The removal of #Stephen Bannon from the #National Security Council (NSC) may be the first sign that the realities of international diplomacy are hitting home in the White House. More than the order which removed Bannon, comments by President #Donald Trump and #Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may have had unforeseen impacts on the decision..
The choice of Steve Bannon as the White House’s Chief Strategist raised eyebrows in Washington. The controversial ex chief of Breitbart News had no experience to bring to the position other than a political philosophy that many considered closer to white supremacy and alt-right thinking than the realities of a world where truth is never black or white.
The resignation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn removed President Trump’s preferred choice for the Council Chairman and this week’s events seem to confirm rumours that his replacement, Lt. General H. R. McMaster, wanted to choose people with appropriate experience for the fundamental committee overseeing the country’s security operations.
It is no coincidence that this move comes when events in Syria have taken a tragic turn. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently stated that the United States had no interest in the removal of Russian backed Dictator Bashar Al-Assad from power.
Many experts believe that this may have been the lever that allowed the Syrian leader to order the bombing of anti-government rebel town of Khan Sheikhoun in the country’s Iblid region with the alleged use of gas weapons that killed many civilians including children.
The images of the attack led President Donald Trump to initially blame the decisions of the previous Obama Administration in 2012 but after criticism of the comments by Republican Senators such as Marco Rubio reported in the Washington Post and other newspapers the President restated his position indicating a stronger stance towards Syria.
At the same time the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also took a much firmer position of the Al-Assad regime in the face of a Russian veto of the proposed motion condemning the attack.
These events have clearly shown that the White House is still learning that diplomacy is not deal making.
On the world stage words are weapons that have consequences and this week’s actions by the Oval Office are a tacit admission that Administration’s previous statements had unexpected impact on the Syrian civil war.
Now the Oval Office will now have to be even more careful as it prepares for the weekend’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. President Donald Trump has already backed down from one statement in the past regarding China when he withdrew suggestions that the United States may reconsider its four decades old One China policy after a telephone call with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing Wen during the transition period.
The new NSC will surely brief President Trump not to make statements that he may not be able to follow up. During the last week the President had stated that the United States may take unilateral action against the recalcitrant North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un and this week’s new missile test by Pyongyang was surely a provocation by the Dictator in anticipation of this week’s summit in Florida in reply to this comment.
Any sign of backtracking by the President will be seen as weakness by the Chinese during negotiations not only on the North Korean situation but also on Chinese intentions in the South China Sea that are the source of worries for America’s Asian allies.
The sign of a good leader is in the people chosen to give advice and whether or not he listens to this advice. With the removal of Steve Bannon from the NSC and General McMaster’s choice of more experienced members for the Committee President Trump will be better able to overcome the challenges facing the country.
This weekend’s summit will show us if the changes to the NSC will make or break the Trump presidency. #President Donald Trump