The Trump administration failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, even with a watered down bill aimed at pleasing Democrats. Significant tax reform will not happen until 2018. With the trigger of the chemical attack carried out in Syria, the Trump administration has shifted their focus from domestic to foreign policy.
Since the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare the Trump administration has struck both Syria and now Afghanistan with major air strikes. Rhetoric between the United States and North Korea has reached a boiling point. Russia remains the wildcard in the Middle East and the Trump administration has stated that they are now closely observing Russia.
The gas attack carried out by Assad according to alleged evidence obtained by United States intelligence led to the Foreign Policy frenzy that has dominated the news cycle for the last two weeks. The chemical attack that killed dozens of Syrian civilians, including women and children, led to the first US led strike on Syria. It was a carefully orchestrated attack. The attack served to achieve several goals for the Trump administration.
First Trump wanted to send a strong message to Assad following the horrific pictures that came out of Syria that reckless killing of civilians will not be tolerated.
Secondly the attack served as dramatic theater for Chinese president Xi Jinping who was enjoying a five star dining experience while the attack took place. The take away for Jinping and the world was that North Korea could be next.
Thirdly it helped to at least confuse the narrative that Trump and certain members of his team are in bed with the Russians. Russia came out and immediately condemned the strike.
Until today Afghanistan has not been an even minor narrative in the Trump news cycle. That ended today when the US military dropped what they proudly touted as the largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan. The bomb targeted a series of tunnels and infrastructure just several miles east of Kabul in Afghanistan. In an ironic twist of history, the United State’s Central Intellegence Agency built the series of tunnels with the help of Bin Laden. The US built the tunnels as part of their effort in arming and aiding the Mujahideen forces to fight the Soviets.
This bombing was obviously another message attack as much as it was logistically strategic. It definitely carried out Trump’s campaign promise to “bomb the shit out of them (ISIS).”
Even before this over the top display of US military capability today Trump has seen his poll numbers spike up to 48% according to Rasmussen.
North Korea has been on the neocon bucket list since the early days of George W. Bush. Iraq distracted Bush away from North Korea. However Trump has removed North Korea from the proverbial back burner to a high priority target. As I alluded to earlier the Syrian strike taking place while the President of China was dining at Mar-a-lago sent a clear message; take care of North Korea or we (United States) will.
Kim Jong un is not helping the situation by signaling reckless intentions.Kim Jong un is likely trying to please his own people with these aggressive and careless statements coming out of the North Korean regime. The statements are not likely meant to antagonize the West or China.
However the threats are giving the United States the leverage they need to pressure China to take out the regime and its nuclear threat. If China does not act the US will accumulate the geopolitical capital needed to take action unilaterally.