Trump Gave Syria His Plans Ahead Of Time, Let Them Evacuate Military Equipment Before US Bombing
“You know, I am not the United States of the past where we tell you where we are going to hit in the Middle East.” – Donald Trump, in an interview with the Financial Times on April 2, 2017.
As a presidential candidate in 2016 and as President in 2017, Donald Trump has said over and over again that as Commander In Chief, he won’t tell America’s enemies ahead of time where he’s going to attack. He’s said that he would use the element of surprise.
What Donald Trump has actually done is exactly the opposite. In his first high profile bombing, announced by Trump in a flashy press conference made to make him look tough, Donald Trump gave the Syrian government, through a tip to the Russian government, hours of warning about where the United States was going to send its bombs.
So, Syria was able to evacuate much of the most important aircraft, weaponry, and equipment from Shayrat Airfield before it was hit. Trump Administration officials suggested that the airfield in Syria had been completely destroyed. In fact, just a little over a day after Trump’s big bombing, Shayrat Airfield was up and running again, launching attacks against Syria’s different rebel groups.
So, Donald Trump spent 59 Tomahawk missiles from America’s arsenal for no effective military gain, because he did precisely what he pledged never to do. Each one of those missiles cost $1.59 million dollars. That’s $93.81 million dollars thrown away, because Donald Trump can’t keep his mouth shut and plan in secret like he said he would.
Donald Trump’s claims of getting tough on Syria simply aren’t matched by the facts. He didn’t hit Syria hard. He pulled his punch.
Showing restraint can be the sign of a strong leader. Competent politicians don’t need to rely on saber rattling and acts of violence to appear powerful. Peace is a sign of national leadership that has the wisdom to use the full repertoire of foreign policy tools to achieve international cooperation, so that military action is kept to an absolute minimum.
So, pulling a punch would be a sign of effective leadership from Donald Trump if he intended such restraint as the beginning of a mature, nonviolent foreign policy. That’s the opposite of what Donald Trump claimed to be doing, though. He adopted the pose of a tough guy, willing to use violence to intimidate foreign governments into obedience to American demands.
What Donald Trump did with the attack on Syria was the worst of both worlds. He promoted the ideology of a military strongman while failing to actually follow through on his threats.
If Donald Trump is going to make threats, they shouldn’t be hollow ones. What Trump has just taught the Syrian government is that when it comes to military action, he’s all bark and no bite.
The conflict in Syria needs to be addressed with more than just political theater.
With months to prepare, and months more in office, Donald Trump still hasn’t come up with any plan for how to deal with the mess in Syria. The Trump Administration sometimes blusters about regime change, but has no plan for putting a less brutal alternative to Assad in power. At other times, the Trump Administration says that it’s just fine if Bashar al-Assad stays in power. Just today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that there is no change to the Trump policy of allowing Assad to stay in power, right after Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, said that Trump is in favor of deposing Assad.
The Trump Administration clearly doesn’t have any coherent plan for U.S. policy in Syria. As we all learned under George W. Bush, when a President launches military attacks without any play for how to follow through, disaster results.