During his relatively brief time in politics, Donald Trump has viciously attacked respected politicians on both sides of the aisle, beloved public figures, many key U.S. allies, and most of the institutions of our democracy. In that time, Trump has been consistently afraid to say anything even remotely negative about Russian President Vladimir Putin – until now. So why is Trump suddenly ranting on Twitter about Putin right now? There explanation is probably pretty straightforward.
Trump tweeted this about Putin on Saturday: “Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!” It’s a very tame attack on Putin when compared to his usual attacks on other public figures. But he didn’t have much of a choice here, and he knows it.
The last time Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on his own people, the resulting horrific images prompted a public demand for action across the U.S. political spectrum. Even though Bashar is being propped up by Putin, Trump had to attack Bashar – or at least create the appearance of it. So Trump lobbed a few missiles at the outer edges of a Syrian air base that had conveniently already been evacuated, doing minimal damage, and the air base was back up and running just days later. It was Trump’s way of giving in to the American public’s demand for action, without doing any actual damage to Putin’s Syrian puppet.
Now that Assad is once again gassing his own people, Donald Trump knows the American public is going to demand that he take a strong stance against it. So he’s tweeting something mean about Vladimir Putin, which most of the mainstream media will decide is “action” against Syria, even though it isn’t. Some have asked if perhaps Trump’s staff wrote his anti-Russia tweet for him. We think it’s more likely that Vladimir Putin told him to write it. After all, it just might allow Trump to get away with not even having to fire any missiles this time.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report