Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He explained the situation in Syria as only he can.

Normally, presidential meeting with sports teams (when they happen at all) are not political. Today, however, Trump interrupted himself during a visit by the Stanley Cup-winning St. Louis Blues to try to explain his lack of response to the actions Turkey has taken in Syria since he gave them permission to invade last Sunday.

TRUMP: We want to bring our soldiers back home. And we're being very tough on Turkey and a lot of others. They have to maintain their own properties now. They have to maintain peace and safety. And we'll see what happens -- the delegation. We're asking for a ceasefire. We put the strongest sanctions that you can imagine, but they get a lot. We have a lot in store if they don’t -- if they don’t have an impact, including massive tariffs on steel. They ship a lot of steel to the United States. They make a lot of money shipping steel. They won't be making so much money.

American purchases of Turkish steel account for about three one-thousandths of the overall Turkish export market. What Trump has done so far—or rather, what he has threatened to do but not yet done—is to make that 0.3% more expensive for American consumers, which may force Turkish steelmakers to sell some of it elsewhere at slightly reduced profits.

This is no threat whatsoever to the Turkish economy, and the markets responded accordingly: the Turkish lira actually gained value against the dollar today.

In other Syrian news from today, Russian mercenary forces took over a base that American troops were forced to hastily abandon in order to try to find a safe retreat from the now-chaotic northern region. It may be the first time in history, including the Soviet era, that Russian forces have ever directly captured a military base from the United States military. Russian media arrived first and broadcast their arrival.

Trump is deeply financially entangled with both Turkey and Russia.

So what?

  • Calling this "the strongest sanctions that you can imagine" is just an outright lie.
  • It shouldn't be this hard to make sense of a president's military decisions.
  • The most likely explanation for a president's military decisions shouldn't have anything to do with his private financial situation.