Presidents are not elected for popularity but because their voters believed that they are capable of carrying out a particular series of tasks. Thursday night’s missile attack on the Shayrat air base in Syria was the reply to an act that shocked the world. The next stage is the hardest, finding a solution to make such raids unnecessary.
By his own words, the images of dead children in the gas attack on Khan Skeikhoum in Syria this week pushed President #Donald Trump to take an action that he had previously advised Barack Obama not to take, to bomb Syria and, to make it worse, to undertake the action without the permission of Congress..
While the aim of the missile attack was cheered by many who previously criticized Trump, it also appalled many who voted for him because of his campaign promise that he would not commit such an act. #The Oval Office must now show that what will follow will not be a series of attacks but a plan to remove the sources of instability in the Middle East that are forcing millions to flee their homes.
The hard line Russian reaction is the first hurdle that #President Donald Trump must overcome on this issue. Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly backs the Al-Assad dictatorship and his response was not limited to condemnation of the American attack and empty rhetoric in the United Nations but included also a solid promise that Russia will provide further missile protection systems for Syrian cities and presumably military facilities..
The Russian leader chooses his language carefully and so the use of the word “war” in his response is a clear indication of the seriousness with which the Kremlin considers the attack. The Oval Office must first give priority to reconciling with Moscow because without Putin’s contribution a solution to the Syrian situation is impossible.
ISIS and terror
On the same day reports of civilian deaths in a civilian attack on Tikrit, dead Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s hometown, and the reports by Reuters that dozens of civilians were hanged and left on power poles for trying to flee the battle at Mosul, both acts committed by ISIS, show that the situation in the Middle East is a chequer board of conflicts that will need a clear plan from the United States for the future, a plan that does not yet seem to exist.
General H. R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor and head of the National Security Council is a veteran of the wars in the Middle East and thus more than anyone in the White House knows that war in itself is not a solution.
He and his nominees must be actively involved in the formulation of the future direction of the country’s foreign policy.
Congress and China
The reaction from Congress was generally of support for the missile attack but it was also clear that future military action cannot go ahead without at least consultation from the House. This consultation will also involve planning for resolution of the Middle East minefield.
This week also sees the Summit between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping where Syria was not the only item of military importance discussed. As reported by Reuters, the two Presidents discussed North Korea which has been acting increasingly aggressively with ballistic missile tests that seemed tied to events in the United States. Comments by #President Trump of progress on this matter only confirm the fact that the United States has major world politics issues in more than one continent.
These foreign policy matters will be even more difficult to resolve with a shortstaffed State Department and complicated by leaks of conflict between senior White House staff. This is a period when the Oval Office cannot be distracted by issues that should have been resolved during the transition period.
In many ways the easiest part of the Presidency is ordering attacks but the real task and the hardest to complete is to be able to resolve these issues in a manner that will not require future military intervention. Bombs and soldiers are not enough, the solutions are political and can only come from clear unambigious leadership from the top.
President Trump was elected to solve problems and can no longer hide behind rhetoric but by putting into effect solid plans and actions that will ensure that he no longer has to order attacks. This is the hardest and the only true task for a President. Pomp and ceremony mean nothing if not accompanied by action and solutions.