We had a lot of concerns about a Donald Trump presidency when he was elected in November: Conflicts of interest; no coherent foreign policy; complete and baffling ignorance about the Middle East; nepotism; collusion with Russia and Vladimir Putin; appointing incompetent, inexperienced cabinet members; and fears that he would embroil us in a conflict that would lead us into World War III.
Every one of those concerns has been put on full display in the days since Donald Trump ordered a military strike in Syria, whether you agree with the initial decision to respond to chemical attacks in Syria or not. Personally, I thought it was the right call: It’s what Hillary would have done. It’s what McCain would have done (and while I’m not a huge fan of McCain, I trust him where it concerns foreign policy); it’s what Obama wanted to do. But Trump’s decision was baffling, nevertheless, because it went against everything he campaigned against.
When a President does an immediate 180 and goes against his own policies, it raises concerns. Was there an ulterior motive? We don’t know. We do know — or think we know — that both Russia and Syria knew about the attacks in advance, which is weird, and also goes against Trump’s own campaign promises not to warn our enemies before attacking them.
It’s clear that Trump has no idea what he’s doing, and the mixed messages we continue to get from his UN Ambassador Nikki Haley — who is advocating for regime change — and his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who insists that our policy toward Syria has not changed one day and suggests that more attack could be forthcoming the next day, only muddies the issue. Meanwhile, the White House is scrambling to develop a clear message, but its messengers can’t seem to stick to the talking points. (Sean Spicer and Tillerson are basically contradicting each other at this point). Donald Trump’s complete silence on the matter since the bombings raises even more concerns. “Everyone needs to get on board with the president’s message” on Syria, Michael Cohen says, but nobody seems to know what that message is.
So, was this political cover? Maybe! Who knows? “If there was anything that [the strike on] Syria did, it was to validate the fact that there is no Russia tie,” Eric Trump told the Daily Telegraph, which sounds like political cover to me. It certainly doesn’t discourage the many conspiracy theories surrounding the issue, including some very bizarre ones that suggest that Putin and Trump were in on this together, somehow, and that they drummed up this controversy and bombed a country to distract America from the Trump campaign’s connection to Russia. Is Putin now refusing to meet with Rex Tillerson because he’s legitimately pissed at the United States, or is it all part of the political cover? Are we on the verge of World War III, or is the President trying to cover his ass?
The conspiracy theories are completely absurd, and yet they can’t be completely dismissed, can they? Meanwhile, the white nationalists have their own conspiracy theories suggesting it was all a false flag operation, that our intelligence communities made up stuff to draw Trump into the conflict. That this is WMDs in Iraq all over again. Facts mean nothing. We don’t even know what the facts are. The media itself is being fueled by speculation and conspiracy because it’s all they have to go on.
There are also reports from Eric Trump himself that it was Ivanka Trump who told her father to order the strike, which is f**king bizarre, because Ivanka Trump doesn’t know sh*t about foreign policy. Why is the President making life and death decisions that go against his campaign pledges based on the advice of his daughter?
"Daddy, will you bomb Syria for me?"— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) April 11, 2017
"Ok, but it will have to be done incompetently."
"Aw! That's my daddy!"
Why is Ivanka Trump a military advisor now?
Why nepotism is dangerous. Family members have outsized influence relative to their expertise. Ivanka has no business advising on Syria. https://t.co/ABlGa1IWDJ— Helen Klein Murillo (@HKMurillo) April 11, 2017
We are dazed and confused. It’s a mess. A confusing distracting mess, but it’s exactly the mess we were concerned about when Donald Trump was elected.