- Reuters/Carlos Barria (Trump), Larry Downing (Obama)
- Donald Trump telegraphed military plans Wednesday morning, telling Russia to “get ready” for US airstrikes on Syria.
- This strategy was exactly what he criticised Barack Obama for doing in 2013.
- At the time Trump said: “Why can’t we just be quiet and, if we attack at all, catch them by surprise?” This isn’t what he’s doing any more.
Donald Trump is pursuing the exact same playbook in Syria he castigated his predecessor Barack Obama for.
In an early Wednesday morning tweet, Trump told Russia to “get ready” for US missile strikes in Syria in retaliation over report chemical attacks on civilians last week.
The tweet is the most obvious possible early warning to Russia and Syria of US military action, guaranteeing that they are as prepared as possible.
However, back in 2013 when Trump was giving Obama unsolicited Twitter advice on handling Syria, he specifically criticised Obama for telegraphing his plans and squandering the “element of surprise.”
Around the same time Obama announced his intention to strike Syria in August 2013, saying: “after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets.”
Trump posted these tweets:
Why do we keep broadcasting when we are going to attack Syria. Why can't we just be quiet and, if we attack at all, catch them by surprise?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013
In war, the elememt of surprise is sooooo important.What the hell is Obama doing.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2013
In the end, Obama didn’t take military action against Syria.
Trump also knocked Obama for drawing a “red line” with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his use of chemical weapons.
In a now-infamous news conference in 2012, Obama said that if Assad was found using or moving chemical weapons, “that would change my calculus” over whether to strike Syria.
Trump at the time slammed Obama as “a disaster” and “very dumb,” and warned: “Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A.” Now that he’s president, Trump appears not to think focussing solely on domestic matters is the correct course.
Trump has spoken out against telegraphing US military plans to enemies in the past.
In April 2017, he told “Fox & Friends” that he didn’t “want to telegraph what I am doing or what I am thinking,” and lambasted Obama and Hillary Clinton for “recklessly [announcing] their every move before it happens – like they did in Iraq – so that the enemy can prepare and adapt.”
The Pentagon said on Wednesday that it “does not comment on potential future military action.” However, the White House said last year that Trump’s tweets should be “considered official statements by the President of the United States.”