Tag Archives: Syria

Setting the record straight on Trump critiques

I feel the need to mount a brief self-defense.

Some folks on my social media network have accused me of being perpetually negative toward Donald J. Trump. That is not true.

I pledged when Trump became president of the United States that I would praise him when he did something praiseworthy. Yes, those events have been limited, but I believe I have been faithful to my pledge. For instance:

* I praised Trump’s signing of a bill that made it easer for whistleblowers to rat out wrongdoing within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

* Trump drew praise from yours truly for launching the missile strikes against Syria after the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its citizens, killing many civilians.

* The president and the first lady earned kudos from me when they went to Houston after Hurricane Harvey savaged the Texas coast.

* I offered a follow-up comment on the president taking selfies with victims of Harvey’s wrath, showing a glint of humanity.

* I offered a good word for Trump when he went to Las Vegas recently to lend aid and comfort to the victims of that horrific massacre while offering words of support to the first responders who acted so heroically.

One critic of this blog calls me “bitter” over Hillary’s loss to Trump; another critic thinks all “liberals” look for reasons to speak ill of the president, and he thinks I’m one of ’em.

I’m not bitter. Disappointed, yes. As for looking for reasons to criticize Donald Trump, I never have to hunt for them. They do seem to present themselves with stunning regularity.

So … there you have it. The president has earned praise from yours truly. I want to offer more. First, though, he’s got to earn it.

Mitt was ahead of his time

It’s time for a serious mea culpa.

Mitt Romney once declared during the 2012 presidential campaign that Russia presented the “greatest geopolitical threat” to the United States of America.

I was one of millions of Americans who laughed at the Republican presidential nominee.

Five years later, I regret laughing. I regret dismissing Mitt’s assessment. I regret writing some negative blog posts about what the nominee said.

We are learning today — and in the course of the Donald J. Trump campaign and his presidential administration — that the previous GOP nominee was ahead of his time.

It can be argued, I suppose, that international terrorists presented a greater geopolitical threat than Russia in 2012. Our special forces had just killed Osama bin Laden, but al-Qaeda was still going strong. The Islamic State had emerged as a monstrous threat as well.

The Russians, to my mind, seemed at the time to have been relegated to a back bench.

Silly me. Mitt Romney seems to have been spot on.

The Russians are undermining NATO; they invaded Ukraine; they are propping up a murderous regime in Syria. They also sought to affect the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The startling revelation today from Donald J. Trump Jr. that he accepted a meeting invitation anticipating dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton from the Russian government suggests an existential threat to this nation’s sovereignty.

There’s still a lot of ground to cover before we determine any criminality on the part of the Trump presidential campaign. However, I do believe it is becoming quite clear that the Russians remain a force with which we must reckon.

Gov. Romney, I hereby apologize for doubting you.

Trump’s big mouth threatens to swallow him

That dreaded 100-day “deadline” looms for Donald John Trump. We’re about one week away from it.

Will it produce a winning report card for the president? Will those of us in the peanut gallery be able to call the new president’s start a rousing success, which Trump himself has done already?

I do not believe so.

Does the 100-day mark matter? Perhaps it shouldn’t count as much as it does. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set up this artificial barrier when he took office in 1933 and it’s been held as sort of the benchmark for early presidential success ever since.

But it’s early in any new president’s term. Donald Trump is no different.

Except for one little thing.

All along the way en route to his winning the election, the Republican candidate for president kept telling us about all the things he would accomplish in those first 100 days.

* Affordable Care Act? Repealed and replaced.

* Tax reform? Enacted.

* Draining the swamp of corruption? He’d institute a new government ethic.

What’s happened? The ACA remains. Tax reform hasn’t even been introduced. The swamp is still full.

The president can count precious few legislative triumphs. In fact, I can’t think of any. Can you? He’s signed a lot of executive orders. I particularly like the one that banned government officials from¬†becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving public service.

Sure, he launched that missile strike against Syria after that horrendous chemical weapons attack. I give the president kudos for that action. But he’s got North Korea sounding more threatening than ever; Trump said he dispatched the “great armada” led by the USS Carl Vinson, but the carrier-led strike group to date is nowhere near the Korean Peninsula.

Donald Trump’s very own big mouth has victimized him.

Just maybe once the president gets past this 100-day hurdle,¬†he will decide to tone down his constant boastfulness and learn finally — finally! — that governance requires much more than shooting off one’s big mouth.

Mr. President, we already are in Syria

Donald J. Trump said the other day that the missile strike on a Syrian air force airfield doesn’t mean we are “going into Syria.”

