Trump’s Realism: America First Not America Alone

Is Donald Trump a student of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand? Some of Trump’s recent actions suggest that he is, at least intuitively. I am thinking in particular of Talleyrand’s observation that “non-intervention is a metaphysical idea, indistinguishable in practice from intervention.” The question is not whether a state like America is part of the process. It is, by definition. The question is how effective a role it will play.

Thursday night, Donald Trump demonstrated his grasp of that truth.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

In August 2012, Barack Obama had some stern words for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime,” Obama said, “that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.”

A year later, Assad launched a gas attack against parts of a suburb of Damascus. It killed some 1,500 civilians, including more than 400 children. As Politico reported, “Horrific video footage showing people with twisted bodies sprawled on hospital floors, some twitching and foaming at the mouth after being exposed to sarin gas” went viral on the internet.

The “red line” had certainly been crossed. Outrage. Consternation. Calls for action.

Obama did . . . nothing.

John Kerry and Susan Rice later took credit for removing “100 percent” of Syria’s chemical weapons without firing a shot.

Except that they left some of the toxic stuff behind.

Earlier last week, Assad’s forces conducted another sarin gas attack against rebel forces in Syria. This left some 70 people dead, “including children, . . . some writhing, choking, gasping or foaming at the mouth.”

Sixty-three hours later, around the time that Donald Trump was having dinner with President Xi Jinping of China at Mar-a-Lago, two US destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean fired fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria’s Shayrat air base, from where the deadly gas attack originated. The carefully targeted attack destroyed aircraft, air defense control systems, fuel and ammunition storage facilities, and workshops. Barracks and facilities suspected of housing more chemical weapons were deliberately spared.

Naturally, the chattering class erupted like a flock of grackles.

Much of the bird song was familiar. Holding down the paranoid conspiracy corner, MSNBC Lawrence O’Donnell wondered whether Vladimir Putin had masterminded the chemical attack so that Trump could “look good by striking Syria.” Am I alone in thinking that the strange sound you hear above O’Donnell’s insane chirping is the theme from the Twilight Zone? (Confession: I do not watch MSNBC and have only recently become aware of O’Donnell’s existence. He clearly needs help.)

There were all the usual questions that arise when the US President unexpectedly uses military force. Chief among those questions: Was Trump’s authorized to order the strike without first obtaining the approval of Congress? Ted Cruz summed up the answer: Yes. In our system, the power to declare war is vested in Congress. But it is the Commander in Chief’s prerogative to take action to defend the country and to respond to exigent circumstances that threaten national security. The deployment and use of weapons of mass destructive constitutes such a threat. Ergo, etc.

There was a good dealing of novel chirping, too. My unofficial poll suggests that Trump’s action against Syria met with wide approval among the American people. It even earned plaudits from many anti-Trump Republicans, especially in the neo-conservative fraternity. Ralph Peters, for example, formerly a foaming critic of Trump, sang his praises. “The United States is back. There are, indeed, red lines. And the enemies of humanity cross those lines at their peril.”

There was a lot more where that came from.

I hesitate to intrude upon the novel warm glow of good feeling from that corridor of previously implacable disgruntlement. Nevertheless, that particular chirping chorus is bound to be disappointed. Trump’s attack on Syria was not the answer to that fabled call for the 1980s to send back its foreign policy. It was a carefully calculated response—to an atrocity, first of all, but also to a number of surrounding contingencies, some of which I’ll come to in a moment.

If the neo-conservative jubilation ought to be tempered, so should the alarm that coruscated through some precincts of the Trump faithful. Donald Trump campaigned on an America First platform that made avoiding foreign entanglements its centerpiece. Indeed he did. But as Chris Buskirk has noted on this site (and as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has corroborated), the strike against Syria did not in any way gainsay that ambition. There are no signs that the nation-building moral imperialism of the Bush era is making a comeback.

What is making a comeback, however, is the peace-through-strength realism that Trump repeatedly championed during his candidacy and first weeks of his presidency. And this brings me to those surrounding contingencies I mentioned.

