The man who did not know where Tehran was (and may still not know), Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton announced in a New York Times op-ed today that Donald Trump’s attack on a Syrian airfield, putting it out of commission for less than 24 hours, helped restore U.S. credibility.
According to the bombastic Cotton, “In one night, President Trump turned the tables.”
“The world now sees that President Trump does not share his predecessor’s reluctance to use force. And that’s why nations across the world have rallied to our side, while Russia and Iran are among the few to have condemned the attack.”
Never mind that when President Obama wanted to take action in Syria, Republicans like Tom Cotton forbade it. Barack Obama, unlike Donald Trump, had to get permission.
Consider the source, therefore, when Cotton claims:
“He showed the world that when the United States issues a warning, it will back up its words with action. There was no hand-wringing, no straw-man choice between doing nothing and launching a massive ground invasion, no dithering for consultations with others who do not have the power to act.”
No hand-wringing? My God, the man changed course entirely, from dismissing the attack to launching missiles nearly before he could draw breath. It was a whiplash-inducing change of mind.
All Donald Trump showed was the ability to cash in on human suffering. Far from helping Syrian refugees, he kept his back turned while a Navy destroyer put a few potholes in a runway.
According to Cotton,
“The threat of the use of force — and its actual use when necessary — is an essential foundation for effective diplomacy.”
Apparently, Cotton is forgetting who killed Osama bin Laden and most of his replacements and many of the leaders of ISIS. And who put together the current coalition facing ISIS on the battlefield.
Cotton even went so far as to claim that this meaningless and underwhelming missile strike put Syria in its place:
“But these strikes did more than simply punish Mr. Assad and deter future attacks; they have gone a long way to restoring our badly damaged credibility in the world.”
Well…that is one thing Trump’s attack did not accomplish.
It is a bit soon to claim Assad, who has the full backing of Trump’s boss, Vladimir Putin, has been cowed by Trump’s paltry response, let alone deterred future attacks.
And our credibility among our allies was never in question under President Obama, whose sane and pragmatic approach to foreign policy was a welcome relief after eight years of Bush’s cowboy diplomacy.
Our potential enemies also knew where we stood. Only one man in the world, however, is absolutely certain about what Donald Trump will do next.
That man is Vladimir Putin, who long ago took the measure of Donald Trump.
That’s why Putin so badly wanted Cotton’s hero in the White House. A more malleable tool of Russian foreign policy could not be found.
Yes, Donald Trump has had an effect on U.S. credibility overseas. And it’s not a change for the better.