Friday, June 9, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He contradicted the Pentagon and the State Department on the subject of Qatar.

At an appearance with the president of Romania, Trump once again claimed that the recent diplomatic and trade sanctions leveled by some Persian Gulf nations against Qatar were the result of his own personal intervention. Trump claimed that he "decided, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, our great generals, and military people, the time has come to call on Qatar to end its funding." He called the blockade of Qatar (which gets most of its food by truck through Saudi Arabia, the only country it borders) "hard but necessary."

An hour earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said this:
"We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar. There are humanitarian consequences to this blockade. We are seeing shortages of food, families are being forcibly separated, and children pulled out of school. We believe these are unintended consequences, especially during this Holy Month of Ramadan, but they can be addressed immediately. The blockade is also impairing U.S. and other international business activities in the region and has created a hardship on the people of Qatar and the people whose livelihoods depend on commerce with Qatar. The blockade is hindering U.S. military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS."
The "great generals and military people" were also apparently unaware of what Trump believed they'd "decided" on. Referring to the fact that Qatari air bases host 11,000 American troops and serve as the launching point for most American operations in the Middle East, a Pentagon spokesperson said that "while current operations from Al Udeid Air Base have not been hindered or curtailed, the evolving situation is hindering our ability to plan for longer-term military operations.”

Why does this matter?

  • A president who cannot get on the same page with his military and his diplomatic corps about which side of a major international dispute the United States is on is incompetent.