NBC News reported over the weekend that Syria’s Assad regime launched an alleged chemical weapons attack late Saturday, killing dozens. Donald Trump, relying on Twitter instead of official White House statements, said Russia and Iran “are responsible for backing Animal Assad.”
Soon after, however, the American president turned his attention to his predecessor.
“If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!”
This really isn’t a good argument. For one thing, when Trump launched a missile strike in Syria last year, the line from the White House and its allies was that the U.S. had sent a powerful signal that put the Assad government in its place. Those boasts haven’t held up especially well.
For another, perhaps Donald Trump has forgotten what his position was in 2013 when Barack Obama was weighing a military offensive in Syria – because he was the one saying the opposite of what he’s saying now.
In Sept. 2013, the future president implored Obama, “Do NOT attack Syria.” In all-caps follow-up, Trump added, “Again, to our very foolish leader, do not attack Syria - if you do many very bad things will happen & from that fight the U.S. gets nothing!”
That’s just a sampling. Trump spent much of 2013 insisting that Syria was not the United States’ “problem,” adding, “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict?”
What’s more, Trump, at separate times, also argued that Obama would be making a “big mistake” if he failed to “get congressional approval before attacking Syria,” and that an offensive against Assad could “very well lead to World War III.”
As of yesterday, Trump’s new argument is effectively, “Obama should’ve done what I begged him not to do.”
The president may find it politically convenient to blame Obama’s actions from five years ago for a chemical weapons attack allegedly launched two days ago, but the president’s posture doesn’t make a lot of sense.