Trump’s Middle East Stumbles
DENVER – The recent six-month mark of Donald Trump’s presidency serves as a reminder not only of how little his administration has accomplished domestically, but also of how his meandering foreign policy has created a geopolitical landscape rife with ticking time bombs. And nowhere have the consequences of Trump’s almost willful incapacity to grasp complex problems, and his obsession with reversing the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama, become more apparent than in the Middle East.
Consider Trump’s decision in April to launch cruise missiles at the Shayrat Airbase in Syria, in response to the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Aside from an unconvincing nod to humanitarianism, Trump’s only rationale for deploying US military capabilities seems to have been that Obama – after famously drawing a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons in Syria – did not respond militarily to the Assad regime’s chemical attack in Ghouta in 2013.
But Trump showed little interest in following up on the attack with diplomacy. Then, earlier this month at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, he indicated that the US might somehow join forces with Russia to enforce a ceasefire in Syria’s southwest, which would serve as a model for other parts of the country, thus setting the stage for an eventual peace process.