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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

When Trump Acts - Does He Really Think?

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 04/07/17 13:06

by Dave Mindeman

There is one more thing about Syria that needs to be said.

The Obama administration was, and continues to be, criticized for not acting in 2013 during Assad's last chemical strike. The problem with that criticism is that too many Republicans think of military action as a response with no consequence. Obama and his advisers met constantly to go over the many scenarios that are involved in this complicated region. They would discuss what each country would do in the case of a strike and weighed the matter very carefully.

When the opportunity to get rid of Assad's chemical weapons via a Russian initiative presented itself, Obama took that option over the complications of a military intervention. He was not wrong - even though the Russians and Syrians lied about the end product.

Trump has acted quickly. Maybe too quickly. Because now we have to watch the reactions from these nations with very little background thought on what that can mean.

We already have one consequence as Russia pulls out of the air strike notification agreement. This has dangerous implications of Russia-US confrontations in the air. And it also reduces leverage we might have when, and if, political talks begin on a resolution in Syria.

I still think this strike was probably an appropriate response to the Syrian gas attack. Something did have to happen.

But what I do not have confidence in, is that Trump weighed the consequences carefully before acting. This is not a business deal where everything is nicely laid out in a written contract. This has far reaching implications that can manifest themselves in unforeseen ways.

And the world is still a very dangerous place.
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A Measured Response From An Impulsive President

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 04/07/17 08:29, Edited: 04/07/17 08:33

by Dave Mindeman

I have to say that Trump's cruise missile strike on Syria was a measured, appropriate response. Which is atypical of any Trump action.

The quick action has all the hallmarks of being the planned activity of President Obama when he was contemplating action in 2013. In fact, it may be the very same plan.

Obama did not act - and Trump allies are making a big deal out of that comparison. The net result in Trump world is: Obama = weak. Trump = Strong.

But there are a few caveats to this which are somewhat curious. Trump was very careful to limit this action. He warned Russia in advance (which is the same as warning Assad), so that human casualties would be minimized. This was carefully set up and that is also atypical of Trump. The target was an airfield where the chemical weapons were supposedly deployed. There is no hint in this that policy toward Assad has fundamentally changed - in other words, no regime change.

(Something else worth noting: An airfield strike was exactly what Hillary Clinton had publicly talked about and suggested at a forum several hours before the Trump action.)

This was not the impulsive Trump we are used to seeing. It, hopefully, indicates that Trump is finally listening to the experts in the field and will start being more careful in the kind of actions he takes. His speech about the strike was worded carefully and delivered without the usual "extra" comments given off the cuff.

Another issue that was glossed over is that Syria was not supposed to have any more chemical weapons in their possession. The 2013 agreement which the Russians were partners to, had a Russian guarantee in it that indicated Russia would oversee the chemical weapon destruction. There were a number of items destroyed, but only Assad and Russia could attest to the completeness of the accounting.

Obviously, Assad and Russia both lied in their reports.

So, where does this go from here? Does Trump follow up with Russia and demand that they explain the discrepancy? Does the US military stand down now and wait for reaction? Is Assad now a target or is he allowed to continue his conventional weapons destruction of his own country?

This opens up a new realm of uncertainty. This initial action can be considered a success and appropriate action.

Now we will see what's next.
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