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



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.


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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Corbyn sides with CHINA as he launches attack on Boris's alliance with US and Australia



JEREMY CORBYN sparked uproar after siding with China in a row over Britain’s new defence pact with the United States and Australia.

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Angry French ambassador shows true colours by reminding Biden about naval victory over UK



BREXIT Britain’s newly forged defence deal with Australia and the US infuriated French Ambassador to America, Philippe Etienne, who took a bitter swipe at his transatlantic allies.

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China, France furious at new U.S. security alliance with Britain, Australia



HONG KONG — America’s new security alliance with Britain and Australia was always likely to be greeted with fury by China, the unspoken target of Washington’s latest effort to reinforce its influence in the region.

And it was. But the pact also incensed France, a longtime ally that felt its Indo-Pacific interests had been torpedoed by the submarine-centered agreement.

At a news briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the pact “seriously undermined regional peace and stability, exacerbated the arms race and undermined international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.”

Zhao added that any regional alliance “should not target or harm the interests of third parties.”

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In a briefing before Wednesday evening’s announcement, a Biden administration official stressed that the pact “is not aimed at any one country.”

But the AUKUS deal comes as the U.S. steps up its efforts to counter China.

It will allow Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, using technology that the U.S. had only previously shared with Britain. The pact also allows for greater collaboration between the three countries on cyber capabilities and artificial intelligence, as well as in other areas.

It will also make Australia the seventh country in the world to have nuclear-powered submarines, after the U.S., Britain, France, China, India and Russia. Unlike those other countries, Australia does not have nuclear weapons.

“The U.S. has only ever shared this technology with the U.K., so the fact that Australia is now joining this club indicates that the United States is prepared to take significant new steps and break with old norms to meet the China challenge,” said Sam Roggeveen, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, in a statement shared with NBC News.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra have been in a downward spiral, with the U.S. ally emerging as a key bulwark in the West’s efforts to combat China’s growing influence.

China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, has embarked on a trade war in return.

There now appears little prospect for improved ties, which the Australian government will have taken into consideration, according to Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst in defense strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.

“I think China will probably increase the pressure on us as a result of this, but frankly we need to do this in order to ensure our security,” he said.

But it’s not just China that was irked by the deal.

France also expressed outrage after the agreement brought its own deal to build submarines for Australia, inked in 2016, to an abrupt end.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly voiced their displeasure in a joint statement.

“The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region,” they said, “shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret.”

A visibly angry Le Drian later described the announcement as “a stab in the back.”

“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do,” he said on France-Info radio.

“We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed,” he added. “This is not done between allies.”

Australia signed a 2016 deal with French shipbuilder Naval Group to build it a new submarine fleet worth $40 billion.Naoya Masuda / Yomiuri Shimbun via AP file

Parly said Thursday that the government would try to minimize the financial impact of the canceled deal on submarine manufacturer Naval Group, which is mostly state-owned.

Asked whether France would seek compensation from Australia, she did not rule it out.

Being sidelined by the new alliance was a “big disappointment” for French trade, according to Frédéric Charillon, a political science professor at France’s Clermont Auvergne University.

“But, what is probably more worrying now is…the lack of confidence that is now growing between the Biden administration and at least some of the European alliance, including France,” he said.

Washington appears to be fueling “the impression that maybe the new administration (is) not that different from the last,” Charillon added.

In New Zealand opposition leaders questioned why Australia’s neighbor and close ally had been left out of the loop.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that her government had not been approached as part of the pact, “nor would I expect us to be.”

But she added that any nuclear-powered submarines Australia acquired would not be allowed in the country’s territorial waters, since its longstanding nuclear-free policy forbids the entry of vessels powered by nuclear energy.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that in spite of the hard feelings among both rivals and some allies, this was simply an opportunity his country couldn’t turn down.

The advantages of nuclear submarines were clear, he said: “They’re faster, they have greater power, greater stealth, more carrying capacity.”

“Australians would expect me as prime minister to ensure that we have the best possible capability to keep them safe and to be unhindered in pursuing that as best as I possibly can,” he added. “And that is what I have done.”

Jennifer Jett reported from Hong Kong, and Chantal Da Silva reported from Toronto.

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