As many observers have noted, the attack on Shayrat air base was directed not only at Bashar al-Assad. We can say with high confidence that it was intended to garner the attention of several other people. President Xi Jinping, for example. There he was, the guest of President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, tucking into the Dover sole and New York strip steak. By the time he got to the chocolate cake, the attack was over. As the dinner broke up, Trump took President Xi aside and quickly informed him about the strike. Response? Our talks were productive and cordial.

Then there is Vladimir Putin. The Trump-colluded-with-the-Russians-to-win-the-election meme was never anything but preposterous. I think Democratic lawmakers have always known that, even if it has escaped the ken of hysterical fantasists like Lawrence O’Donnell. They persisted, I conjecture, because they thought it a useful distraction. The Susan Rice implosion pretty much put paid to that, I’d wager, and the strike against Syria rendered it utterly surreal. The result? Bluster from Russia followed by . . . crickets. “Russia Warns of Serious Consequences from U.S. Strike in Syria,” screamed a Reuters headline. You betcha. But Rex Tillerson is still scheduled to go to Moscow next week. Good timing. For one very serious consequence is that Russia now knows that this President of the United States is not planning to “lead from behind” as did his predecessor. Look for a marked adjustment in their posture.

Then there is the wide, wide world beyond Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. That clickety-clack-clack-clack sound you hear are the beads of the great foreign policy abacus recalculating its estimation of Donald Trump. He is not one of them, not part of the international administrative nomenklatura. But he is the most powerful man in the world and he means business. Who knew?

An interesting question is whether the bulbous Kim Jong-un has absorbed the memo. Since Kim inhabits a paranoid empyrean almost as surreal as the one occupied by Lawrence O’Donnell, it is hard to say with certainty. I hope so. The Carl Vinson Strike Group is steaming toward the Korean peninsula as I write and will be able to repeat the message in capital letters if necessary. Perhaps, if all goes well, President Xi will take a moment to whisper it in Kim’s ear as well.

Gregory of Tours began his History of the Franks (circa 590) with the unexceptionable observation that “A great many things keep happening, some of them good, some of them bad.” Donald Trump’s strike against Syria reminds us that no matter what happens the grackles of the press will fill the air with apodictic static. Take a look at the press reaction to the Syrian strike. In how many stories does the word “must” appear? “Now Donald Trump must . . .” Fill in the blank of that deontic imperative: He must consult Congress, reassure our allies/his base/Rosie O’Donnell, etc.

Substantively, most of that noise is barely distinguishable from static. But at the risk of adding to that chorus let me say what I think the Syria strike shows.

First, it shows that Donald Trump understands that a powerful state does not have the luxury of disengagement. His policy is America First: quite right. But in order to put America First, one must recognize that America inhabits a rivalrous and often hostile world of competing interests. America First does not mean America Alone.

Second, the attack on Syria takes its place beside a host of other initiatives, large and small, that Trump and his team have undertaken in the less than three months they have been in office. The Keystone pipeline. The enforcement of the country’s immigration laws. The Executive Order reorganizing, and trimming, the Executive Branch. The attack on the regulatory overreach that has stifled business and hampered freedom. The proposed budget, which zeroes out such dinosaurs as the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. The shake up of the Department of Education with Betsy DeVos—and look for lots more there soon. The advent of a United States Ambassador with backbone as our representative to the UN. The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. And on and on. The media keeps telling us how chaotic and disorganized the Trump administration is. Don’t look now, but the most impressive Cabinet in decades has been acting with astonishing speed to keep the promises Trump made on the campaign trail.

Above all, the strike against Syria shows that Donald Trump—pace the insane maundering of unhappy females in need of a new haberdasher, pasty-faced academics, and hysterical newscasters and passed-over pundits—is leading in a calm, deliberate, eminently presidential fashion. You might not like some of his chosen modes of communication; you might think using Twitter is unserious or that his colloquial diction is unstatesmanlike. But what we’ve witnessed in less than three months is not only the normalization of Donald Trump everywhere but in the fever swamps of political disenfranchisement, but also his emergence as a figure of rare competence and command. He is well on his way, I believe, to making America great again.

