Yesterday President 45 did a 180 on foreign policy, forgetting his previous strong position against military intervention in the Syrian civil war by authorizing missile strikes on a Syrian government military air base.
Today an op-ed in the NY Times commented on the need for diplomatic follow-up:
The real test for Mr. Trump is what comes next. He has shown a total lack of interest in working to end Syria’s civil war. Now, the administration has leverage it should test with the Assad regime and Russia to restrain Syria’s air force, stop any use of chemical or biological weapons, implement an effective cease-fire in Syria’s civil war and even move toward a negotiated transition of power — goals that eluded the Obama administration.
At the same time, it must prevent or mitigate the possible unintended consequences of using force, including complicating the military campaign against the Islamic State. All this will require something in which the administration has shown little interest: smart diplomacy.
What is easy to lose track of in the midst of this round of war frenzy is the the president stripped the State Department of many layers of expertise, leaving our country ill equipped to pursue diplomatic options, with additional budget cuts of close to one-third proposed by the tRump budget.
A situation in which Washington’s cherry blossoms are in bloom, yet all top positions surrounding the secretary of State are vacant, is a sign that “the White House has completely mismanaged this transition.”
So said Nicholas Burns, a veteran Foreign Service officer who held high State Department positions in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, in an interview with Government Executive.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a transition event since World War I when it was nearly April and you have no deputy secretary of State named, no undersecretaries, no assistant secretaries–the entire leadership roster is vacant,” he said. “It’s extraordinary, and it’s unfair” to Secretary Rex Tillerson, whose nomination Burns supported.
The president is likely to look for someone else to blame when things start going from bad to worse due to the dismantling of our diplomatic infrastructure, but he has no one but himself to blame. Well, maybe Bannon.