Is this the first angry tweet he’s posted about Putin? Gotta be the first in which he’s singled him out by name for criticism.
It’s strange to me that POTUS’s refrain all week has been that we have no business in Syria apart from finishing off ISIS and need to be out in six months, then Assad uses chemical weapons and suddenly he and his Russian allies need to pay a “big price.” What does POTUS think will happen in areas controlled by the U.S. and Kurds if we withdraw and Team Assad moves in? Those areas will be be specially targeted for WMD attacks to show the locals how ruthless the Shiites will be if they don’t submit and to taunt the United States for abandoning the territory. If Trump’s going to freak out every time Assad crosses a red line by “throwing a little gas,” he’s a fool to pull out. It’ll happen again.
Two possibilities for his Jekyll-and-Hyde approach to Syria. One: He thinks it’s important to reinforce the international taboo against WMDs. If Assad wants to kill half a million people with conventional arms, well, war is war. If he wants to kill a few hundred with gas, that’s over the line because it expands the universe of acceptable methods of mass murder and mainstreams munitions that might be used by terrorists against American civilians. Two: Obama infamously whiffed the first time Assad used chemical weapons in 2013 and Trump’s determined not to show Obama-esque weakness. That topic was on his mind this morning, in fact.
A U.S. strike five years ago might have deterred further use of WMDs but it wouldn’t have toppled Assad and might have dragged the U.S. into a more active role in the war — which is what citizen Trump was afraid of. Remember?
I wonder if it’s occurred to him that one reason why gas was used in Douma yesterday is *because* he announced his intent to withdraw. With his frenemy Russia and a nominal U.S. ally in Turkey now behind the regime, Assad may be calculating that Trump won’t do much of anything about this latest dancing across the red line except bluster. Even if POTUS reprises his course of action last year by bombing an airfield, Team Assad will happily absorb that so long as the U.S. withdrawal continues. If that was Assad’s assumption, though, that he could “spike the football” over a U.S. withdrawal by launching a new gas attack, it’s awfully stupid: Given how mercurial Trump is and how perpetually anxious he seems about being viewed as “weak,” he could change his mind about withdrawal tomorrow because of this. Even if Assad’s not smart enough to understand that you would think that his patron Putin is and would lay down a “no WMDs until the U.S. is out” rule.
By the way, Drew McCoy is right about this:
The pivot from "Trump won't call out Putin by name" to "Trump's bellicose personal attacks on Putin are going to get us all killed" will be magnificent. https://t.co/Ii301sFZro
— Drew McCoy (@_Drew_McCoy_) April 8, 2018
Our media is famously mercurial too. Depending on what Trump does to respond to the Douma attack, we could see the press pivot to “Trump’s being recklessly confrontational towards Putin!” by the end of the week. Whatever it takes to score a political point on him.
Here’s Grahamnesty via the Free Beacon doing his usual talking points: Withdrawal is a mistake and Trump’s tough talk needs to be backed up with action. “If it becomes a tweet without meaning,” he said of POTUS’s “big price” message this morning, “then he’s hurt himself on North Korea. If he doesn’t follow through and live up to that tweet, he’s going to look weak in the eyes of Russia and Iran.” He knows which buttons to push. Exit question: Obama’s consolation prize from Putin for not bombing Assad in 2013 was a disarmament deal in which Assad supposedly agreed to give up his chemical weapons. Last night he used chemical weapons in Douma. Are Democrats ready to admit that O got rolled?