Trump Fires Back at Merkel, Says Germany is ‘Very Bad’ For The US

President Donald Trump has criticized Germany once again for its large trade surplus with the U.S. and its low contributions to NATO, saying this attitude is “very bad” for the United States.

The comments made on Twitter take current tensions in U.S.-German relations a notch higher.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said at an election rally on Sunday that Germany and the European Union can no longer rely on the United States.

“The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over,” she told the rally in Munich.

“I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she said. Her comments came as she steps up her campaign in the September federal election.

The image of friendly relations between Germany and the U.S. seems distant since Trump took office. His administration has previously said that Germany’s trade surplus is a result of the country’s manipulation of the euro.

Germany fought back arguing that it doesn’t have powers to manipulate the euro and the only reason consumers opt for its products is because they are more competitive.

Data released last February by the German Federal Statistics Office showed that Germany’s trade surplus rose to 252.9 billion euros ($270.05 billion) in 2016, surpassing the previous high of 244.3 billion euros in 2015. If it were a single trade partner, Germany would be the fifth largest in total trade flows with the U.S. But it runs the third largest trade surplus, after China and Japan.

Meanwhile, contributions to the defense alliance NATO has emerged as another problem between Berlin and Washington. Trump has repeatedly asked NATO allies to step up their contributions. At the moment, only 5 of the 28 members fulfill the target of paying at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

According to NATO data, Germany is currently spending 1.2 percent of its GDP on NATO. The U.S. spends 3.6 percent.

At a summit last week, Germany, like other NATO members, vowed to present an action plan on how it will increase defense spending. At the time, Trump told his allies they were being unfair toward U.S. taxpayers.

[CNBC]

Allies Distance Themselves From U.S. After Trump’s First Foreign Trip

President Trump received a largely cordial welcome on the first overseas trip of his presidency. But now that he’s returned to Washington, the foreign leaders he met with are increasingly blunt in their reviews of the American president.

In separate remarks intended mostly for domestic consumption, leaders of Germany, France and Israel all sought to distance themselves from Trump, just days after meeting with the president during his nine-day foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, Brussels and Italy.

Among the sources of friction: Trump’s reluctance to unreservedly commit to the North Atlantic alliance, his skepticism of a climate change accord signed on to by his predecessor, President Obama, and outreach to Palestinians in pursuit of a Middle East peace agreement.

“It’s clear that in Europe at least, that anti-Trump position plays well domestically,” said Ivo Daalder, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO in the Obama administration. “But the larger issue is that the trip didn’t go well in Europe.”

The dynamic is partly one of Trump’s brash style. “I think what grates on European leaders is the sense that he does not treat them as equals, let alone as allies,” Daalder said. “He approaches them in this confrontational way, in an attempt to constantly get a better deal out of them.”

Trump hasn’t spoken about the trip publicly, avoiding press conferences for the entire journey. But on Twitter, he pronounced the mission a triumph. “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.

The reaction abroad was more cautious:

France: New French President Emmanuel Macron said his now-famous white-knuckled handshake with Trump was a deliberate attempt to demonstrate that he wouldn’t be bullied by the American president. “One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either,” he told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche“My handshake with him — it wasn’t innocent.”

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday at a Bavarian beer hall that Europe can no longer “fully rely” on its overseas allies. On climate issues, she said, the Group of Seven meeting was “seven against one” — counting the European Union as part of the seven (and the United States as the one). Her chief political rival took umbrage at the way Trump sought to “humiliate” Merkel in Brussels. “I reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the head of our country’s government,” said Martin Schulz, who is challenging Merkel for the chancellorship as an “anti-Trump” candidate. He said Trump was “acting like an autocratic leader.”

United Kingdom: British Prime Minister Theresa May is upset that American intelligence officials leaked information about the Manchester concert bombing to the media. Trump acknowledged that he got an earful from May, tweeting Sunday that she was “very angry” about the leaks. “Gave me full details!”

Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said Israel has “no better friend” than Trump, appeared to hold the president at arm’s length on Monday. Speaking to members of his conservative Likud party, Netanyahu warned that a Trump-brokered peace negotiation with the Palestinians “comes at a price.” And while he welcomed U.S. support for Israel, he emphasized that “there is no such thing as innocent gifts.”

Palestinian Authority: An Israeli television station reported that Trump shouted at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during their meeting in Bethlehem last week yelling, “You tricked me!” and accusing the Palestinian Authority of inciting violence in the West Bank. (The Palestinians denied the report.)

