During a segment with former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Gen. Jack Keane, Fox News’ Shepard Smith referenced several tweets from 2013 in which Donald Trump called on then-President Obama not to strike Syria:
“On June the 15th of 2013, he said: ‘We should stay the hell out of Syria, the ‘rebels’ are just as bad as the current regime. What will we get for our lives and $ billions? Zero.’ He also tweeted on August the 29th of that year: ‘What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.’
And then on September the 7th, he said: ‘President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your ‘powder’ for another (and more important) day!’
There are certainly risks in this matter. There is nothing to say that the Syrians might, instead of not acting again, act again to draw the United States in. I’m sure that’s been part of the calculation, general.”
Instead of piling on, the general rebutted Smith’s attacks, saying:
“Well, of course it is – but listen, something has happened here since those utterings that you just mentioned. The fact is an election was held, and on January 20th, this person became president of the United States.
I think what you’re seeing here frankly is someone who feels a sense of accountability and responsibility as the President of the United States, knowing he has the power to stop the horrendous act that’s taken place, to do something about it based on the moral underpinnings of this great country of ours, and other God-fearing people in the world.
And I think he – that is what is happening. He is now president. He’s no longer a guy like me, sitting on the outside, rendering opinions. He has the responsibility, and he feels accountable to it – and I think he’s made the right judgment here, to be quite frank about it, and we’ll see how it pans out.”
It’s incredibly easy to armchair quarterback Donald Trump – and on many occasions, it is indeed warranted. However, in this instance, Gen. Keane is correct.
In 2013, Trump was not the president, nor was he running for office. He was a private citizen who, according to his tweets, didn’t believe intervention in Syria was the expedient thing for then-President Barack Obama to do.
Now that Trump is the President of the United States, he has access to resources and intelligence to which he didn’t have access before. Additionally, the situation in Syria has grown increasingly volatile. Bashar al-Assad’s continued slaughter of his own people. As well as his repeated use of chemical agents like chlorine and sarin gas, has made it abundantly clear that the he will not play games of diplomacy. As such, a new approach is required.
In 2013, President Trump was a political naïf. However, his time in the Oval Office, as well as the developing situation in Syria. As clearly made an impact, forcing him to adopt a different perspective regarding Assad.
To condemn Trump by citing tweets from 2013 regarding Syria is disingenuous.