Trump Just Contradicted Everything He’s Ever Said About Syria Through Last Monday
It’s amazing how some pundits are willing to change their view of Trump 180 degrees because he launched a few cruise missiles.
No president who starts wars can be all bad. #analysis
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) April 7, 2017
Jennifer Rubin now thinks this could be Trump’s reset moment:
On Day 77 of his presidency, Trump’s decision to strike Syria, whether he understood it or not, provided him with the rare opportunity to reset his presidency. He has the chance to bring to a close a horrendously unsuccessful start to his presidency marked by scandal, missteps and a stunning loss of confidence among allies and the American people. The question is whether he has the will, discipline and insight to make a sharp about-face. Stay tuned.”
But take one of her questions:
“Does Trump’s military action and Russia’s infuriating reaction (denying chemical weapons use, standing by Assad) eradicate Trump’s affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his vision of some sort of grand bargain wherein the great powers would carve out spheres of influence?”
But what about Russia’s interference on Trump’s behalf during election? Surely Trump will remain grateful for that.
The trouble is this: Trump lacks credibility. Russia interfered in our election on his behalf. The FBI has an ongoing investigation into whether Trump coordinated with that interference. It didn’t stop the investigation after Trump launched a few cruise missiles.
Trump is also a pathological liar. He got into our politics by birther slander. His win was tainted and tarnished by Comey and Putin.
But even putting all this aside for the moment, he has just taken action in Syria that stands 180 degrees from everything he’s ever said about Syria and Assad previously.
Think about that. Surely the motivation is relevant. Evidently he was so moved by pictures he saw on Fox News. Note that there have pictures like this coming out of Syria for years. When Assad launched a much more serious chemical attack on the Syrian people in 2013, Trump told Obama not to attack and that he was wrong to draw a ‘red line’ in the first place.
But now the deaths of far fewer have suddenly clicked something for him? None of this makes any sense. David Frum:
“When the Electoral College elevated Donald Trump to the presidency, it conferred on him the awesome life-and-death powers that attend the office. It was inevitable that President Trump would use those powers sooner or later. Now he has. For the effects on the region, I refer you to the powerful piece by The Atlantic’s Andrew Exum. I’m concerned here with the effects on the U.S. political system. Seven seem most immediately relevant.”
Trump’s Words Mean Nothing
“If there was any one foreign policy position that Donald Trump stressed above all others, it was opposition to the use of force in Syria. Time has helpfully compiled Trump’s tweets on the subject dating back to 2013.”
Clearly Trump’s words mean nothing. At least as far as being a guide to either the truth or what he may or may not do in the future. Which means what he’s saying now about seeing a beautiful baby slaughtered must also be discounted.
Of course, David Frum is a Bushie. I wasn’t a fan of W either and was opposed to the Iraq War. I also think the war was sold dishonestly. But at least it wasn’t a surprise. By the time the war started in early 2003, it’d been a topic of public debate for 15 months.
It was very clear for a long time that W and his neocons-including Frum-wanted to go in and finish the job on Saddam they felt his father had failed to finish.
Trump’s ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion comparatively is much more worrisome. How can we have a Commander in Chief for whom we can’t have a shred of trust in?
There are a lot of questions we need answers for, but this is first: what is really going on here? Wag the dog?
I think part of it may also be that Bannon may be on the way out.
As Frum points out, Trump is going it alone here. No attempt to reach consensus with allies before doing this. Unlike Obama in 2013 who got spooked after David Cameron was shot down by Parliament in joining Obama in Syria.
Then there’s Congress. Frum notes:
“The secret of our success in government is that we did not have us in opposition.” That quip from a friend in an allied government applies with even greater force to the Republican Party of the United States. Trump’s action has gained support from Democrats that was never available to Obama from Republicans. In the fall of 2013, even the hawkish Marco Rubio—who had long called for action in Syria against Assad—nevertheless opposed Obama’s request for authorization to do just that. Rubio’s explanation focused on the flaws in Obama strategy and commitment. “I remain unconvinced that the use of force proposed here will work … I believe that U.S. military action of the type contemplated here will prove counterproductive.”
“Rubio’s points surely had some validity. Surely they apply even more forcefully today—yet Democrats from Chuck Schumer to Nancy Pelosi to even Elizabeth Warren have offered support for Trump’s actions. Pelosi praised the action as “proportional.” Schumer went further still: “Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do.”
“Unlike Rubio, who understood that viability in the coming Republican presidential contest required absolute opposition to any action by Obama, Democrats operate in a more permissive environment—at least for now. If any further proof is required of the asymmetry of the two parties, here it is.”
Democrats need to find a spine.
This comment by Frum though worries you in a way:
“Military force has been deployed. Whers’s the plan for victory? What’s even the definition of victory? Absent and absent. What Trump has done is the kind of military action famously derided by George W. Bush as firing a $2 million missile into a $10 tent and hitting a camel in the butt. Trump’s strike was symbolic and demonstrative, not decisive. It signaled, but did not compel. It leaves the Syrian and Russian leadership an array of options about how to respond—and it may well have committed the United States to potential next steps that the president did not imagine and does not intend.”
Does Trump intend this to be a one and done? There will be hawks arguing that he needs to ‘finish the job he started.’
This is the trouble with the notion of ‘leverage.’ Even a lot of Obama alums were praising Trump’s strike yesterday. They say it gives us ‘leverage.’ Some of Obama’s own advisers think he through away America’s leverage.
But can this leverage remain from one shot into an empty airport? Or to maintain leverage you have to do more? After all, at some point your adversary calls your bluff.
Speaking of Obama alums:
“Obama should have done this four years ago when the problem was easier. History will judge him harshly because he didn’t,” said Jane Harman, a former Democratic congresswoman from California who is now director of the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank.”
“We have to depersonalize this. Some people don’t like Trump, so they’re upset that he did this,” she added. “If a policy is right, congratulate those who are carrying it out.”
Uh, no and no. I don’t trust Trump and he has no credibility. He just did something that is diametrically opposed to everything he ever said about Syria.
If that doesn’t matter-if his words don’t matter-then we truly our through the Looking Glass.
To be frank: I’d trust this action much more if done by President Obama or-President Hillary Clinton. But then their words bear some relation to their actions.
Trump is also the beneficiary of Russian interference and may or may not be complicit-per an FBI investigation. Surely it makes a difference whether the Commander in Chief launching bombs in our name is legitimate or not. Surely, that’s not just a detail.
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
There is nothing more important in getting answers to Trump-Russia collusion than a Democratic House in 2019. Please donate to help me in my part of the effort to fight for a Dem House.
Thank you. We must have a Dem House. And so, we will