The suddenly hawkish Trump is a hypocrite
Even if there’s justification for President Trump’s missile attack in Syria — and I’m not saying there’s not — the gesture reeks of hypocrisy.
No less than 18 times in recent years, Trump said the United States should stay the hell out of Syria. Indeed, he’s cautioned against any kind of American military action almost anywhere in the Middle East.
In October of 2012, Trump tweeted the following message: “Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin — watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.”
Does Trump not remember saying these things? Does he feel no need to explain his sudden switch in attitude? Perhaps this episode arises from the man’s notorious addiction to television.
In his one public statement last night, Trump referred to the ghastly images of little children suffering from the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian government’s latest attack on its own people. Those images have been shown on television this week all over the Western world.
But there have been far worse chemical attacks on Syrian children in the past, and Trump seems not to have been greatly upset about them. Perhaps he didn’t see them on TV.
In any event, Trump’s new hawkishness seems not to be sitting well with certain elements of his political base. The alt-right crowd, for example, sees the president’s missile attack as a betrayal of the nationalist, anti-interventionist and anti-globalist views he touted during the campaign.
Nor is the military establishment entirely supportive of Trump’s missile attack. Retired Four-Star Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey said it was a “mistake” and a purely political gesture.
McCaffrey added: “The question might be why don’t we consider significant humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees and border regions of Turkey and Jordan and Iraq in lieu of ineffectual military strikes.”
It’s probably too soon to determine whether Trump will reap any political benefit from the missile attack. If he does, it might take many months before we know if the boost in his political fortunes will last. The Presidents Bush, father and son alike, got good poll numbers from their militarism, but only at first. They both fell into disfavor with the public.