Washington, DC. In the history of the United States there have been presidents elected who had a change of mind on an issue. But in the case of Donald Trump, virtually everything he promised in election 2016 has been delivered, only the complete polar opposite of what he originally promised.
“I don’t want to be the president of the world,” Donald Trump declared in Washington on 4 April. “I’m the president of the United States. And from now on, it’s going to be America first.” Which left his conservative American critics wondering just who in the hell they had put behind the nuclear button in the last US presidential election.
A week later Trump stood alongside the secretary general of NATO and told reporters at the White House: “Right now, the world is a mess. But I think by the time we finish, I think it’s going to be a lot better place to live … because right now it’s nasty.” This is coming from the man who threatened to pull the US out of NATO as “no longer relevant and a waste of taxpayer money,” at least according to the Donald Trump of pre November the 8th of 2016.
It has been a brazen reversal in both word and deed. In the past 10 days, Trump has launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airbase, dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat on eastern Afghanistan and deployed a naval strike group to waters near North Korea to play chicken with a psychotic sociopath in posesion of nuclear weapons, who has his enemies put to death with anti-aircraft cannons for laughs.
For good measure, having lambasted China and lauded Russia during the election campaign, Trump now lauds China and lambasts Russia while saying of Nato: “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.” Leading his supporters to wonder aloud if Trump was not some sort of Neocon Manchurian Candidate, or a man who has gone quite completely insane, since being elected President of the United States.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a notorious neocon himself, tweeted: “I hope America’s adversaries are watching & now understand there’s a new sheriff in town.” Charles Krauthammer, a conservative columnist known to be on Trump’s radar, wrote in the Washington Post: “The traditionalists are in the saddle. US policy has been normalised. The world is on notice: eight years of sleepwalking is over. America is back.”
Trump’s shifts of the past two weeks have multiple causes. A president long addicted to cable news has said several times how he was moved by the primetime images of poisoned children and “beautiful babies” in Syria. His daughter Ivanka, herself a mother, was among those who weighed in on the horror of what Assad had done.
The shifting fortunes in the West Wing are a factor too. Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are said to be increasingly influential on Trump as they worry about his negative headlines. His national security adviser, HR McMaster, is also exerting his authority, removing chief strategist Steve Bannon from the national security council.
In the wake of Trump’s election victory, Obama told reporters: “Regardless of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, this office has a way of waking you up. And those aspects of his positions or predispositions that don’t match up with reality he will find shaken up pretty quick, because reality has a way of asserting itself.” Unfortunately for those who voted for Trump based upon his campaign promises, the coffee they are waking up to, is not the one the thought they were buying in election 2016.