Hold on, Mr. President!

We already are in Syria, sir. President Barack Obama ordered several hundred special forces troops onto that battlefield to assist and train and coordinate attacks launched by “free Syrian” rebels fighting the Russian-backed government of dictator Bashar al Assad.

I also would add that the missiles launched from ships off the Syrian coast suggest that a more serious involvement by the United States in that conflict.

Times and circumstances do change, Mr. President, as you now are learning. Someone will need to remind the president that he used to believe that we should leave the fighting to the rebels. He also used to suggest that Assad’s forces — along with the Russians — could be capable of taking out the Islamic State terrorists.

Let the Russians deal with ISIS, he said. Sure thing, Mr. President. That will work out just fine.

My point, though, is that we already are engaged in Syria. Our special forces put their lives on the line every moment of every day they are deployed there.

The bigger, more important, question is whether we’re going to commit thousands of troops to fight ISIS head to head.

I’m now concerned that the president hasn’t given that option the careful, thoughtful and prayerful consideration it deserves.

UN envoy says what Trump should say … about Russia

Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad gassed citizens, killing dozens of them.

The president of the United States condemns Assad, as he should do; then he lays the blame for the attack on the inaction of former President Barack Obama.

Then in wades the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, to say what should be said: Russia is complicit in this heinous action and must be punished.

My question: Why, oh why, cannot Donald John Trump muster the guts to speak ill of Russia in this regard?

The president continues to remain mum on Russian misbehavior. He cannot admit in public that the Russians hacked into our election system; he cannot agree that Vladimir Putin is a “killer”; he keeps wishing for a more cooperative relationship with Russia.

But, wait, Mr. President. The Russian are bankrolling Assad’s murderous regime in Syria. They are funding the dictator’s ability to obtain the murderous weapons he uses on his citizens.

Ambassador Haley speaks out

The U.N. Security Council is considering a resolution to condemn the Russians over this attack. Russia is one of the five permanent council members and has the authority to veto any such resolution. Where is the president on this one? Will he condemn the Russians if they veto a resolution that seeks to slap additional sanctions on them?

Ambassador Haley said this, according to The Hill: “Russia has shielded Assad from U.N. sanctions. If Russia has the influence in Syria that it claims it has, we need to see them use it,” Haley said at an emergency meeting of the council. “We need to see them put an end to these horrific acts. How many more children have to die before Russia cares.”

Mr. President, it’s your turn now. It’s time for you to “tell it like it is” concerning Russia.

Stop the blame game, Mr. POTUS

Leadership doesn’t involve blaming someone else for problems one inherits.

So, what does Donald John Trump do? He lays the blame for the Syrian gas attack on civilians on the inaction of his predecessor, Barack Obama. The president calls Obama’s “weakness” in dealing with Syria for the heinous act that occurred at the hand of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.

What about the here and now?

The president rightly calls the action reprehensible. But what is the current occupant of the White House going to do about it?

I must stipulate that I am acutely aware of the many times President Obama laid blame on his predecessor for the financial collapse he inherited when he took office in January 2009. The new president, though, then got to work and sought to stimulate the economy to prevent a total collapse of its underpinnings.

I am waiting for the current president to assert his own world view¬† and to deal forthrightly with the Middle East crises that he inherited from Obama — and the many men who preceded both of them as president.

Trump’s assigning of blame dates back to President Obama’s failure to act on Syria’s crossing the “red line” when it used chemical weapons in a previous action. OK, I get that.

The here and now, though, requires leadership that looks forward and ceases blaming others.

Listen to this guy, Mr. President-elect


One might not expect Donald J. Trump to take much of what Sen. John McCain has to say all that seriously … even about things with¬†which he is intimately familiar.

After all, Trump said McCain wasn’t “really a war hero” during the Vietnam War, adding that “I like¬†people who weren’t captured, OK?”

McCain, though, offers a serious word of advice to the president-elect: Do not make nice with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


According to Politico: ‚ÄúVladimir Putin has rejoined Bashar Assad in his barbaric war against the Syrian people with the resumption of large-scale Russian air and missile strikes in Idlib and Homs,” the Arizona senator who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said in a statement. “Another brutal assault on the city of Aleppo could soon follow.”

‚ÄúWith the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States,” McCain added. “We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America‚Äôs allies and attempted to undermine America‚Äôs elections.”

And Trump wants to try to get Putin on our side? He wants to link arms with the Russians in a fight to the death against the Islamic State?

McCain is correct to underscore Putin’s one-time role as the head of the Soviet spy agency, the KGB.