Content created by The Center for American Greatness, Inc is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact

Support Free & Independent Journalism Your support helps protect our independence so that American Greatness can keep delivering top-quality, independent journalism that's free to everyone. Every contribution, however big or small, helps secure our future. If you can, please consider a recurring monthly donation.

Want news updates?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

75 responses to “Trump’s Realism: America First Not America Alone”

  1. The first two comments sum up all current political commentary.

  2. This is pure Bunk from a long time trump supporter.

    Sorry Mr. Kimball, but floating offshore and firing cruise missiles at a standing target… totally on personal whim… does not make a ‘great America. Do you like “personal whim” violence, Mr. Kimball? This time it was aimed at a Syrian air force base… what next time when mr trump has a tweet moment? Who dies?

    Kimball describes trump as…
    “leading in a calm, deliberate, eminently presidential fashion.”

    Since when? Sleazy trump still hasn’t provided ‘proof’ of obama wiretapping him… trump’s rookie family members… are playing backstabbing games in the white house… trump’s tweets that are impossible to challenge or respond to are his main way of ‘communicating. And meanwhile… Mexico is still not paying for trump’s wall.

    Not to mention that trump is still hiding his tax returns – Why, mr kimball?

    Kimball needs to open his eyes, and get real – trump is dangerous irrational ‘el presidente’. We woudl be far better off if trump would resign… and go run a reality tv show.

    • Haven’t run across you in some time. I was beginning to wonder if you were alright. Good to see you back.

    • Kimball’s mind and eyes are wide open elucidated by this substantive and measured article. What refutation can you offer to his claims? Despite Trump’s inarticulate speech, inelegant appearance, often loutish behavior, he is proving himself more an agent for our citizenry than the elegantly dressed, smoothly spoken (but hardly profound and generally hollow), unctuously charming Obama. Give me a president who listens and learns rather than one who knew little when he came in and left only more clueless yet more confident in his own abilities. In every way, Obama left country compromised and Trump is picking up the pieces, one by one in these very early days.

      • Have you checked trump’s approval ratings lately? Have you noticed trump’s dwindling advisors? trump listens to no one but himself… and his family. Even today he rarely takes his national security briefings.

        And tell us… why do your trumpers always attempt to rationalize trump’s poor conduct & actions by claiming, ‘obama did it too’?

        Did you like obama’s conduct & actions too?

      • The major difference is one was talk and no action, the other talks and takes action.
        Keep in mind; the problems thus nation MUST face up to AND FIX were there before Trump revealed he was running for the White House; Trump did not create our problems and Trump did not take them to the White House with him!
        Our nations problems have been developing, festering, and being ignored for the past 12 years. Neither the two presidents preceding Trump or our congress has done much more than talk about the problems but NEVER taken any real effort to do anything about the costly and passive approach Obama has come to be known for; his attitude of do nothing and the problems will go away has hurt this country more than any previous president has done; it will take us years and years to fix what the Obama Administration has done to us all!

      • Utter nonsense.

        Bad ‘conduct & action’ is bad conduct & action – regardless of who commits it.

        That obama was ‘bad’ is a given. That in no ways makes it acceptable for trump to emulate obama – indeed, that is a betrayal of what REAL Republicans that voted for trump thought they were getting.

      • I was backing John McCain when he was running for president; the same time Obama made his first White House run. When McCain declared Sarah Palin as his running mate I dumped McCain and actually ended up voting for Obama. I was happy to see the mold broken and I had high hopes Obama would do a good job in the White House. His first term though was a continual fight as Mitch McConnell pushed his “mission of failure” doing what ever he could to see Obama failed; it worked! Obama’s first term was a miserable failure.
        His second term seemed to be driven by a fear of confronting the GOP for anything; like he feared being beaten down again, – or it was – get even time which seemed to become his primary goal – do nothing for fear of having to face another failure!
        His second run was expected to be better though as McConnell had no reason then to continue his mission against Obama. HOWEVER, after the first year of his second term it was obvious Obama was failing on his own. His only asset was is golden tongue and his $2,2 billion dollar marketing budget he used to buy the media who through more greed than American pride, they were ready to say and do anything Obama paid them for, all too quick to sell out and feed the American people the Obama Agenda!

