Donald Trump has jumped into a quagmire with his eyes shut

The president has just swaggered his way into the single most complex civil war in living memory – and he does so with little credibility or legitimacy

By Richard Wolffe / The Guardian / April 7, 2017


It may be hard to believe, but Donald Trump is even more simplistic than George W Bush in matters of war. George W Bush enjoyed all the certainty of a very simple man: you were either with us or against us, good or evil, marching for democracy or plotting terrorist attacks.

Yet Donald Trump contrives to make Bush look like a Baron von Metternich of complexity. He just launched military strikes against a brutal Syrian regime he used to describe as “NOT our problem.” That’s the same Syrian regime propped up by his own Russian friends.

There’s a lot to be said for moral clarity after the Assad regime’s disgusting chemical attacks that murdered so many civilians in northern Syria this week. But that’s not what Trump represents. His moral certainty was nowhere to be found in 2013, after the first large-scale chemical attacks that crossed Obama’s infamous red line. “President Obama, do not attack Syria,” tweeted Trump. “There is no upside and tremendous downside.”

Now Trump himself is upside down on Syria. He initially blamed Obama and his red line for the chemical attacks this week, insisting that the overblown rhetoric had hurt the United States. This from a man who told this gem to reporters aboard Air Force One yesterday: “I think we’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency.”

Yes, Donald Trump is a great big bag of contradictions and he just swaggered his way into the single most complex civil war in living memory. A war that is even more complicated than raising a high-rise hotel in a foreign capital.