By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

1. The headlines of betrayal

Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: We are witnessing the most conspicuous betrayal in the history of American foreign policy unfold before our eyes. It all began with a phone call eight days ago between President Trump and Turkey President Erdogan, and now there is chaos, panic, war crimes, and an unfathomable power realignment. Here are the headlines in today's HPI Daily Wire: "Trump's called bluff kicked off Kurd fiasco" ... "Abandoned Kurds cut deal with Assad" ... "Sec. Esper defends Syrian pullout" ... "Esper confirms larger Syrian U.S. pullout" ... "Mattis says ISIS will resurge after betrayal" ... "Rep. Kinsinger says U.S. could have prevented Turkish assault" ... "Trump readies Turkey sanctions" ... "Green Berets 'ashamed' of Kurd betrayal" .... Whew.

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun to the Terre Haute Tribune-Star: “I am going to be in the camp that I think we need to be less engaged to the extent than we have been in the past. When President Trump said, ‘Hey, our allies shoulder more of the burden,’ help pay for stuff, help be responsible. It doesn’t mean we don’t do things smartly and we don’t lead. I think we can do both of them. On one side of the aisle almost in its entirety, and a good part of the Republican side, doesn’t put into perspective how much things cost. I don’t think we can be the policeman of the world. We should lead, but we should do it in a way that is sustainable.” And Sen. Todd Young to WIBC: The abandonment of allies a "very bad precedent." He says President Trump deserves credit for trying to keep a campaign promise to bring American troops home. But he says the pullout in Syria was not only "imprudent," but a surprise. 

Folks, I can't believe what I am seeing and hearing here. We have stabbed an ally that lost 11,000 soldiers to defeat ISIS in our behalf in the back, and now many of the imprisoned ISIS fighters are breaking out of custody as the Kurds defend themselves and cut new alliances. Those fighters, and, perhaps, a flood of refugees will be heading to Europe. This is an astounding geopolitical calamity.

2. Buttigieg on Syrian betrayal

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been skeptical of "forever wars" in the Middle East. In fact, he fought in one. But he told CNN's "State of the Union" the Syrian decision is a blunder. "Often if mean making sure we do our part to stabilize or help keep the peace so that full-blown conflicts don't break out," Buttigieg explained. "This isn't even a strategy or a policy. It is the president systematic destroying American alliances and values. That makes the country worse off." 

3. Presidential South Bend

First, South Bend had a presidential candidate in Mayor Pete. Now it will be the epicenter of the political world when Notre Dame hosts the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020 at the Joyce Center. “The world's attention will be on us and on this region. Our democracy so badly needs a place where we can have serious conversations," Rev. John Jenkins, the university's president, said on Friday. "We always welcome leaders from the various parties ... so we can have serious conversations about the issues that confront us. Presidential debates are a sacred moment in our democracy." Imagine if the stars some how, some way align, and Mayor Pete can walk from his home to debate President Trump on his home turf.

4. Big week for Mayor Pete

The Democratic presidential candidates - a dozen of them this time - debate at 8 p.m. Tuesday Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, on CNN. The New York Times reports that Mayor Pete Buttigieg is tied with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the number of Iowa field offices, both with 22. The ground game is the "backbone" of successful presidential campaigns.

5. Holcomb lauds teacher pay hikes

Gov. Eric Holcomb is encouraged by local teacher pay increases that he believes are due to moves he and the General Assembly made with the biennial budget passed last spring. Last week, Richmond teachers received a $3,000 base pay raise, while there was a 4% increase for Carmel Clay teachers. Carmel teachers also received a $25,000 increase in life insurance and a new leave agreement for foster parents. "I'm encouraged by reports that school districts are increasing teacher pay with the additional dollars the state provided with the historic increase in K-12 tuition support and the $150 million used to pay down teacher pension liability," Holcomb told HPI over the weekend. "Collective bargaining is still underway and I hope to hear more of these positive reports." 

Have a great week, folks. It's
The Atomic!