Trump’s trip began in Saudi Arabia with a summit of Muslim Arab leaders — and they’re perhaps the least likely to grumble. After feeling neglected by Obama, the Saudis welcomed a $110 billion arms package and Trump’s more bellicose rhetoric toward mutual enemies like Iran and the Islamic State.

But in Europe, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy appeared to alienate other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the 68-year-old alliance intended to contain Russia — the country at the center of a growing controversy over ties to Trump aides.

At a ceremony meant to solemnize the collective defense provision of the NATO charter in Brussels, Trump failed to explicitly reassure European allies that the U.S. would come to their aid in the event of an attack. Instead, he renewed his complaints that they were not paying their fair share. (In doing so, he misrepresented the commitment by NATO allies to spend at least 2% of their economies on defense.)

And in Sicily, where leaders of the G-7 economic powers gathered, Trump continued his hard-line stance on climate and trade issues. He reportedly told Merkel that Germany was “bad” or “evil” (depending on the translation) because of its trade imbalance with the United States.

But among Trump supporters, his tough talk to foreign leaders drew raves. Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he “could not be more pleased” with Trump’s international travels.

“The trip was executed to near perfection and it appears the president has made great progress on the broad range of objectives,” he said after speaking with Trump on Sunday.

[USA Today]

Trump Raged at Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas In Bethlehem Meeting: ‘You Lied To Me’

President Trump reportedly lashed out at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in their meeting in the West Bank city of Bethlehem last Tuesday.

“You tricked me in D.C.! You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement [against Israel],” he allegedly said to Abbas, according to Israel’s Channel 2 broadcaster, which cited a U.S. official present at the meeting. It said the Palestinian delegation were shocked by the outburst.

The Israeli government blames the Palestinian leadership and Abbas’s Fatah faction for inciting violence among young Palestinians, who from September 2015 onward launched a series of violent and deadly attacks with knives, guns and vehicles in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Palestinians say it is Israel’s military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank that pushed them to violence. The violence slowed in mid-2016.

At their meeting in Washington on May 3, Trump told Abbas to end incitement and “resolve” a Palestinian policy of paying the families of Palestinians convicted of terror offenses under Israeli law. Abbas said “we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas’s remarks were “not true” as his Palestinian Authority names “schools after mass murders of Israelis.”

Trump is earning a reputation for lecturing world leaders. In February, he reportedly shouted on a call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about a refugee settlement deal reached with his predecessor, Barack Obama.

“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it. Just don’t worry about it. They’re tough,” he said at a prayer breakfast the day after the call. “We’re taken advantage of by every nation in the world virtually. It’s not going to happen any more.”

Trump arrived in Bethlehem on Tuesday for a whistlestop meeting with Abbas with security at its highest level in the West Bank city. He had met with Netanyahu a day earlier. He said that with “ determination, compromise, and the belief that peace is possible,” Israelis and Palestinians could make a deal.

In Bethlehem, shops shuttered and Palestinian security forces lined the main roads as Palestinians held a “Day of Rage” in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, who have since stopped that strike. The pair held a joint press conference at the city’s presidential palace but, despite visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Trump passed on visiting the Church of the Nativity, the alleged birthplace of Jesus.

Publicly, Trump was kinder about his Palestinian counterpart, saying he was a willing peace partner. “I truly believe if Israel and the Palestinians can make peace, it will begin a process for peace in the Middle East,” Trump said during the conference. “Abbas assures me he is ready to work toward that goal in good faith, and Netanyahu has promised the same. I look forward to working with these leaders toward a lasting peace.”

Abbas said the Palestinians would work for peace but their “fundamental problem is with the occupation and settlements and the failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine as we recognize it.” He said their problem was not with “Judaism.”

[Newsweek]

Trump Claims Defense Money is Pouring Into NATO After Speech

President Trump on Saturday claimed that money was “beginning to pour in” to NATO, just two days after he gave a speech scolding allies for not paying their fair share at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

“Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger,” Trump tweeted Saturday.

Trump’s wording misrepresents how NATO is organized by suggesting that nations pay the alliance; each nation funds its own defense spending under the NATO umbrella. There is not a specific fund money would be pouring into.

Trump has frequently assailed the treaty organization as “unfair” to the U.S., arguing that other member states have long failed to uphold their defense spending commitments. Only five NATO countries — the U.S., Greece, Estonia, the U.K. and Poland — have met the treaty’s agreement that countries spend at least 2 percent of their annual GDP on defense by 2024.

