Charlies Rose: Robert Costa on Trumps first 100 days

Robert Costa of the Washington Post assesses the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

  • Trump watches the polls very closely.
  • He wanted to show “strength” with Xi Jinping over Syria.
  • He doesn’t want to commit ground troops but to bomb from afar
  • Trump values conversations with his outside connections
  • Trump is very news driven, reading the newspapers, watching TV shows.

Trump’s Retreat From Populism

The Trump administration is in full retreat from its array of right-wing populist promises.

Instead of scrapping NAFTA, they are merely looking for minor adjustments. Instead of showing China who’s boss, they have retreated on Taiwan, and are promising a far more favorable stance on trade in exchange for whatever help China might offer on North Korea — while telegraphing that they know help is bound to be limited.

.. Most dramatically, Trump reversed the overwhelming thrust of his campaign with respect to foreign policy, ordering an attack on Syria and welcoming Montenegro into NATO, saying that the Atlantic alliance is “no longer obsolete.”

.. Most dramatically, Trump reversed the overwhelming thrust of his campaign with respect to foreign policy, ordering an attack on Syria and welcoming Montenegro into NATO, saying that the Atlantic alliance is “no longer obsolete.”

Faced with any difficult problem, he chooses the easiest way out, which in politics will mean appeasing whoever presents the most current threat.

Calling Successor a ‘Traitor’, Afghan Ex-Leader Denounces U.S. Bombing

Hamid Karzai .. accused the American military of using the presence of Islamic State militants to turn his country into a laboratory for testing its weapons.

.. they believed it was carried out for American domestic political reasons and as a way to send a message to other countries at odds with the United States, rather than strictly to fight terrorism in Afghanistan.

.. “The goal of this attack was for beyond Afghanistan — it was for showing American power to North Korea, Syria and some other countries; it was for scaring these countries,”

.. “The conclusion is that Daesh was a U.S. contractor, like DynCorp, like other U.S. companies, that they used to empty an area of its population and create a cause, create an environment, a psychological environment in which the U.S. can then test its weapon.”

.. analysts say they believe the latest American bombing has given him another political pretext to mobilize against the government.

.. The current Afghan authorities forcefully blame him for the corrupt institutions they inherited and are trying to peel away the layers of patronage that once made him a powerful player.

Just What Is Trump Trying to Do in Syria?

One week after the missile strike, we still don’t know what it was meant to accomplish.

Effective signaling in foreign policy and warfare is both vital and no simple matter, as every president discovers.

.. In the annals of pinprick strikes, Trump’s Tomahawk attack now stands as the pinprickiest.

.. That strike was undertaken in response to the discovery of an Iraqi plot to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush during a visit to Kuwait.

.. Iraq never again attempted to kill a U.S. president, and, indeed, never supported another terrorist attack against Americans

.. the Russians notified the Syrians, who reportedly moved their most important aircraft elsewhere before the strike. The very next day, Syrian airplanes were once again flying from the base to hit rebel targets.

.. from the perspective of international politics, the fact that the airstrip was in the use the next day was not negligible.

.. This attack possibly even eroded the chemical weapons taboo by convincing any would-be transgressors that the worst they could expect would be the loss of a small number of inessential aircraft after an advance warning—in other words, a slap on the wrist.

The clearest signal of all would have required a serious punitive attack on the regime itself, a step whose legality would be open to question and that would risk a dangerous escalation with Russia.

.. The fact that Trump chose the least aggressive option available suggests that the principal audience for the strikes was not in Damascus or Moscow, but in the United States.

.. So was the strike political kabuki

.. Sean Spicer suggested in a news briefing Monday that there was now open-ended U.S. commitment to intervene to stop the killing of civilians.

.. Rex Tillerson added to the confusion by issuing his own series of conflicting signals.

.. the era of Assad family rule was coming to an end—an assessment at odds with most military analysts’ views

.. H.R. McMaster .. suggested that the administration had embraced the goal of regime change in Syria

.. Nikki Haley won the sweepstakes by enunciating war aims more far-reaching than McMaster’s: It is a U.S. priority, she said, “to get the Iranian influence out” of Syria

.. historic conduit to the Shiite community in Lebanon.

.. Trump’s own rhetoric has both echoed and contradicted Haley, as he said on April 11 that “we’re not going into Syria” after asserting just days before that “we have a vital strategic interest in Syria.”

.. boasts of his unpredictability while showing no ability to think one step ahead.