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The Trump Doctrine
Spoiler Alert: There Is None
“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy. I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power [over] North Korea. ... But it’s not what you would think.” - President Donald Trump to the Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2017
When an unhinged simpleton is commander-in-chief of the most power and richest armed forces on the planet you get the week we just had.
Under mounting evidence that key members of the 2016 Trump campaign committed high treason in colluding with the Russian government, a known and hostile adversary of the United States, to intervene on its behalf in this country’s previous presidential election, President Trump dispatched his heretofore missing-in-action Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Turkey to proclaim that "the longer-term status of President [Bashar] Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.” This sent neo-cons like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain into the predictable tizzy, but it did echo the president’s oft repeated vow to be a different Republican and the new voice of “America First” to stay out of the civil wars of foreign nations with little to no lasting sovereign or fiscal interests to the U.S.
This was especially prevalent to matter of Syria, where not only had candidate Trump shrugged his shoulders about Assad, using the “We should have left Saddam Hussein in power because a tough dictator is far more stable than the mess that emerged in the vacuum after the failed maneuvers of the Bush Doctrine”, he doubled down with a constant and almost creepy defense and praise of Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin throughout 2016.
Citizen Trump famously tweeted his advice on this issue in 2012 to the former president, “We should stay the hell out of Syria, the "rebels" are just as bad as the current regime. (caps are his) “WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS? ZERO.”
Then, with no warning beyond a four-minute aside by Tillerson prior to the arrival of the Chinese to Trump’s private residence in Mar-a-Largo, Florida, no discussion with congress, or any announcement to the American people, the president dramatically shifted his stance, more like violently spun the whole thing around with dizzying speed, bagging the very foundation of his campaign’s divergence from the usual “fix the planet” Republican mantra of the Bush Administration he unmercifully mocked for over a year by bombing an Al Shayrat airfield in Syria. Something Citizen Trump thought better of in 2013 when someone else had this gig, judging from his tweet tsunami on the subject: “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict?” and “Obama needs Congressional approval. The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!”
This was of course in response to the horrific photos and videos taken after Assad’s chemical weapons dump on Syrian civilians, many of them children, the week before. Trump had commented on how affected he was by them, which is noble and human and no one blames him. However, Trump no longer hosts a TV show and gets up at four am to angrily tweet about shit he knows little to nothing about. He owns this now, and by owning it, he owns America’s role in the greater construct of foreign affairs and relations. This is something, again, an unhinged simpleton is learning on the job, and this past week the very notion of a Trump Doctrine has been laid to waste.
During all of this, while consuming in his Louis XIV style meal and what he described to FOX News as “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen” with Chinese Presdient Xi Jinping at his aforementioned luxury accommodations a thousand miles or so from D.C., Trump gave the orders that upset several international apple-carts. First and foremost, American military personnel are working mostly under cover in the fight against ISIS (the only reason we are in the country in the first place) had to summarily evacuate missions, the Russian government, under heavy suspicion of meddling in the American election by congress and the FBI, has a reed-thin agreement on overt military action, especially from the air, as there are daily missions to ostensibly defeat ISIS as an ally, and finally pushing us head first in a civil war in which there are no allies or strategic end-game.
One is right to ask about the moral imperative for the United States to not sit idly by and watch children slaughtered by a mad man, but if this kind of thing, which has gone sideways now since 2001 in two other countries, and went mostly badly in Libya for the previous administration, (another maneuver derided by TV show Trump) then one might ask what “help” does bombing one airbase actually do to curtail Assad or his ability to wreak havoc on his people? And one also then has the right to ask what to do about Assad, to which Trump has offered no plan, except to punt any thought of removing him from power, which before Tillerson’s fancy speech in the final days of last month was the official stance of the U.S. It no longer is, or is it?
Then there is North Korea.
Trump gladly admitted this week in a lengthy interview with the Wall Street Journal he had no idea about Chinese/North Korean relations, its history, or how complicated all this “curbing” the lunatic, Kim Jong Un would be. Yet this didn’t stop him from blathering on about Un and North Korea being “in trouble” and sending what he described as an “armada”, actually the 97,000-ton USS Carl Vinson with an escort of a guided-missile cruiser and two destroyers, to the Korean peninsula heightening tensions there beyond anything seen since the early 1950s when this country was in a conflict there known as the Korean War.
Beyond the president acting like a tough guy and playing with is boats in the bath, what exactly does any of this accomplish? And let’s say there is an all-out war where thousands are killed and the North Korean situation is “taken care of”, who pays for the reconstruction and all that fun stuff that this president vowed to eliminate from the federal government’s responsibilities in lieu of American jobs ignored by fixing the world’s problems that all the stupid weak politicians prior to him got mired in?
Before the week ended apparently the Pentagon, which has unilateral approval from the White House without express consent from the president, unleashed the largest bomb since the atomic blasts in Japan over sixty years ago on ISIS tunnels at the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
And so I ask, and not rhetorically, what is the Trump Doctrine?
Bush Doctrine? Aggressive vengeance and nation-building.
Obama Doctrine? Diplomacy and stasis.
This has been replaced by seat-of-the-pants knee-jerk nonsense.
Let’s see how that works.
© James Campion April 14th 2017
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