Trump reiterated that sentiment while speaking to NATO allies this week, saying the members “must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations.”

[The Hill]

‘The Germans Are Bad, Very Bad’: Trump Pledges to ‘Stop’ German Car Sales to US

President Donald Trump is ready to fight Germany in an auto battle according to Germany’s Der Spiegel.

Trump got a chilly reception at the NATO summit in Belgium after attacking fellow members. But he was caught pledging a battle with German automakers as part of his anger with “back dues” he feels the country owes to NATO. As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted Thursday, “Trump seems to think it’s like a country club.”

In a discussion about the country’s trade surplus, Trump said. “The Germans are evil, very evil.”

“Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US, and we’ll stop that,” sources told Der Spiegel.

According to the report, EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker took up for Germany explaining that “free trade is good for all.”

According to a report from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” the EU allies were horrified by the willingness of the Americans to view global trade with such a lack of awareness. Trump’s economic consultant Gary Cohn was said to have chided German auto trade during a discussion between the US and Germany and the USA and Belgium. Trump had previously attacked them during another conversation.

“I would say to BMW if they want to build a factory in Mexico and sell cars to the US without a 35 percent tax, they can forget that,” Trump said at the time.

The report revealed that since that comment, there has been “a threat of a criminal tax” in the room.

Trump is bothered by Germany’s trade surplus because many other countries have deficits, particularly the U.S.

[Raw Story]

Trump Blasts NATO Allies for Not Paying Fair Share

Standing before NATO allies in Brussels, President Trump offered a strong rebuke of members who are not meeting defense spending obligations — saying it’s “not fair” to American taxpayers.

“I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations. But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying, and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” said Trump.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years, and not paying in those past years,” said Trump.

[ABC News]

Reality

Donald Trump made the mistake back in July 2016 of his lack of knowledge on NATO, and in his speech in a room full of our NATO allies it was clear he still does not understand how NATO works.

Ivo Daalder, the former U.S. permanent representative on NATO, called out Trump’s misunderstanding in March 2017 in a series of tweets that begin, “Sorry Mr President, that’s not how NATO works.”

“The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending NATO. This is not a financial transaction, where NATO countries pay the US to defend them. Although it’s true that only five of 28 NATO countries spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, many are now increasing their defense budgets. That’s a good thing, but even when they do increase their defense budgets, no funds will be paid to the US, but all funds go into a pool. Europe must spend more on defense, but not as favor (or payment) to the US. But because their security requires it.”

Trump Praised Philippines President Duterte For Drug War That Has Killed 9,000 People

President Donald Trump opened a brief April phone call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte by commending the strongman’s bloody war on drugs, according to a transcript obtained by The Washington Post and the The Intercept.

“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” said Trump. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”

Trump then criticized former President Barack Obama, who had spoken out against Duterte’s violent anti-drug offensive that has killed an estimated 9,000 people, including many small-time users and dealers.

“I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that, but I understand that and we have spoken about this before,” Trump said, according to the transcript.

A senior Trump administration official told the Post the transcript is accurate, but would not speak on the record about a “leaked” document.

The transcript, provided to the outlets by a source in the Philippines and authenticated by Rappler, a Philippines news outlet that partnered with the Intercept, is further confirmation of Trump’s uncharacteristic friendliness toward autocratic world leaders. It also is likely to raise fears that harsh rhetoric from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on what they call the scourge of drug abuse and addiction may give way to more militant action in the future.

In his call with Trump, Duterte similarly called drugs “the scourge of my nation,” according to the transcript.

White House officials initially characterized the April call as “a very friendly conversation,” during which Trump had invited Duterte to visit Washington. That development reportedly surprised White House staffers and drew widespread condemnation from human rights groups, which have accused Duterte of condoning a lawless drug war that has terrorized the nation with a campaign of extrajudicial killings carried out by vigilantes and police officers. Duterte has seemingly embraced this barbaric depiction, comparing himself with Adolf Hitler on a mission to kill millions of drug addicts.

“By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings,” John Sifton, Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, told The New York Times in April. “Although the traits of his personality likely make it impossible, Trump should be ashamed of himself.”

Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit that supports the progressive reform of drug laws, called Trump’s remarks “a new low.”

“It fills me with disgust to see the U.S. president congratulate someone who has overseen the massacre of thousands of his own people in the name of the war on drugs,” Collins said in a statement to HuffPost. “The U.S. government should be urging restraint and respect for human rights; instead Trump gives Duterte’s deadly drug war his seal of approval.”