I’m no fan of McCain, although I certainly honor his service during the Vietnam War. He’s a war hero, no matter what Trump has said about him. McCain also understands the world stage in a way that Trump hasn’t even begun to grasp.

I almost can hear Trump now: “Who is this guy McCain telling me how to conduct foreign policy. I mean, I won a presidential election. He’s a loser.”

Sure, McCain lost the 2008 election. He knows his way around the world stage. The new president would do well to heed this man’s advice.

War gets a new face

This little boy is likely to become the new face of humankind’s ability to inflict inhumane pain and suffering.

He is a 5-year-old Syrian boy whose home was bombed in an air strike in the city of Aleppo, where the youngster lives with his parents.

A CNN anchor broke down and cried today when she reported on the youngster’s wounds and on the carnage that’s occurring within his country.

The boy’s name is Omran Daqneesh.

I don’t know at this moment whether he is alive. Nor do I know the fate of his parents.

The Syrian civil war has killed at least a quarter-million people. The Islamic State is seeking to toss out the government of Bashar al Assad. The Russian air force is supporting Assad. The United States opposes Assad’s government and is working to destroy ISIS.

Who dropped the bomb that obliterated Omran’s house? We don’t know. It appears to have been a Russian air strike.

Will the image on the video attached to this post do anything to end the violence? Probably not.

It’s worth looking at this video, time and again, just to understand the hideousness of war and the irreparable damage it inflicts on the world’s most defenseless victims.

Muslims are killing Muslims in Middle East


The U.S. presidential campaigners keep bringing up the threat that Islamic terrorists pose to Americans, mainly Christians and Jews.

What none of them seems able or willing to acknowledge publicly — very much —¬†is what those terrorists are doing to fellow Muslims.

Did you see the story the other day about the mosque in Damascus, Syria, that was attacked by Islamic State ghouls? Dozens of Muslims, mainly Shiites, were killed in the attack.

It was only the latest in a long and miserable string of such attacks that have been occurring throughout the Middle East — and in other primarily Muslim countries — since, oh, forever.

The Islamic State’s campaign against anyone who disagrees with their perverted philosophy has been aimed primarily against those within the Islamic faith. How many Muslims do you suppose have died at the hands of the ISIL monsters? Thousands? Tens of thousands?

And that brings me to my point.

The world war against ISIL must include a broad range of military action launched and coordinated by the people who (a) face the most direct threat from these terrorists and (b) have been the terrorists’ most frequent victims.

I saw the other day that Saudi Arabia is inching toward committing ground troops to the fight against ISIL in Syria. Do you know what’s so fascinating about that development, were it to come to fruition?

Saudi Arabia is a mainly Sunni Muslim nation, made up of people ISIL claims to represent.

I do not have the answer for how any world leader — whether it’s the president of the United States, the head of the European Union or a potentate in some tiny sheikdom — can muster the forces needed to fight these hideous religious perverts.

The Damascus mosque attack, though, does drive home the point that some U.S. politicians have recognized already.

It is that this country has shed enough blood already. Yes, we should continue our air campaign along with our allies who’ve also been wounded by terrorist attacks — and we should prosecute that campaign with all the vigor possible. The real fight on the ground must include those who are closest to the enemy and who stand most directly¬†in harm’s way.

There can be no doubt ISIL has designs on spreading its terror far beyond the Middle East. That is why the countries in the region need to step up even more aggressively to take on the terrorists.

It is their fight to win.


Russia showing it might want Assad out, too


Cracks may be appearing in the once-ironclad alliance between Russia and Syria.

The Russians are now indicating that they’d accept a world without Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad if the warring factions ever can find a way to stop the shooting, bombing and plundering of that ancient land.

It’s not the same as an outright ouster, which the United States and many other western allies would prefer. But the language from diplomats close to the Russians seems to indicate that Assad’s support in Moscow might be fraying around the edges.

Western powers should welcome this bit of news.

The Russians have been bombing anti-Assad forces. They also have joined the fight against the Islamic State, flying combat sorties against ISIS targets. The Russians, of course, have reason for their outrage,¬† given ISIS’s taking of responsibility for the downing of the Russian passenger jet that was flying out of Egypt.

Assad’s departure, of course, cannot occur until there’s a peace agreement that ends the horrific violence in Syria.

Is there reason to mistrust the Russians on this? Well, yes. Russian President/strongman Vladmir Putin, one must remember, once was a KGB spy who got paid to lie. So, he’s not the most trustworthy head of government in the world.

However, if there’s diplomatic pressure to be applied to Putin, now is the time to start ratcheting it up.