168 Hours of Syria Policy in the Trump Administration

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Let’s roll the tape on the past few days:

Last Friday: Sean Spicer confirms remarks by Secretary of State Tillerson that Trump is OK with leaving Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria. “There is a political reality that we have to accept,” he says.

Tuesday: Trump learns the downside of haphazard policy changes driven mostly by a desire to be different from Obama. Assad, feeling more secure after learning the United States accepts his leadership of Syria, launches a chemical attack on rebels in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Wednesday: Trump, apparently shocked to find out that Assad is a butcher, says Assad has “crossed many, many lines.”

Today: Trump tells reporters about Assad, “I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.” Tillerson translates this into English: “It would seem there would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people.”

Later today: We learn that the Pentagon is preparing recommendations for military action in Syria.

A few minutes after that: Regime change is once again official policy. “Those steps are underway” for the US to lead an international effort to remove Assad.

So in the space of a week, we’ve gone from Assad can stay to Assad must go to let’s bomb Syria. This is quite the crack foreign policy team we have in Washington these days.

I can hardly wait for Trump to launch a bombing campaign for a few days—something that’s a routine favorite of US presidents—and then declare it a massive, game-changing retaliation, “something that’s never been done before.” But at least that would be better than something that really was a game changer. Just remember: whatever John McCain recommends, do the opposite.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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