Anne Applebaum writes: I’m not sure if neophilia is a real disease or a literary invention, but having a love for novelty certainly describes a large part of the American and indeed the international press corps. My neophiliac colleagues and I love news, particularly news that changes the paradigm, news that lets you describe the world in a different way, news that means you can abandon the previous, stale conversation and turn with relief to something fresh.
President Trump’s decision to bomb an air base in Syria seems like exactly that kind of news. It changes the paradigm because it apparently contradicts everything Trump has ever said about Syria, either as president, as a candidate or even before that. For as long as he has been in public life, Trump has opposed humanitarian military intervention, which he has always interpreted in the most cynical fashion possible. On Oct. 9, 2012, he tweeted, for example:
Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2012
On Aug. 29, 2013, he tweeted again:
What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013
And Sept. 5, 2013, he tweeted — in all caps:
AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2013
Now it seems that Trump has had an abrupt change of heart, thanks, he says, to the (truly horrific) photographs of children dying of chemical poisoning in Idlib province. Relieved to see this American use of military power, pundits and journalists have filled the airwaves with a thousand different speculations. A BBC producer called me to ask whether I thought that this means “a new departure.” A CNN pundit and Post columnist declared that Trump, with this bombing raid, “became president of the United States.”
Really? Look again at what just happened: A president who has told us he believes military intervention happens when “poll numbers are in tailspin” has just intervened while his poll numbers are in a tailspin. [Continue reading…]