Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got confused about which side of the civil war in Syria he was on.

Appearing at a joint press conference with leaders of Baltic nations, Trump declared his eagerness to withdraw the US military from Syria, saying, "I want to get back, I want to rebuild our nation. It's time. We were very successful against ISIS, we'll be successful against anybody militarily, but sometimes it's time to come back home."

This came as news to US military commanders, one of whom had only minutes earlier declared, "We are in Syria to fight ISIS. That is our mission. Our mission is not over. And we are going to complete that mission." Trump has recently alarmed American military leaders with his lack of focus on their campaigns, to the point that some were willing to speak to the press about their concerns--a breach of military decorum almost unheard of before Trump became commander-in-chief.

Trump's plan to pull out of Syria has been welcome news for Russia, which supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad. This makes it the de facto opponent of the United States, although the two nations have tried to avoid coming into direct conflict with one another in Syria. Nevertheless, a US withdrawal at this stage would essentially give the Putin regime a permanent foothold in the Middle East.

On the subject of Russia, Trump also said this today: "Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than I have. Everyone agrees when they think about it."

Why is this a problem?

  • Presidents who cannot get on the same page with their own military commanders about military strategy are unfit to serve as commander-in-chief.
  • It is astonishingly bad if military leaders feel they have to go through the press to get the attention of the president.