      • Have you not noticed, though, that Trump doesn’t have the political capital or legislative experience to get any real legislation through? His ACA repeal failed and they are already shelving his tax plan. The GOP has outright said they won’t fund his wall and his budget is a no go. Yet he bombs an empty air base with no long term plan for the region (or at least not one he’s articulated) and suddenly he’s all action?

        You may dislike Obama, but there’s no denying he actually got much of his agenda pushed through in the first 2 years of his term. Trump’s party controls the senate and the house, yet his management of the White House has been such a failure that it’s unlikely he’ll be able to pass much of any of his agenda in his first 100 days.

        Why? Because it’s becoming abundantly clear that Trump just says whatever he thinks sounds good at the time. He never had workable or realistic policies, nor does he have the skill or knowledge to craft workable policy even if he wanted to. Heck, he doesn’t even really seem to have any real political beliefs. He rode to victory as a right wing nationalist, but that didn’t help his numbers. So now he’s handing the keys to the white house over to his children (a newspaper editor and a fashion designer) in the hopes of getting love by tacking to the center.

        Yes, we should all be terrified.

      • Trump knows that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Trump likes the Art of the Deal more than any other part of the experience.

        Yeah, Republicans had to make a pass at repealing Obamacare, and the failure is a much more revealing experience than just replacing bad law with bad law. It’s not Trump’s fault Republicans hadn’t put together a solid plan over the last seven years. Republicans’ failure to put together a plan that could win majority support – when they had nothing but time to think about it – is as bad as Obama’s promise of “shovel-ready jobs” that turned out to be nonexistent. Trump was willing to support Republicans’ ineffective plan. And Democrats are as willing as ever to turn their backs on people who are suffering under Obamacare. You know, those stupid fools who thought that if they liked their plan they could keep their plan, exactly as Obama promised, and exactly as Ben Rhodes saw was needed to get the bill passed. And if those words turn out to be worthless, then as Joe Biden would say, “big f*cking deal.”

        Meanwhile Obamacare is still failing and everybody who isn’t deeply invested in its success sees it. Republicans had nothing to do with that. Democrats decided hundreds of times that the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall make whatever decision seems best to him/her/it at the moment. Obama decided to unilaterally not enforce major parts of the law like the employer mandate, which should have taken effect years ago, but still hasn’t. Trump is the only thing standing between every American and the employer mandate.

        And that’s just Obamacare. For several years now, it has been America’s official position that Assad must go, and he’s still there. North Korea has been firing missiles for twenty years and now Trump is trying to fix the problem. National debt, damaging regulations, people with security clearances leaking information, all of this preceded Trump.

      • Basically, you are laying the foundation for the rejection of the GOP establishment in Congress, not Trump’s leadership. Congress has been the failure, not Trump.

      • Our major problems started 12 years ago when Bush was president; he left office handing off some critical tasks to Obama. Obama spent eight years ignoring the Bush problems and adding his own without taking any action to do what had to be done with the Bush mess or his own; other than a lot of great speeches and handing out tax payers money to impress specific groups through the bought and paid for televised media.
        Obama had a $2.2 billion dollar marketing budget he used to market his agenda; the majority of that money went to the media who was more than happy to grab their share of the Tax Payers $19 + trillion dollar payouts. Some believe much of that $2.2 billion dollar marketing budget was spent in a “pay ahead” effort to keep the media spinning the Obama and Democrats campaign for the next four years!

      • Working backwards, no, I loathed Obama’s actions and conduct. His constant intrusions in all racial matters displaying a biased cluelessness unmatched by any public figure. Obama spent more money with nothing, no infrastructure improvement , no improved test scores (worst ever recorded) to show for it. He compromised national security (the dangerous Iranian deal, the embarrassing Bergdahl exchange, and corrupted every so-called non-political department (Justice, IRS, State).
        No, I will never claim Trump or Obama acted similarly to the coming benefit of our country. I do fear one thing: the Dems are so partisan and committed to the Trump fall, they will jeopardize the well-being of all our citizens to divide us and win elections. We barely survived Obama; we’ll never survive another clueless, profligate, Constitutionally-challenged, left leaning chief executive.
        And I was no Trumpster but I’m becoming one.
        Obama should go to Hollywood as he surely plays to his audience and has the intellectual limits so characteristic of those overpaid parasites. He’ll fit right in there.

