Does Syria strike tell us something about how Trump is making decisions?

Would you say that this quick decision process that led to Syria strike could be somehow symptomatic for President Donald Trump and what opportunities and risks it carries, especially when we are talking about decisions like using military power? Read few comments.

Jack GoldstoneProfessor of Public Policy, George Mason University

Speaking to an administration official who had served in both the Obama and now Trump administration, I am told that under Obama, it might take a dozen meetings to arrive at a decision; under Trump there may be a dozen decisions made in a single meeting!  So the pace of decision making is now wholly different.  In my own view, it now verges on the impulsive.  As we have seen in the health care negotiations, Trump wants a quick and decisive outcome or he moves on to something else.  He has no patience for prolonged discussions of complex matters that would spread difficult decisions over weeks or months.

The Syria decision puts countries like Iran, North Korea and even Russia and China on notice that a Trump administration will act swiftly when it feels that US interests demand it, or if it feels that “lines have been crossed.”   This pattern of course raises the risks of unanticipated consequences and whether the administration will have “plan B” alternatives prepared if the initial steps do not achieve their goal.  Yet it also raises the odds that other countries will cooperate more readily and respect US warnings if they know that swift military action may be forthcoming if agreements are not reached.

Mark Rozell, Dean and Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University

What many find worrisome is that Trump had previously been very clear that the US should not intervene in the affairs of other countries where there is no clear US interest at stake, and then suddenly he did the opposite. This seems a part of a pattern with him, that words don’t seem to matter and that he can take one position and then another and no one knows what he believes or how he might decide critical issues.

It is quite a major shift to say that Congress declares war and presidents cannot act unilaterally, and then to ignore Congress and act unilaterally.

David MislanAssistant Professor, School of International Service, American University

It’s hard to make sense of the Trump administration’s foreign policy because of its incoherence. There are specific values that inform Trump’s politics, but it’s difficult to see how they translate to action. The missile strike in Syria is a good example of this; there is no articulated goal, nor can one be teased out from the administration’s brief justification. Further, the strike contradicts the White House’s previously stated goal of eliminating ISIS. Weakening Assad strengthens ISIS, and vice versa.

This leads me to conclude that the missile strike was not a goal-driven action, but instead an emotional response to the horrific images broadcast following last week’s chemical weapons attack. What this says about Trump’s way of making foreign policy is not good for the United States or the national interest, which require deliberate and rational policymaking. Whether this week’s strike is a unique phenomenon or the start of a troubling pattern is uncertain, but I fear (because of the president’s lack of experience, his shown inability to take expert advice, and his bombastic personality) that we are looking st the latter.

 

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