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Life comes at you fast in the Trump administration. A day after warning Syria, Russia, and the world that missiles "will be coming," President Trump clarified Thursday that he didn't say when. "Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" And this was only a week after the president said he wanted to pull U.S. troops out of Syria completely.
Amidst all this chaos, however, one thing remains a constant: Despite electing an "America First" president who has at least episodically expressed skepticism of foreign interventionism, it is awfully hard to press antiwar arguments in the Donald's Washington.
Arguments - Restraint - Hearing - President - Obama
Arguments for restraint that would have gotten a fair hearing under President Obama, even after drawing red lines and half-heartedly threatening strikes in 2013, are treated less respectfully now. The antiwar left that existed under President Bush has been largely dormant under Trump.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was peppered with questions at a daily briefing this week about whether even talking about withdrawal encouraged the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons. "Has the president been briefed that his comments about wanting to leave Syria could have played a part — emboldened Assad and played a part in these attacks?" asked one reporter. "Didn't the president, by saying that he wants to get out of Syria, essentially give a green light to Assad to do this, as John McCain had suggested?" queried a second one.
McCain - Assessments - Obama - Iraq - Troop
McCain's assessments of Obama's Iraq troop withdrawals would have been quoted more skeptically.
Yet when Trump does use military force, he appears to receive the same "strange new respect" afforded other wartime presidents. Editorialists who inveigh against Trump as a reckless and irresponsible actor nevertheless want to see him engage in non-defensive military engagements without congressional approval. The Washington Post, for example, doesn't think Trump has done enough...
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