kurds, let's just say, than most average voters?
RAY SUAREZ: Absolutely. That's one of the ways that the administration could move ahead with this policy. The president didn't win on green lighting our NATO ally Turkey invading Syria and being, perhaps in a direct confrontation with Russia. This is a mess. It is an open question whether the mess got any better in the last ten days. I don't think it did.
HOWARD KURTZ: I think we can agree it is a mess. Gillian, it has been reported by Fox and many other organizations that Pentagon was blindsided by the president's move, the Kurds certainly were; not a heads up to presidential allies like Lindsey Graham. The press seems almost as concerned with Trump's go-it-alone style than with the details of this geopolitical decision.
GILLIAN TURNER: The president is right when he says things like the U.S. has thousands of troops stationed across the world. And at this point, we don't know what they're doing anymore. Particularly in the Middle East, sometimes our military presence is actually working on cross purposes with our national security interest. The rub in this scenario is that a few thousand U.S. troops stationed on the Turkish-Syrian border, bolstering the Kurds, were not part of that group. We knew precisely what they were doing and they were successful for close to a decade. The idea that he would first laser in on those troops and bring those troops home when we have so many others that deserved to be looked at first doesn't make any sense.
HOWARD KURTZ: The president tweeted today, "Let them fight," meaning Turkey and the Kurds, but with the airstrikes and the video footage and reports of atrocities, is this breaking through more than a typical Washington fight over the budget or whatever?
GILLIAN TURNER: Absolutely, because there is an emotional toll here. The Turks killed many civilians on day one of their invasion into Turkey, including an infant, they have been attacking hospitals, they've actually been hitting close by the U.S. military installations on the ground, so the Turks have been disingenuous with President Trump and with everybody about what they're actually trying to achieve in that region -- an ethnic cleansing of the Kurds.
HOWARD KURTZ: NBC's Richard Engel, who is in my view a great reporter, said that President Trump's Syria decision is a "stain on history." Pure commentary, nobody blinks.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: We are seeing a lot of commentary from a lot of people instead of doing straight news. There's an avenue here, we don't have good purporting on the ground and that can make it hard and we are getting input and this is something we have seen across media outlets, we don't have good on the ground reporting on this. But it is also true that we need to have a much better discussion of what our aims are when we get involved in conflicts. We did not have the aim of defending this, you know, this particular group of YPG fighters in their battles with Erdogan.
GILLIAN TURNER: We did. We had a long-standing agreement with them for close to a decade and they were helping us wipe out ISIS.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: No, absolutely not. We had shared interest to take down the ISIS caliphate's military abilities and we accomplished that.
GILLIAN TURNER: We had a military alliance.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: And the American people -- yes, they found shared interest in defeating ISIS and that's what the American people understood, and they weren't even particularly supportive of that, and the idea that we would then change, move the goal posts, and have different agenda items there is not something that American people signed onto, and if they want that they should say that is what they want and get the American people to sign off on it.
GILLIAN TURNER: The goal post didn't move is the point.
RAY SUAREZ: One missing word in all of this coverage is "again," abandoning the Kurds again. We did it in the early '90s in the end of the first Gulf War, that's what's boiling some of the foreign policy circles in Washington.