If you approach your spouse with a problem, the least effective way to address it is to tell her everything she is doing wrong and ask her to fix it. You start with understanding her perspective, reiterating and appreciating it and then while relating to what is important to her, make the case for addressing the problem in a way that works for both. Unfortunately, all of those pundits sharing advice publicly and perhaps privately, on how to deal with the Middle East and particularly the Kurdish situation, do not appear to understand that approach.
We understand that the President cares deeply about every soldier overseas and their families. We can see that when a soldier is killed and the body comes home and he meets with the families. We understand that he doesn’t want to see another horrific Beirut killing of US soldiers. We understand that America’s interests clearly must be on the line for him to put US servicemen in harm’s way. We understand that he sees the Sunni- Shiite conflict across the Middle East as a never-ending Hatfield and McCoy situation – writ large, without a happy ending any time in the foreseeable future. We understand that he has ripped up the Iran nuclear deal and remains committed to keeping them from getting a nuclear weapon. He also understands they are continuing to sponsor terrorism around the world. We understand that he sees the world as motivated chiefly by economics (for which some would have disagreements). Finally, we understand that he has maintained a strong tie to Israel for American economic, security and spiritual reasons.
For those of us highly concerned about the situation with the Kurds, and the President’s recent action, let’s start with acknowledging that his instincts and assessments have some validity. The let’s make the case for maintaining American involvement based on an appreciation of his starting point and values. I would leave it to the advisors to make the logical connections with American interests, connections between Turkey and Iran and the funding of terror, importance for America to have a reputation as dependable, problematic scenarios moving forward from America’s perspective, etc. and take it from there. But it would be wise to start with an understanding and appreciation his and his team’s core understanding and stated values and then attempt to influence and steer the ship in that direction.