      • Convincing yourself that trump is good simply because obama was bad… is foolishness.

        ‘Bad’ is bad. Suit yourself.

    • You need help. If Kimball is unbalanced in his support of Trump, you are the flip side of that same coin. The fact that you cannot abide an article that praises Trump’s action in Syria and it compels you to spend time spewing juvenile and petty insults towards Trump and his family (complete with refusing to capitalize his name) pretty much says it all.

      My advice is to take some time away from politics. There is more to life than this.

  3. Even a broken clock is right twice a day and the malfunctioning clock that is the White House finally got it right…more than two months into Trump presidency. Credit must be given to the President for his decisive action but let us not delude ourselves into thinking he is “figure of rare competence and command.” Nothing previous to this action betrays a scintilla of competence much less command. I hope this moment of sanity and good judgement is repeated in the near future. I am not nearly so deluded that he will be consistent in any way.

    • According to what you just wrote, he is consistent in his inconsistency. So which is it ace? You’re “the Cardinal.” You should know.

    • Your ‘president’ is a draft dodger who beat his wife.

      You think that is ‘kicking ass’?

      • I would think it ‘sucks’ to be your lord trump… big coward that beats up on women… and then lies his way out of it.

        Why do you like liars?

      • They probably voted democrat, needed a lesson. You are so full of it.

      • As Bill Clinton said to Juanita Broaddrick, “You should put some ice on that.”

      • You can keep your doctors… I didn’t have sex… well, you get the idea. You can come up with some on Hillary and show your even handedness.

      • Okay, where’s the “beats up on women?” claim come from?

      • The same way u like liars – slick willy, ankle fat and soetoro are all expert at it.

      • Poor little snowflake still sore over the loss of the pantsuit queen

      • It is instructive to note that the left has never accepted a Republican president this century — somehow or other it always rationalizes to itself that the Republican victor was illegitimate in some way, and therefore it is is “patriotic” to “resist.” It’s a recognizable pattern of an inability to accept their failures and learn from them. Hence, we have the ” draft dodger who beat his wife.” Makes HB feel better about himself, I guess.

      • <My president,Your president, Our president, has his hands full in trying to fix the mess' two previous presidents over the past 12 years created and left office for someone else to fix!
        Now, rather than get in line and do what any of them can do to help fix the mess, those in congress who have been living off the Tax Payers money for the 12 years are still setting back doing nothing but complaining and pointing fingers at others.
        The problems have become even greater as those who HAD THE RESPONSIBILITIES to attend to them in those 12 years are refusing to accept their part of the responsibilities for ignoring the need for action and now want to pretend these problems were brought on by Trump!
        Who, in or outside politics, can honestly say we do not have major national problems, or, can with any sincerity say these problems were created by Trump!
        Trump inherited a multitude of major problems that grew and festered in serous proportions as Trump's two predecessors ignored them. Trump has taken on the problems and we can only hope he will continue to take the fight wherever it needs to be to see that these national problems are fixed; it will be a challenge as these problems are now Trumps problems and his responsibility to do what can be done to fix the, – a mess 12 years of political passiveness and uninvolved leadership has brought to this country?
        The ONLY THING that will stop us from seeing these problems fixed is a congress that instead of standing up to their duty and responsibilities continues standing in front of TV cameras and pointing fingers and blaming others for the problems! These politicians from BOTH SIDES of the house must start earning their pay and doing their duty!
        As James Garfield said, " If the power to do hard work is not talent, it is the best possible substitute for it." It seem to many of those we have elected and sent to Washington lack both the talent and possible substitute for the needed talent to get anything done!
        We, the people of this nation – MUST FORCE our elected representtaioves to get out from in front of the cameas, get into congressional chanmbers, study the problmes, debate the rpoblmes, find the BEST FIX for the mess and do what they get paid for; FIX THE LESS – – and stop acting like immature idiots!

