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Trump The Phony

TAC’s Robert Merry — whose 2005 foreign policy book The Sands Of Empireyou really must read — lets the White House have it over its Syria warmaking. Excerpts:

It may be too early to tell for sure, but Donald Trump is looking more and more like a phony. He’s also looking like a weakling. And a political ingrate. All this is coming into stark relief with accelerating events involving Syria. The United States launched dozens of missiles against Syrian military installations to retaliate for the chemical attack on rebel-held territory. Thus did Trump demonstrate that, to the extent that his foreign policy differs from that of his predecessor, it is more aggressive and adventuresome than Obama’s. That’s the opposite of how he campaigned.


We are now reading that the conventional thinkers and the establishment denizens of the Trump administration are decimating the administration people who were with him during his campaign, when he devastated the conventional thinkers and establishment denizens who now are taking over his administration. In domestic policy, perhaps the stakes aren’t so high; the biggest loser is likely to be Trump himself. But in foreign policy the stakes are immense, and the loser could be the entire country.

How does one account for these signs that Trump’s governance is going to be significantly at variance with his campaign advocacy? It’s difficult to resist the suspicion that some of it has to do with a lack of conviction. He’s winging it—and has been since he descended that famous Trump Tower escalator in June 2015. And yet he talked as if he were a man of ironclad conviction, someone whose words presage his actions. In politics, when words and actions don’t mesh, we call that phoniness.

Read the whole thing. It’s the best commentary I’ve yet read anywhere on the president’s shocking action against Syria.

Trump really is a phony, isn’t he? He gave President Obama hell for contemplating attacking Syria over the 2013 chemical weapons assault by the Assad regime. Look at all these past Trump tweets against US involvement in the Syrian war.  Assuming this latest gas attack was Assad’s, he did nothing this time that he didn’t do before. So why has Trump now committed an act of war on a sovereign nation, risking a much greater conflict with Russia?

So much for our non-interventionist new president. Yep, he’s winging it. It took Trump less than three months in office to break one of his core campaign promises: that he would not involve the United States in these unnecessary regional wars, especially not in Syria.

Presidents can change their minds. Presidents learn things in office that they did not know as campaigners. But Trump flipped so quickly on Syria, with no new information that would have impelled such a drastic shift. So, who’s he going to sell out next? The Chrsitian Vladimirs and Estragons waiting for him to issue that expected religious liberty Executive Order?


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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