Thursday, April 6, 2017

Explaining Trump's Reversal On Syria

After the horrific chemical gas attacks in Syria, pictured in media across the world, calls for action against the brutal and criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad and his complicit weapons supplier Russia were heard. The heartbreaking images of the lifeless bodies of small children being loaded on to trucks were searing and an outrage to humanity. The administration of Putin loyalist and unstable tweeter Donald "Rump" Trump, after stating that deposing Assad's regime was not a U.S. policy just days ago (and likely green-lighting the attacks), has ostensibly had a change of heart toward the Russian-backed regime in Syria. His UN Ambassador Nicky Haley gave perhaps the most vigorous condemnation of Syria (and their Russian benefactor) at the UN Security Council. But, as David Shariatmadari writes in the Guardian, Rump's newly-discovered conscience after years of Syrian war crimes is more disturbing than heartening, as it has its origin in his pathological narcissism:
"Those celebrating the possibility of a shift should ask how it may have come about. If there’s one thing we do know, it’s that Trump wants us to see that he cares. This is a president who is obsessed with how he is perceived, griping about unflattering photos and the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

It’s not even clear that he has any ideological aims, other than to win, and to be liked. He has, after all, donated to both Republicans and Democrats. He supported the Iraq war, then didn’t, then claimed that he never had. When Americans become conscious of an atrocity – despite the fact that it might be the latest in a long line of atrocities, many of which didn’t make the morning news – he can’t help but respond." (emphasis added)
This is the real-world consequence of electing an unstable and unfit sociopath to the highest office, who reacts to world events only through the prism of his own damaged ego. His about-face on how to deal with Syria during his campaign and until recently demonstrates his shallowness and lack of attention. Shariatmadari continues:
"Perhaps the instant praise won by his UN ambassador prodded him into action. Regardless, the conclusion must be that any Syria “pivot” has its roots in Trump’s approval-seeking personality, his proneness to being thrown off course by media coverage, his shallowness of purpose. This is why, rather than being reassuring, his sudden discovery of his conscience on Syria is profoundly disturbing. Major strategic decisions should not be made like this. Of course, Trump may simply sabre-rattle for a bit, then quieten down. But he might instead want a show of force. That could involve cratering a few runways, or something far more muscular. But these are decisions with consequences that would last far longer than the president’s attention span." (emphasis added)
Syria may be the lesser of our country's worries, with nuclear-armed North Korea's provocative missile launches and bellicose rhetoric bringing us to the brink of confrontation or even hostilities. It's a situation for a steady, knowledgable, and experienced hand in the White House, and Rump is not a person that remotely fits that description.

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