      • So… how do you figure trump is flailing away at this?

      • Which one is that, Bus, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump? Just as in congress, there are more presidents that have never served in the military than has.
        Our current, longest war in our history, is a perfect example of what happens when a person who lacks leadership skills, has to little experience in program or project management, and their only claim to fame is an exceptional college certificate is handed the reins of our country!

      • trump was a failed ceo:

        For 10 years between 1995 and 2005, Donald Trump ran Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts — and he did it so badly and incompetently that it collapsed into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. His stockholders were almost entirely wiped out, losing a staggering 89% of their money. … A review of the company’s public filings show that over that period, while his ordinary investors were getting hosed, Trump himself was siphoning millions out of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts through salary, “bonuses”

        Bush was a successful Governor of Texas, winning two terms.

        These two examples speak directly to what you are stating… and trump is clear & distant 2nd to other real Leaders.

      • Yup. Trump has many, many flaws. But thank the Lord he saved us from a felon, who sold 1/4 of our uranium stockpile to the Russians. Not to mention all the other high crimes and misdemeanors. While Trump is less than ideal, he is head and shoulders above the only alternative we had in Nov.

      • Out of 10 billion dollar empire you will have failures. Whats in you wallet brother buff?

      • Bunk.

        Your lord trump is afraid to even show his tax returns.

        What is trump hiding?

      • Draft dodger who beat his wife — evidence, and how long ago was this claim from left field?

      • “Asked why he didn’t serve, Trump said, “I had student deferments and ultimately had a medical deferment because of my feet. I had a bone spur.” But Trump said he did not recall which foot was injured and instructed reporters to look up his records.

        Trump playing basketball… while on medical draft deferment.

        trump beating on women – his wife:
        Actually, there is only one candidate in 2016 who has faced credible charges of sexual assault: Donald Trump, whose first wife Ivana swore in a divorce deposition that he ripped out her hair and raped her (an accusation she recently withdrew). Perhaps Trump should disclose those divorce papers

        Facts, buddy.
        trump is a cowardly draft dodger that beat his wife.

      • It doesn’t matter – he had a deferment then drew a high number, as did thousands of other young Americans. Incidentally, by the time Trump graduated from college, the war in Vietnam had reached its apex. Nixon began withdrawals in early 1969 (I was there.)

      • “Facts buddy”—–You wouldn’t know a fact if it was a 1000 lb safe that fell on your head!
        And you know damn well about the following, but being a cry baby, pathetic piece of garbage it doesn’t fit into your nutcase narrative!

        “Donald Trump’s ex-wife is disputing a story published by The
        Daily Beast that reported that she had accused Trump of rape in a court deposition from the 1990s.
        “I have recently read some comments attributed to me from
        nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald. The story is totally without merit,” Ivana said in a statement to CNN. “Donald and I are the best of friends and together have raised three children that we love and are very proud of. I have nothing but fondness for Donald and wish him the best of luck on his campaign. Incidentally, I think he would make an incredible president.”

      • So, Ivana lied under oath?

        That is a felony, is it not?

      • Every time you post you prove you “are a cry baby piece of garbage”!
        So now you want to send Ivana to jail???????????????????
        Get a life you piece of scum!!!!!!!!!!!

      • If he unwinds the mess soetoro created, i will take him. No one is perfect.

  4. Totally agree with this headline. Whether America likes it or not, it must lead the western world. America had lost its moral authority by not intervening in Syria. The irony is that America went in when it shouldn’t have under Bush, and didn’t go in when it should have under Obama. The repercussions of this are only just beginning to manifest themselves and will play out for decades if President Trump, too, sits on his hands. The big problem for the West is that it’s forgotten what it’s about thanks to poor education of its young people who haven’t a clue about their history and how hard won were the freedoms that they are abusing today.

