What Will the Chinese Make of Trump Bombing Syria Over Dinner With Xi?
They won't be impressed, not with Trump anyways
Apparently Trump ordered the Syria strike just as he was heading to meet with the Chinese leader Xi in Florida.
Then just as the two were sitting down for dinner US missiles were raining down on a Syrian military base.
What will the Chinese take home from this?
Let's consider a few factors.
Bejing has enormous distaste for the Syrian Islamist rising. Particularly since it involves thousands of Chinese citizens, ethnic Uyghurs who were brought to Syria by the Turkish military intelligence. Islamist Uyghur separatism is a threat that China is hyper-sensitve about.
In a similar bombing campaign in 1999 against Yugoslavia the US ended up bombing China's embassy -- supposedly a mistake caused by poor maps. Americans have long forgotten about this but the Chinese remember very well.
I am not so sure.
If they are going to be impressed it is going to be, I think, with the power of the Washington establishment to bend presidents to its will. Here is a president who late as the October debates was willing to take flak he could have easily avoided to dismiss the hawkish Syria stance of his own running mate who is now indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton or John McCain.
But any new awe for the deep state has to come at the expense of awe for Trump.
Two weeks ago Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to China speaking of cooperation and friendship, and invoking the need for win-win solutions. It was language Obama's 'Pivot to Asia' administration had balked from.
If the Chinese thought that may mean Trump could offer something new that is all over now. Trump's strike was an abject lesson in how, in Washington, the establishment reigns supreme, nothing ever changes and no lasting breakthroughs are possible.
Click here for our commenting guidelines