HAWK OR NOT? Is Trump Expanding the Wars?
So once again, here we are. A new President must deal with the old war. President Donald Trump must decide on whether to send thousands of additional American troops overseas into the longest-running US combat theatre on the planet, Afghanistan.
Back in March of 2016, 21WIRE’s Shawn Helton penned a insightful piece entitled, HAWKISH DOVE: The Enigma of Donald Trump in Volatile Race to the White House. In this article, Helton describes how then GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was putting forward a populist, alomist Paulist image among a bevy of warhawk and Neocon rivals.
Back then, Helton described the media and political pressure placed on Trump:
“Recently, Trump was pressed again on matters concerning the Middle East and his response has been surprisingly diplomatic with a non-interventionist platform. Trump’s open condemnation of the Bush administration for the Iraq war and the Obama White House for the destruction of Libya, has resonated across the board for voters on both sides of the political spectrum. Trump has asserted that 2003’s invasion in Iraq and the blitzkrieg in Libya via NATO members in 2011, is further evidence of failed US foreign policy throughout the world.
Doubling down, the GOP frontrunner Trump, has also refused to pick a side between Israel and Palestine – and in true form to his business pedigree, stating that he would rather attempt to broker a peace deal in the ages old conflict, rather than tow the party line.”
Onlookers wondered how this stance would play if Trump ever made into office. Back then it was immpossible to know, but now after 6 months in office, we have something to work with. We saw how fast Trump reacted to the alleged ‘chemical weapons’ attack at Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, Syria on April 4, 2017. His errant, knee-jerk cruise missile strike days later might go down in history as one of the biggest fumbles in US history (if that’s even possible to measure).
Is Trump continuing down Obama’s proven path of juggling multiple conflicts while engaging in illegal proxy wars?
Vanity Fair explains a possible fait accompli:
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump pitched Americans on an immiscible foreign-policy agenda, combining elements of staunch isolationism and a rejection of Bush-era interventionism with promises to “bomb the shit out of ISIS.” But in his four months as president, Trump, characteristically, has done something of a 180-degree turn. He turned over much of his military policy and decision-making to the same “embarrassing” generals he previously claimed to know more than; he authorized a missile strike and boots on the ground in Syria, a country he had repeatedly warned against getting involved with; and he increased troop levels in Iraq, doubling down on a tactic he had called “a horrible mistake.”
Now, the Trump administration is considering sending more troops into the war in Afghanistan, which he previously called “a complete waste.” On Tuesday, the president gave Defense Secretary James Mattis the authority to determine the number of troops in Afghanistan, The New York Times reports, a rejection of the management levels adopted by the Obama administration.
Then there’s the issue of rogue dinosaur John McCain, who refuses to retire and seems happy as ever to take down various and sundry nation-states, in order to quench his own desire for chaos and conflict:
This dynamic has left some lawmakers frustrated. During a meeting last week in which Mattis conceded to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. is “not winning in Afghanistan right now,” John McCain derided the delay of a broader strategy. “We are now six months into this administration; we still haven’t got a strategy for Afghanistan,” the Arizona senator said. “It makes it hard for us to support you when we don’t have a strategy. We know what the strategy was for the last eight years—don’t lose. That hasn’t worked.”
Mattis responded, “We are putting it together now, and there are actions being taken to make certain that we don’t pay a price for the delay,” he said. “We recognize the need for urgency, and your criticism is fair, sir.”
It may be too early to tell, but getting the White House to decouple from Pentagon group-think may prove to be too hard a task for a President who is desperate for poll rating and a win, any win.