    • The cult of Trump is just so bizarre to me. For years he’s been hardcore isolationist vis-a-vis foreign policy. To the point that there are a whole bunch of his own tweets criticizing Obama for wanting to intervene in Syria back in 2013. And his supporters cheered him on for this during the election. Now he bombs Syria, erratically contradicting basically everything he ran on and……his supporters cheer and pretend like they were never isolationists to begin with.

      He proves his “I could shoot someone on first ave and they would still love me” comment daily.

  5. Trump only did what barry-o should have done after his ‘red line’ flaccid warning

  6. “There are no signs that the nation-building moral imperialism of the Bush era is making a comeback.”

    I heartily agree that the Syrian strike was strategically well-timed, from the delightful after dinner conversation with President Xi, to Tillerson’s pending meeting with Putin and for the half pint pest in North Korea. President Trump let it be known that he doesn’t draw lines in the sand, he orders Tomahawk missile strikes. The apoplectic reaction of Trump’s critics makes the schadenfreude more delicious. Well done, Mr. Kimball.

  7. The 59-cruise-missile demonstration achieved its ostensible purpose, which was not to punish Assad, but to let our friends and adversaries know that the new US President is no patsy, as the previous one was. It also may have fulfilled someone else’s covert purpose: to drive a wedge between the United States and Russia, thereby frustrating Mr Trump’s oft-stated inclination to work with Mr Putin to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) and likely agree on a multi-lateral solution to the Syrian civil war(s). Who was that ‘someone else’? The al Qaeda affiliates posing as anti-Assad ‘rebels’? Anti-Russian hawks in the Defense or State Departments? Was the poison-gas explosion was a ‘false flag’, intended to set up Assad as the perpetrator? The Associated Press is now spreading a scandalous rumor from an anonymous “senior U.S. official” that “Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming.” How can we do business with such villains?

    Fortunately Secretary Tillerson is headed to Moscow, so there is no better time to demonstrate the “calm, deliberate, eminently presidential” leadership that Mr Kimball describes. The grown-ups have to take charge before the provocateurs on the ground or in the bureaucracies force the major powers to abandon their proxies and confront each other. We don’t want nuclear powers shooting at each other, and that’s where we’re headed if cooler heads can’t stop it.

    There is still time for real coordination between the US and Russia to achieve a Syria acceptable to both parties, neither a fractured Libya full of Islamist tribes, nor a scorched-earth wasteland. In another post on this site, Brandon J. Weichert suggested finding another Alawite leader to replace Basher al Assad. That might at least offer a hope of a more-or-less secular government that (like Assad’s) will remain tolerant of religious minorities, and maybe refrain from overt hostilities against Israel. The next week or so may show whether that hope is realistic, or not.

    /L. E. Joiner

  8. I like the piece. I agree with it. But for us poor masses, a few less “empyreans. grackles, and coruscates” would help us public school educated readers to not stumble through it.

    • I had to look up eight words in this piece. Marvelous! I love seeing the English language put to full use!

  9. Outside of his pretty loyal base (I’m still there, though I’m less confident ’bout ’20. No such thing as loyalty w/out end for presidents and princes) I think Syria normalized him in a way that a policy win couldn’t have.

    I also think something VDH wrote yesterday is important: that President Trump’s cunning and Twitter-play is more robust than it seems.

    • Absolutely the same realisation I had. Well said. Whichever 16 may or may not (I was all in for Walker) but in the primaries people didn’t trust the 16.

      • You can see via the latest GOP attempt at governance that they’re green. No shame in that, it’s not like they’ve had near the experience the Dems had for the near century they held legislative sway.

        The shame, if my assessment is correct, is in their lifer status as legislators. Real honest-to-goodness good rarely comes the common man’s way when legislators are in the gig for life.

        I’m neither fan or opponent of the HFC but I ‘m grateful to them for stopping Ryan and Trump in their single-class-focus tracks. I never voted for anyone I wanted to run roughshod over congress.

        The main thing, Sig, is that all like minded folk of good will not consider Trump anything other than our First stand.

        Take care and if you celebrate, Happy Easter. And if you don’t, all the best.

