- The Washington Times
Sunday, April 9, 2017

One president now gets to pick up after another’s mess. President Trump’s surgically accurate bombing in Syria has brought him accolades from around the globe, and from unexpected sources on both sides of the aisle. Even a few journalists stepped up to approve.

And no wonder. Mr. Trump has set both a practical and moral tone for the nation’s defensive posture — an important step in his bid to make America great again, keep campaign promises and bolster morale. But follow-up tasks and maintenance work on the faded “red lines” of the previous administration are now in order. This portends to be a long march.


“There’s a new administration in charge of our national security policy. I applaud the president for doing what he did to enforce that red line that President Obama drew three years ago, but did nothing to enforce,” Sen. John Cornyn told “Fox News Sunday.” The Texas Republican vows to work with fellow lawmakers and the White House on long-term strategy with bipartisan support.

Can Trump clean up Obama’s mess in Syria?” asks a new Investors Business Daily editorial. “President Trump, his hands full in his first 100 days, now must figure out what to do about the Mideast mess that President Obama and his two secretaries of state left — a result of one of the most inept foreign-policy maneuvers in modern history.”

The op-ed cited both former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. And not in a happy way.

“Obama’s strategy is a shambles,” the news organization notes. “The result is chaos and violence across the Mideast, and millions of displaced people and refugees overwhelming Lebanon, Jordan and other Mideastern countries, along with Europe. It is one of the most destabilizing policy moves by a president ever, rivaling even LBJ’s Vietnam buildup in the damage it’s done. When President Obama peremptorily departed a then-mostly-stable Iraq in 2011, he left a power vacuum across a wide swath of Iraq and into northern Syria. Politics abhors a vacuum, and it was filled by ISIS, Russia and Turkey. We’re paying for Obama’s failures today.”

AND THE REALITY CHECK

The aforementioned attack on Syria may persuade President Bashar al-Assad to be more cautious, but will not deter him and his allies from pressing “a full-throttle military campaign” to counter the rebels, write Tom Perry and Laila Bassam, both Reuters correspondents in the Middle East.

“Assad now knows there is a red line with regard to the use of chemical weapons. But I think he also probably just sees it as a slap on the wrist,” David Lesch, professor of Middle East history at Trinity University, told the news service. “Assad has to recalibrate but not fundamentally change his military approach that they’ve been engaging in since the Russian intervention. I really believe they are not feeling too bad today, if this is the extent of what the U.S. is going to do.”

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

NBC has “For God and Country.” The CW has “Valor.” They are among the major networks which are suddenly developing military-themed TV shows — so much so that the Hollywood Reporter has already deemed it a “hot TV trend.” It’s amazing that nobody has retooled the “Combat,” a prime time drama, which had considerable appeal during the 1960s.

Timing appears to be everything.

“All five broadcast networks are piloting military-themed shows this season. Coincidence? Or is it a targeted attempt to reach Trump voters?” asks Sarah Stites, a Media Research Center Culture analyst who reports on entertainment and religion for the conservative watchdog.

“It took a devastating electoral upset, but the networks have started to learn some lessons. Shows with affluent protagonists, set in big cities and reflecting liberal ideologies were actually alienating a subset of the American populace,” says Ms. Stites, who wonders if the big networks are now trying to appeal to a broader audience with “traditional, patriotic values.”

GUARDED ADMIRATION: ALASKA AND CHINA

Chinese President Xi Jinping stopped off in Alaska on his way home, tooling down the Anchorage streets in an entourage that included 24 cars. There’s some history here. Last year alone, Alaska exported $1.2 billion worth of seafood, minerals and other products to China.

And these days, Mr. Xi appears interested in sending his nation’s athletes to train in downhill skiing in Alaska for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be in Beijing. Gov. Bill Walker also hosted his guests at dinner in the Crow’s Nest, a world-class restaurant atop the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage where there is king crab, Alaskan-style bouillabaisse and king salmon to be had.

“Admiring the view of the Chugach Mountains, Xi asked Walker whether the restaurant, at the top of the hotel, was of the revolving variety. It’s not,” the Alaska Dispatch News said, noting that governor and president went over the finer points of fisheries, air cargo, oil and gas. Mr. Xi appeared upbeat.

“He felt that as a result of his coming to Alaska we will see an uptick of tourism from China — and I think he’s correct about that,” Mr. Walker told a press gaggle in the aftermath.

ONE FOR THE PUPS

A forthcoming book of note: “K-9 Korea: The Untold Story of America’s War Dogs,” which offers the details of the 8125th Sentry Dog Detachment — brave soldiers and hero dogs who relied on one another through the worst of the worst.

The author is Rachel Reed; the book is due out April 17 from Regnery History.

POLL DU JOUR

• 76 percent of Americans would not be willing to give up the privacy of their email if it would “help the U.S. government foil domestic terrorist plots.”

• 75 percent would not be willing to give up the privacy of their phone records to help foil the plots.

• 75 percent would not be willing to give up the privacy of their internet activities to help foil the plots.

• 73 percent would not be willing to give up the privacy of their text messages to help foil the plots.

• 37 percent say U.S. intelligence agencies are conducting too much surveillance on U.S. citizens, 32 percent say “as much as necessary,” 7 percent say “not enough.”

Source: A Reuters/Ipsos poll of 3,307 U.S. adults conducted March 11-20 and released April 5.

• Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com


Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.