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Did Trump’s tweets on the Syria attack lock him into an even bigger military retaliation?

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In that case, the president ordered the bombing of the runway in Syria from which, the U.S. said, planes carrying the chemicals took off, even as he was hosting China’s President Xi Jinping in Mar-a-Lago. (And said he’d informed his guest of the military strike at dinner “over the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’d ever seen.”) U.S officials acknowledged that the runway was quickly rebuilt.

Clearly, last year’s strike did not deter Assad’s subsequent reported use of chemicals over the past year, and again this weekend, as alleged by opposition groups and medical teams from the White Helmets. Now the question is whether the condemnation today from Trump — who does not like to appear to be defied — will require him to launch another symbolic air strike, or take even stronger military action to avoid appearing weak on the global stage.

It is not clear what impact the reported atrocity will have on Trump’s expressed hope for an exit strategy from Syria, which is not only riling the Pentagon, but also alarming key allies including Israel and France. The Syrian situation, along with the Iran nuclear deal and proposed U.S tariffs against the European Union, were already going to be contentious issues that could spoil the first state visit in the Trump administration when France’s President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Washington in a few weeks.

There was a third irony in the president’s Sunday Twitter outburst. In his tweets, he blamed Iran and, importantly, Russia, without whose military intervention in 2015 Assad could not have survived. It was the first time he had strongly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin in a tweet.

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But Trump also held President Barack Obama responsible for Assad, tweeting Sunday, “If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line in The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!”

Indeed, there was a torrent of criticism against Obama for not taking military action against Assad over Labor Day weekend in 2013 in response to his use of chemical weapons in the civil war, severely undermining then-Secretary of State John Kerry, who had publicly telegraphed that a military response was imminent.

But now Trump has created his own red line against Assad, this time without a confirmed secretary of state and just as a new national security adviser is taking over on Monday. And reportedly he is increasingly ignoring the advice of his chief of staff, retired Gen. John Kelly, and resisting policies on Syria advocated by Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired four-star Marine.

Add to the confusion his recent, seemingly ad-libbed suggestion of inviting Putin, Assad’s protector, to the the White House. It all leaves Trump facing a complex series of military and foreign policy challenges that could confound the most adroit and well-staffed commander-in-chief.

In the days to come, Trump may well discover the perils of conducting foreign policy on Twitter.



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Verhofstadt attacked over 'farce of EU’s democratic values’ after rant against Orban

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GUY VERHOFSTADT’S attempt to interfere in Hungarian politics has been torn apart by observers who said the eurocrat was “illustrating the farce of so-called EU’s democratic values” with his rant.

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Oh dear, Nicola! Sturgeon's independence and EU dreams dismantled ‘Greece without the sun’

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NICOLA STURGEON’s separatist dream is nothing but a “tartan fantasy” which will cost Scotland £26billion a year and leave it in debt to the tune of £300billion, an economist has warned.

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Christine Wormuth set to lead Army as first female secretary

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BERLIN — President Joe Biden plans to nominate Christine Wormuth, a former senior Pentagon official, to be the first woman to lead the Army, the White House said Monday.

If confirmed by the Senate as Army secretary, Wormuth would be one of the more powerful officials in a defense establishment long dominated by men. She would work with the Army’s chief of staff, Gen. James McConville, who does not command soldiers but is responsible, along with the Army secretary, for training and equipping them.

Biden has not yet nominated anyone to serve as Air Force or Navy secretary. Many other Pentagon positions that require Senate confirmation also have yet to be filled. The most senior Defense Department nominee still awaiting Senate confirmation is Colin Kahl, picked to be under secretary of defense for policy. His nomination emerged from committee on a 13-13 vote and it’s unclear when the full Senate will act.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was traveling abroad when Wormuth’s nomination was announced, praised her track record.

“Christine is a true patriot with a dedicated career in service to America and our nation’s security,” he said in a prepared statement. He called her deeply experienced.

“I have no doubt that if confirmed she will lead our soldiers and represent their families with honor and integrity as the secretary of the Army,” Austin said.

Wormuth led Biden’s Pentagon transition team during the tumultuous period between the November election and Inauguration Day. She currently is director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corp., a federally funded think tank.

During the administration of former President Barack Obama, she served as the under secretary of defense for policy. She also served as the senior director for defense policy on Obama’s National Security Council and held other Defense Department positions.

Wormuth’s nomination would continue a Biden trend of choosing women and people of color for top Defense Department jobs. Austin is the first Black secretary of defense, and Kathleen Hicks is the first woman to hold the job of deputy defense secretary.

The White House also announced the nominations of Gil Cisneros to be undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Susanna Blume as director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, a key office that provides independent analysis and evaluation of major defense programs and activities. She currently is the interim director of that office and has previously held senior staff positions in the Pentagon.

Cisneros is a former member of Congress and a Navy veteran.

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