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Trump can’t fix everything

January 30, 2019

“I alone can fix it.”

That’s what the current occupant of the Oval Office told cheering delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention.

He pointed to “war and destruction abroad” as one of the most critical challenges facing the United States. And he told the American people that he alone could “fix” it. Unfortunately, the only thing Donald J. Trump appears capable of fixing is the 2016 election that put him in office.

Despite denials and repeated lies that he took no part in violating federal election laws, the Justice Department has clearly identified him in court documents as an unindicted co-conspirator.

More criminal is Trump’s unilateral decision to pull 2,000 American troops out of Syria, thus ending a critical mission that supported rebels intent on ending the authoritarian regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The move places at risk our longtime allies, the Kurds, stymies the progress we’ve made against ongoing threats posed by ISIS, provides solace and assistance to Russian troops and the Iranian military, and could lead to a terrorist staging ground for Hezbollah.

In addition, Trump’s misguided actions have compromised the security of our chief ally in the Middle East — the State of Israel.

In Trump’s world view, making nice with murderous heads of state in Saudi Arabia is far more constructive to maintaining stability in the region than taking them to task and expressing outrage over the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Responsibility for the murder has been placed squarely at the doorstep of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by the president’s own intelligence advisers. The same prince whose government is committing ongoing war crimes against the people of Yemen. With the full support of this president.

At the outset of the Trump presidency, many in Washington were comforted when Trump surrounded himself with experienced, competent advisers like Chief of Staff John Kelly, whose feet are now halfway out the door of the Oval Office. Also among that group: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — gone. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — gone. And, now, Defense Secretary James Mattis — gone.

In Mattis’ letter of resignation, the defense secretary wrote, “I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model - gaining veto authority over other nation’s economic, diplomatic, and security decisions to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors.”

And there lies the rub, plain and simple: Russia. Remember, “No collusion?” Why then, within hours of the commander-in-chief’s move to withdraw troops from Syria, did Russian President Vladimir Putin laud Trump’s action? And why did Putin take it one step further and question when we would be withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan, only to have Trump acquiesce hours later by ordering the draw-down of half our forces now based there? No collusion, indeed.

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