- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Donald Trump in a recent interview with the paper press said he wasn’t sending U.S. troops into Syria, and that America’s policy with all-dealings-Bashar-Assad and ISIS hadn’t changed.

But his clarifying only added to the confusion.

This is what he said to the New York Post: “Our policy is the same, it hasn’t changed. We’re not going into Syria.” He then added: “Our big mission is getting rid of ISIS. That’s where it’s always been. But when you see kids choking to death, you watch their lungs burning out, we had to hit him [Bashar Assad] and hit him hard.”

So let’s get this straight: Our policy in Syria has been simply to take out ISIS. But we just attacked an Assad-controlled airbase because we were outraged at images of dead children, reportedly killed by regime chemical weapons, and because we wanted to send a message to Assad to quit the chemical warfare.

But our policy in Syria has always been simply to take out ISIS — always had, always will. Nothing’s changed.

Come again?

You can’t claim a mission of fighting ISIS when you’re sending in strikes against Assad.

And you can’t claim a mission of taking out ISIS when you’re referring to images of children as cause for hitting Assad “hard.”

It’s confusing, Mr. President. And what’s even more confusing is when you have U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley say on recent television news shows that America might pursue a regime change, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on different shows in the same time span, discount that whole regime change argument.

Haley, on CNN on Sunday: “Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria.”

Tillerson on CBS on Sunday: “Our priority in Syria … really hasn’t changed. I think the president has been quite clear. First and foremost, we must defeat ISIS.”

OK. Except — Trump hasn’t been that clear. And still isn’t.

Russia and Iran are ticked about the strikes — and on that, good. Trump, with his unilateral action, surely sent the message that Barack Obama he is not — diplomacy and concessions aren’t his go-to foreign policy tools.

He gets an “A” for getting rid of the wussy Obama shadow America’s been hunkered under for eight years.

But on clarity? On being “clear,” as Tillerson put it? Trump scores low. When words and actions, and even words and words, don’t match, you can’t simply declare something “clear” and expect the fogginess to magically disappear.

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