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Trump the War President?

NEW YORK – Nothing seemed to be going right for Donald Trump during the first 11 weeks of his presidency. Federal courts blocked his attempts to ban citizens from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. He failed to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature health-care legislation (“Obamacare”), because so-called moderates in the Republican Party thought his proposed replacement was too harsh, and extremists thought it wasn’t harsh enough.

Moreover, Trump’s national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, had to step down because of dodgy dealings with the Russians, and members of his inner circle at the White House are fighting like cats and dogs. The New York Times and the Washington Post have both called Trump a liar. His approval ratings were dipping to 35%, the lowest ever recorded for a new president.

Then, seemingly on the spur of the moment, Trump ordered an attack by 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian air base. After years of horrendous bombings and torture by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, after adamantly refusing to allow Syrians to escape the carnage by coming to the US as refugees, and after making clear only last week that the US would do nothing to topple Assad, Trump saw pictures of children foaming at the mouth after another chemical gas attack, and changed his mind.

Suddenly Obamacare, chaos in the White House, wild tweets and political incoherence, as well as a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, for which Trump had appeared unprepared, were utterly forgotten. The same New York Times that had been in high dudgeon about the president from the moment he came to power now devoted almost every column inch to the steadfastness of the commander-in-chief, who had acted to teach the world (meaning China, Russia, and North Korea) a fine lesson.