Two days before, the Syrian regime killed at least 80 of its own citizens with a poison gas attack. On television, Trump saw video clips of people suffering and dying. Some were children.
This viewing apparently caused the president to abruptly change American policy from one of hands-off the Syrian civil war to deliberate intervention against President Bashar al-Assad.
Indeed, Trump binge-watches cable news channels and reacts impulsively and viscerally to how the pictures and the words make him feel. When he applies this method to foreign policy, it worries even the intellectual commentators on his sanctuary network, Fox News Channel.
One of them, Charles Krauthammer, spoke with trepidation about this a couple hours before the attack began when it was clear what was to come.
“The whipsaw here is quite remarkable,” Krauthammer said on Special Report. “Now, we have an emotional response.”
At that point, anchor Bret Baier interrupted to say Trump changed only after the hideous attack.
“I understand,” Krauthammer replied, with admirable restraint. “But if you’re going to announce a policy and then you revoke it three days later because of the President’s emotional reaction to pictures—remember, Assad has been at this for seven years.”
If this atrocity is a reason to go to war now, Krauthammer asked, why not years ago when President Barack Obama was in power and people like Trump warned him not to fight in Syria, despite previous chemical attacks?
“When a superpower changes its policy radically because the President is moved by pictures,” Krauthammer said, “you’ve got to wonder about the stability of the foreign policy.”