The Last Week Tonight host dedicated the main segment of his program to Trump’s actions in Syria—abandoning our Kurdish allies and allowing dictators Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin to carve up the territory as they see fit—which have not only destabilized the region but led to the escape of at least 100-plus ISIS prisoners captured by the Kurds.
“It’s true: over a hundred ISIS prisoners escaped, and we don’t know where they are,” said Oliver. “And the thing is: It gets even worse here. Because when you give a green light to an authoritarian, terrible things can happen—and terrible things very much did.”
Oliver then aired a video of a Turkish militia cheerily executing a Kurd by a roadside in Syria. “That is horrifying, a potential war crime, and completely, completely avoidable. Yet astonishingly, even in the face of scenes like that—and over a hundred civilian deaths—Trump has tried to spin the carnage as evidence of his tactical genius,” Oliver explained.
He threw to a video of Trump at a rally proclaiming, “Sometimes you have to let them fight. It’s like two kids in a lot: You got to let them fight, and then you pull them apart.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?! You weird monster!” exclaimed Oliver.
“I know that it is so easy to criticize anyone’s policy in this region. It is very complicated; any move is going to have ripple effects, intended or otherwise. Syria was one of the biggest problem spots in Obama’s foreign policy,” the comedian continued. “But it’s genuinely hard to get it this wrong. We took a fundamentally stable situation, betrayed a strategically vital ally, and immensely damaged our reputation.”
The HBO host aired a clip of Kurdish civilians throwing potatoes and cursing at a U.S. military convoy leaving Syria.
“Look, the more you look at all of this, the more worrying it gets—because 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,” said Oliver. “So imagine what he might do in a crisis not of his own making? That is one of the many terrifying things of the prospect of a second term, or indeed, the remaining year of this first one, because there is nothing more dangerous than someone with a massive amount of power, a dictator fetish, and an inability to think in anything other than transactional terms.”