Trump’s support for Duterte’s tactics also mark a significant departure from the policies of Obama’s administration, which had shown a willingness to confront the Philippines president on the issue of drug enforcement. Ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in September, Obama said he’d bring up the drug war during a planned meeting with Duterte, because he believed in the need to “have due process and to engage in that fight against drugs in a way that’s consistent with basic international norms.”

Duterte responded by calling Obama a Taglog phrase for “son of a bitch,” and the meeting was canceled.

Trump and Duterte, during their call, also discussed escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, and expressed concerns about North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, whom Trump called a “madman with nuclear weapons.” Days later, Trump said he’d be “honored” to meet with the North Korean dictator.

Trump and Duterte agreed that China would play a pivotal role in keeping North Korea in check, and warding off the possibility of military action.

“We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines – the best in the world – we have two nuclear submarines – not that we want to use them at all,” said Trump, according to the transcript. “I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this but he could be crazy so we will see what happens.”

President Trump Held Secret Pay to Play Mar-a-Lago Meeting with Two Colombian Ex-Presidents

President Trump secretly met with two former Colombian presidents critical of an Obama-era peace agreement between their home country’s sitting government and a far-left rebel group, according to a report.

Without listing it in his daily schedule or disclosing it to reporters, Trump met with Alvaro Uribe and Andres Pastrana at his Mar-a-Lago estate last weekend, the Miami Herald first reported on Thursday.

The stealthy meeting was apparently facilitated by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been openly skeptical of the landmark peace agreement between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for brokering the peace deal, which prompted outrage from some Colombians who say the FARC rebels are getting away with murder.

President Obama last year dedicated $450 million in foreign aid to help solidify the peace deal, which effectively ended a bloody 50-year power struggle between the leftist guerilla group and government forces. Obama faced backlash over the move, especially from Republicans.

It’s unclear what was discussed during last week’s Mar-a-Lago meeting, though speculation swirled that it might have been facilitated in an effort to tilt Trump’s opinion in a certain direction ahead of his sit-down with President Santos next month.

Santos is expected to ask Trump to make good on the Obama administration’s $450 million pledge.

The White House initially declined to discuss the matter, setting off a wave of speculation among Colombian media outlets.

A Trump administration spokeswoman eventually confirmed that the meeting occurred, but downplayed its significance, claiming that the two former Colombian heads of state just happened to be at the club at the same time as President Trump.

“There wasn’t anything beyond a quick hello,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the Colombian presidents were in the company of a Mar-a-Lago club member.

But Uribe and Pastrana, who are both staunch opponents of the peace deal with FARC, had a completely different take on the meet.

“Thanks to @POTUS @realDonaldTrump for the cordial and very frank conversation about problems and prospects of Colombia and the region,” Pastrana tweeted in Spanish after the meeting.

Uribe’s former vice president, Francisco Santos, echoed those comments, telling the Herald that the meeting was concise but to the point.

“We’re very worried,” Santos told the newspaper. “You have a perfect storm, and the (Santos) government says everything is going fine and we’re living in peace. And that’s not true.”

Trump’s secret meeting raises a number of questions, including his inclination to meet with people who are either connected to, or willing to themselves pay the $200,000 Mar-a-Lago membership fee.

Colombia’s ambassador to the U.S., Juan Carlos Pinzon, criticized Uribe and Pastrana for going through back channels to discuss sensitive matters with Trump ahead of Santos’ visit.

“We need to address these issues at home,” Pinzon told a Colombian radio station. “We need to wash our dirty laundry at home.”

(h/t New York Daily News)

Reality

President Trump has been in office for 91 days. He has spent 25 of them at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, often mingling with members and guests.

Since the election, the cost of membership has doubled to $200,000.

Mr. Trump often railed against pay-to-play politics on the campaign trail, repeatedly slamming a “broken system.”

Yet the access at Mar-a-Lago is unparalleled. Last weekend, two former presidents of Colombia were guests and quietly met with Mr. Trump.

Former Colombian President Andres Pastrana later tweeted about the meeting, thanking Mr. Trump for “the cordial and very frank conversation about the problems and prospects in Colombia and the region.”

The two men are opponents of current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who has not yet met with Mr. Trump. The encounter was not on Mr. Trump’s public schedule.

Five days later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer seemed surprised to hear about it.

