President Donald Trump is now suggesting the coming (?) attack on Syria may not be as soon as people think.
Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2018
This is a bit of a switch from 24 hours ago when Trump tweeted “get ready Russia,” and 72 hours after he said, “big decisions,” were going to be made about U.S. response. It does fall in line with comments by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders suggesting all options were on the table. The final decision probably won’t be made until the National Security Council meets today. Great Britain has a similar meeting scheduled.
It will be interesting to see if both countries will speak with French President Emmanuel Macron, who claimed earlier today to have proof Bashar al-Assad is behind the chemical attack in Syria. Macron was hesitant on suggesting if France would start bombing Syria, only noting to the press he’s been talking to Trump every day this week. Macron also appears to be hedging on whether any attack should happen (via France 24).
France will in no way allow an escalation or anything that would harm regional stability, but we cannot allow regimes that believe they can act with impunity to violate international law in the worst possible way.
One country which will not be involved in any strike is Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters today there was no plan for German forces to hit Assad, even though she also thinks the evidence is clear he used chemical weapons. Merkel did note they’d be willing to “assist” allies, just not with the military.
So why all the confusion about Trump’s tweets? It’s completely possible he’s doing his own spin on Richard Nixon’s Madman Theory of trying to keep everyone guessing what he does next. Here’s how H.R. Haldeman described it:
We were walking along a foggy beach after a long day of speechwriting. He said, “I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll just slip the word to them that, for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about Communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry — and he has his hand on the nuclear button — and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.”
Who know if it will work or if Trump is actually using this theory. Given his propensity to switch his opinion on policy so quickly (see the entire “due process” comments on guns, which he backtracked on a couple days later), it’s possible Trump is in favor of military strikes, but backed down a bit because someone got in his ear and suggested it wasn’t a good idea to announce an attack before it happened. It’s also possible Trump was just blustering to get a rise out of Syria/Russia/Iran to see what they might do. It might not be a smart move, but it could also fall back into the Madman Theory idea. There still needs to be a vote in Congress whether the U.S. goes to war, since that’s in the Constitution, but it’s doubtful that’ll happen given past precedent and Congress’ abdication of power to the executive. The vote should still take place.
My opinion on more involvement in Syria hasn’t changed since 2013: we shouldn’t do anything militarily about the chemical weapons attack because it’s not our business. I wrote Sunday Assad wasn’t a threat to the United States, and as horribly awful the chemical weapons attack was, Syria is in the middle of a civil war. The Western involvement in the civil war has actually destabilized the area even more, and caused more problems. It helped ISIS’ rise, escalated further the entire refugee crisis in Europe, and probably prolonged the civil war itself. The U.S. shouldn’t be Team America: World Police, and there are limits to military might. It’s time to end our military involvement in Syria, and get out.