No one is left to restrain Trump

Examples are piling up that suggest the yes-men have taken over. When Jim Mattis was secretary of defense, he repeatedly stymied various cockamamie plans by the White House. For instance, in his new book, Guy Snodgrass, who served as a speechwriter and communications director to Mattis, reveals that Trump asked him to “screw Amazon” out of a $10 billion contract for cloud computing. Mattis reportedly said “We’re not going to do that. This will be done by the book—both legally and ethically.” By coincidence perhaps, under Secretary of Defense Mark Esper the contract was awarded to Microsoft, not Amazon. Esper also “found” money for Trump’s border wall by raiding funds from a vital mission in Europe to deter Russia, and said that Europeans needed to do more to defend themselves.

Trump is now making policy on the fly, with little or no process or consultation. He decision to pull U.S. troops out of Kurdish held regions in Syria and greenlight an invasion by Turkey was perhaps the most catastrophic foreign-policy move of his presidency to date. This decision gave ISIS a new lease of life, gave away any leverage the United States might have had in negotiations with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and enhanced Russian influence in the Middle East. After outrage from Congress, Trump then backed punitive sanctions on Turkey for taking steps that he had personally endorsed.

The Syria decision is the rule, not the exception, as is the willingness of Trump’s cabinet to go along with whatever he says, even when he reverses himself over night.

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