Both tried to escalate their way out of an apparent quagmire. After a war-weary electorate dismissed Republicans from power in Congress in November 2006, Bush did the opposite of what was expected and ordered “the surge” of additional troops to Iraq. Today, some Republicans say that act helped the U.S. avoid defeat in the war; in truth, as the rise of ISIS eventually made clear, it simply helped buy a little time in the face of a disaster that still haunts Iraqis today.
Similarly, despite ample evidence that China won’t yield to his demands — including billions of dollars spent compensating American farmers for lost trade — Trump has continued to raise tariffs, with only occasional, quickly reversed signs he is willing to back down.
All of which raises again the question posed at the outset of the Iraq War by a famous general: “Tell me how this ends?” In both cases, there is no clear or satisfying answer apparent.