If you want to know where President Donald Trump will bomb next, follow his daughter on Twitter:
It's Ivanka's rare outburst and her use of the word 'outraged' that suggested daddy might do something. If she deems something abroad unacceptable, you can be sure the full terrifying force of American power will be deployed to make her feel better.
Ok, I’m being a little facetious. But that is the sort of US government we are dealing with now. President Trump looks a lot like the man his political enemies warned us about: a hothead with command of the most powerful military machine the world has ever seen. Donald Trump will act on emotion – or what he perceives to be popular sentiment. He is impressed by men in uniform and he is very influenced by his daughter and her husband Jared. Together they will intervene in conflicts they don’t begin to understand, perhaps because of disturbing pictures on the news, perhaps because they want to look decisive (unlike that quisling Barack Obama), or perhaps because they just want to be loved.
As Andy Bacevich says in his excellent cover piece this week, Trump isn’t Hitler. He’s more like Kaiser Wilhelm II, an over-impulsive amateur militarist who will gamble with world peace.
World leaders and their loyal pundits are queuing up to say the US strike on Syria is a justified response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Chemical weapons are ‘a red line that can’t be crossed’ etc etc. This is, of course, exactly the reaction the White House is hoping for. It is a clear sign that Trump is not a Putin lackey, as everyone claimed. He is willing to attack Putin’s ally Assad.
Is Jared Kushner the 'deputy President' of the United States? Freddy Gray speaks to Jacob Heilbrunn on the Americano podcast:
But are we certain that Assad and his forces used chemicals? You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to think that reports of chemical weapons strikes in Syria tend to be unreliable, and that the latest US strike may have been taken without proper review of the evidence. It’s worth asking why President Assad, who through a combination of luck, skill, and outside help (including from America and Britain) has managed to survive the civil war, would risk destroying his strategic advantage by committing a great war crime and therefore incurring the wrath of the world?
And even if we could prove anything, what exactly is the plan now in Syria? Is the west’s role to act as referee in Syria? Mortars and RPGs are fine, lads, reduce that town to rubble – but gassing is a no-no. In the Syrian conflict so far, our policy seems to have been to pick all sides and none. We don’t know what we are doing. Donald Trump is willing to send in US ground troops, it seems, but to achieve what? To create a beautiful democracy as we did in Iraq? Or is it just an impulse? Trump foreign policy is beginning to look like Bushism with even less forward thinking.
We often read that fair Ivanka acts as a check on her over-impulsive father. That's spin, of course -- the fair, politically correct daughter keeping her fuddy-duddy father in line. But it also seems true. She and Jared want to be accepted in political circles, the high society in which Trump is anathema, and in political circles Assad used chemical weapons and that demands retribution. Jared Kushner, we know, is chief string-puller within the Trump administration. Reports suggest he side-lined Steve Bannon from the National Security Council, and it’s almost certainly not a coincidence he visited the Middle East this week.
All hail Prince Jared, then, and Ivanka. Let’s just hope that somebody has a clue what they are doing.