The public performance of President Trump and his team responding to their first major foreign policy challenge hardly inspires confidence.
Just days before the strike, Trump and his close associates all stated that Syria’s civil war was no longer a major US concern.
Sensing the political fallout following the chemical attack, Trump backtracked and launched missile strikes to a largely abandoned hanger. According to the London Guardian, the White House contacted Russia to give them a “heads up” of the impending strikes. Let us hope “mission accomplished doesn’t morph into mission creep. As a footnote, Trump personally profited from Raytheon’s sudden surge in stock value. The missile strike harkens memories of the disasters wars in Vietnam and Iraq, which started in much the same way.
The missile strike also raises troubling questions of their legality. According to the US Constitution the president may only take unilateral action, without Congressional approval, if there is an imminent threat to the US. This is an extremely dangerous precedent. Let us remember one strike does not make a strategy. If Trump’s compassionate genes have finally kicked in he should immediately lift the travel ban on Syrian refugees – otherwise his actions will be interpreted as self-serving.
The temptation to unleash America’s awesome war machine is both seductive and addictive and extremely dangerous in the hands of Trump who operates more on impulse than intellect. What is urgently required is the application of soft power not mighty hammers.