“I’m just saying I’m unaware of the circumstances,” Spicer told reporters.

The White House later said the men “briefly said hello when the president walked past them.”

Club members have posted photos with military officers and even with the president himself.

Trump on North Korea: “After Listening for 10 Minutes, I Realized It’s Not So Easy”

President Donald Trump recounted an absolutely astounding detail about one of his conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping in comments published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday afternoon. Apparently, Trump came into his first meeting with the Chinese leader, in early April, convinced that China could simply eliminate the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program. Xi then patiently explained Chinese-Korean history to Trump — who then promptly changed his mind.

“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” the president told the Journal. “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power [over] North Korea. … But it’s not what you would think.”

Four quick observations about this:

  1. Trump thought China could fix North Korea until the Chinese president politely informed him that North Korea is in fact complicated.
  2. Trump seems to have required the leader of China to explain basic facts to him that he could have Googled, or at least asked one of the many US government North Korea experts about.
  3. Trump came to a profound realization about one of the most dangerous conflicts on earth after a 10-minute conversation.
  4. Trump is getting his information about East Asian affairs from the leader of America’s largest rival in the region.

Around the same time the Journal piece was published, North Korea informed reporters to prepare for a “big and important event.” Initial reports suggest that Pyongyang is planning to test a nuclear device for just the sixth time in the country’s history. There’s no word yet on how the Trump administration plans to respond.

(h/t Vox)

President Trump Blames Obama for Syria Chemical Attack

President Donald Trump said that the attack in Syria on Tuesday “crossed a lot of lines for me,” but he did not specify how he would respond to it.

His comments came during a press conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah II that began with Trump’s condemning the “heinous actions,” which left at least 72 people dead.

Trump was asked if the attack crossed a red line for him, a reference to then-President Barack Obama’s 2012 threat that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be seen as doing so.

“It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal — people were shocked to hear what gas it was — that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines,” he said.

Later, when a reporter noted he seemed reluctant to get involved in the matter, Trump said, “I watched past administrations say we will attack at such and such a day at such and such an hour … I’m not saying I’m doing anything one way or the other.”

He released a statement on Tuesday saying the attack was “a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.”

Today he said, “I think the Obama administration had a responsibility to solve the crisis a long time ago. And when he didn’t cross that line in making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank threat. I think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country.”

Trump added, “I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly.”

He said that he is open to changing his stance on issues and that the attack in Syria was an example of how current events have prompted a shift.

“I like to think of myself as a very flexible person. I don’t have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way,” Trump said. “It’s already happened, that my attitude towards Syria and [President Bashar al-]Assad has changed very much.”

Later in his remarks, Trump praised Jordan‘s efforts in the fight against ISIS.

“The Middle East and the entire world is faced with one of its gravest threats in many, many years. Since the earliest days of the campaign against ISIS, Jordan has been a staunch ally and partner, and we thank you for that,” he said.

“In King Abdullah, America is blessed with a thoughtful and determined partner. He’s a man who has spent years commanding his country’s special forces. He really knows what is being a soldier is — that I can tell you. And he knows how to fight,” Trump said.

(h/t ABC News)

Reality

Trump can try to put the blame solely on former President Barack Obama but things are not as simple as “if you bad then I bomb,” Syria in particular is a very complicated situation.

Obama could have used military force in Syria as promised after Assad crossed the “red line” and used chemical weapons on his own people, sure that’s a position you could hold. But then you’ll need to explain how you would deal with Russia, which has massive investments such as an important naval base in Tartus, and Iran, who Syria is its closest ally, and are both backing Assad.

Keep in mind, at the time the Obama administration was holding negotiations with Iran to dismantle their nuclear program. If there was no nuclear deal with Iran, then they were ready to have a bomb within two or three months and were ready to walk if America used force in Syria as retaliation. So an alternative solution needed to be found.

So what Assad actually did by crossing Obama’s red line in 2013, is created international pressure for Syria to accept a diplomatic solution. (A much preferred foreign policy.) The agreement left Russia in charge of overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and was in charge of ensuring they wouldn’t be used. Russia, as it seems, did not do such a good job.

This would also ignore Trump’s own missteps. Just a few days prior, the Trump administration mentioned their new policy in the Syrian civil war was to lead from behind. Assad, always one to test his boundaries with both ally and enemy, read this signal loud and clear that he was free to act as he wished.

If Trump did not have such a simplistic view of a very complex situation (which is usually the case with him) then perhaps this attack would have never occurred.

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