Trump’s “Big League” Win in Syria

In yesterday’s post I concluded with:

“…I believe two things are likely: 1) Trump’s approval ratings bottomed due to the Bannon-centric West Wing restructuring, and 2) the decisive action taken in Syria will “launch” his approval ratings back up to YTD highs.”

After perusing the NYT’s in-depth behind the scenes coverage of the Syrian strike this morning, I am increasingly confident in point #2. In addition to the two reasons outlined in yesterday’s post – decisive military action that stands in stark contrast to the former administration + the obliteration of the absurd notion that Trump is going to cozy up to Putin in a manner that is detrimental to US interests – I believe the Syrian strike will prove to be a “big league” win for President Trump for three reasons:

  1. Full display of Trump’s high-powered National Security apparatus
  2. Highly positive real-time demonstration of President Trump’s decision making process
  3. Bipartisan approval from Trump skeptics/opposition

As noted in yesterday’s post, heretofore the Trump/Bannon team operated within a “chaos at the top, substance below the surface” framework. To friends and family that could not, or refused to, look beneath the chaotic surface, I implored them to look at the quality of Trump’s team as proof there is not only substance present…but that the substance is some of the highest quality in modern American history. Had Trump assembled a team entirely comprised of Bannon-like bomb throwers, that would have been objectively indefensible.

With almost daily reports of extreme dysfunction within the Trump White House, the high-powered nature of the Mattis/McMaster/Tillerson team was easily lost on a public obsessed with bright shiny objects. And this effect has been exacerbated by the Trump-led secretive nature of the apparatus, as demonstrated by Tillerson’s seemingly “out of touch and sidelined” behavior. But in the wake of the Syrian strike, this morning’s NYT account of the 63 hours from chemical attack to Trump strike and the “coming out” of two advisers puts the high-powered nature of President Trump’s National Security apparatus on full display. Whether a public obsessed with Trump bashing pays attention is a different story; but for political centrists on the fence about the Trump Administration, the Syrian strike is a big, big win for Trump’s credibility, in my opinion.

Heretofore the common refrain regarding Trump’s decision making process was: He values television-sourced information more highly than raw national intelligence data; because he does not like to read he prefers picture-heavy one-page briefings to the “thick” policy briefs consumed by Obama; he has in-sourced the bulk of foreign policy decisions to West Wing loyalists, in effect sidelining Tillerson, McMaster and Mattis; and lastly, he relies nearly 100% on his gut.

The NYT’s “63 hours” account puts nearly all of this to rest by acting as a real-time, detailed demonstration of Trump’s decision making process. I am biased because I have been “bullish” on Trump’s decision making framework since late 2015; but for those who treated Trump as a “show-me” story, the Syrian strike demonstrated the following decision making framework: Let experts be experts + methodically gather all relevant information from said experts + pivot if and when necessary + act decisively.

The US economy is global in nature, if not solely for the fact that we are the world’s “reserve currency”. The flow of American goods and capital touches the vast majority of countries and waterways – thus the US military must be viewed within this context, and not solely from the standpoint of “fighting bad guys”. One could argue that there is no greater responsibility to the health of the US economy possessed by the POTUS than ensuring US military might is consistently, methodically and decisively imposed around the globe. Should the US engage in the absurd act of “nation building”? Of course not. But when we have two key adversaries – Iran and Russia – intimately engaged in the Syrian conflict, one better believe that it is in the Nation’s best economic interests to get involved.

Lastly, the Syrian strike served to regain/shore up bipartisan trust in the Trump Administration, as outlined in this morning’s NYT. Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Marco Rubio – all Trump skeptics/opposition – praised the POTUS’s decisive military action.

Now of course, President Trump must use this highly positive turn of events to continue to build and reinforce all of the above. I would make a simple suggestion: STOP TWEETING NONSENSE.

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