      • Happy Easter to you and yours. We live in interesting times.

  10. Obama will forever be known for his talk and no action, for his philosophy of, -do nothing and in time the problems will go away- attitude, leadership and program management approach!

  11. I said in an earlier post that Trump’s political capital is like Prometheus’s liver: devoured and then regenerated.

    President Trump is an unknown force. It’s gonna be one helluva ride.

  12. Very good article; hit the nail on the head so many times I lost count.

  13. Excellent article. Thank you for the clarity and insight.

  14. Yep. It’s amazing how the monkeys act after watching a chicken be eviserated.

  15. The world is a nasty place. I am betting that the Straits of Hormuz can be used by the world’s oil tankers without worry that Iran will control that waterway. Like it or not, the US is the top dog. I am glad that we will smack down these tin horn dictators. Good for us- good for western culture.

  16. whatta crocko sheet
    trump acted because some video went viral
    he still couldn’t identify the real players, and his staff has no cohesive explanation for his f’n lunacy

  17. “The Carl Vinson Strike Group is steaming toward the Korean peninsula as I write and will be able to repeat the message in capital letters if necessary.”

    Uh, no. No, it won’t. This is why I face palm so often when reading clueless political pundits. If we’re going to talk foreign policy and greatness, a passing acquaintance with the situation on the ground and realistic military capabilities seems like a reasonable minimum requirement.

    Neither South Korea nor the USA wants to open armed hostilities with North Korea, and the reason isn’t nukes. China has good reason to avoid that, too, unless it has no choice.

    The Carl Vinson and its group will be very quiet, unless we want 10,000+ NK artillery tubes to level Seoul with a sustained barrage fired from hardened and dug-our positions. Casualties in 6 figures would be a near-certainty. Even if you assume we know each gun position, it isn’t possible to take them all out in a timely way. Do the math, compute in failure rates given CEP and hardening, etc. Now, what happens to the USA’s position in the region if it kicks that off by itself? Right.

    SK also took a look at what reunification cost Germany, and has to wonder what including millions of much more brainwashed pre-industrials would do to their finances and their democracy. Emotion often trumps logic, but the aftermath is not an incentive.

    China would rather avoid the waves of refugees pouring in if NK collapses. They would also prefer to Finlandize SK, using the NK threat as leverage. But if NK is slipping its leash and Japan/SK start seriously talking about building nukes, China’s calculus could change somewhat. Other developments of comparable magnitude could also change China’s position, but it won’t happen causally. “Why don’t they launch a coup in their client?” you ask. Um, why do you think the current progressive Dear Leader is executing people with AA guns and nerve gas?

    Syria and NK are related in only the most tangential way. And assuming that the USA can just steamroll the the East the way it does in the Middle East betrays profound ignorance.

  18. Black Jesus was a fiction created by those who would destroy America. Americans gritted their teeth and stayed silent. Americans are polite. Too polite. Democrats deceive. They throw out the likes of Bathhouse Barry to see if Americans will take the bait. We did. We thought Bathhouse Barry would tell black kids to pull their pants up. He didn’t. That’s on us Democrats, you got one over on us. Good one. We’ve armed up. There will never be another Bathhouse Barry selling out America again. Thank you. We needed to know who you were. We thought you were us, with a different point of view. We know better now. Thank you, Democrats. You wear masks and call yourselves Antifa. Brown shirts. We’ve seen the likes of you before.

  19. Bravo, Roger! Bravo! Could the nattering nabobs of negativity be going into silent mode? We’ll see.

  20. I would not bet money that the referenced attack was gas. For one thing, sarin is liquid, not gas. Second, it is colorless, not yellow. Third, the “experts” who claim it sarin would be destroyed by explosions have rocks in their heads – explosions cause gases and liquids to disperse. There is also the issue of who benefits from the claim that it is a gas attack – the rebels. In short, I think Mr. Trump was suckered into committing an impeachable act. Where he goes from here remains to be seen but Syria is a quagmire that the Obama administration got us in.

  21. You were wrong about the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group. I wonder what else you might be wrong about?