The “New Day” panel on CNN Monday called President Donald Trump’s recent bombing of an ISIS target in Afghanistan nothing more than the “mother of all distractions.”
“Is there a new Trump doctrine in the making, or has the president simply found a formula for distracting the public and the media from his troubles at home?” wrote William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, on CNN.
“It’s kind of a P.T. Barnum foreign policy,” Hartung said, citing the former showman. “Look what I’ve done here, look what I’ve done there, look over there. But none of them has had any real kind of military effect. In fact, in Syria, they were using the airfield the next day. In Afghanistan, one bomb is not going to change the problem. The preemptive threats in North Korea didn’t work, in terms of the missile. I think he is trying to project toughness, that he’s the new sheriff in town, different from [President Barack] Obama. But, in fact, none of these things is dramatic unless, of course, he escalates, in which case we could be in trouble.”
He went on to say that Trump is sending mixed signals. Trump’s attack on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could end up making him look stronger, according to Hartung. As for North Korea, threatening a preemptive strike does nothing to Kim Jong Un, he continued.
“If you don’t have a diplomatic strategy to back it up, you don’t get anywhere,” said Hartung. “Under Clinton, they had threats, but they also had reciprocal back-and-forth steps and froze his program for the bulk of that administration. As soon as the Bush administration stopped talking, that is when the build up accelerated. The notion that military threats are going to change a regime that cares only about survival, I think it is a pipe dream.”
When it comes to the larger picture, he argued that it’s Trump that is trying to prove that this is a tactical decision and that he’s a different person than Obama.
“President Obama dropped 12,000 bombs on Syria in the last year,” he continued. “That is not somebody not taking military action. If Trump wants to double down, I think we have seen in all of our conflicts that bombing doesn’t solve the problems. Even major generals talked about this.”