Across 25 years and five administrations, we have kicked the North Korean can down the road. We are now out of road.
For every moment of triumph, there is an unequal and opposite feeling of despair.
The Iranian-Russian strategy is a nightmare for the entire Sunni Middle East. And for us too. The Pentagon seems bent on preventing it. Hence the Tomahawk attack for crossing the chemical red line. Hence the recent fighter-bomber shoot-down.
Trump was elected to do politically incorrect — and needed — things such as withdrawing from Paris. He was not elected to do crazy things, starting with his tweets. If he cannot distinguish between the two, Trump Derangement Syndrome will only become epidemic.
But Trump’s refusal to utter those words does lower whatever probability Vladimir Putin might attach to America responding with any seriousness to Russian aggression against a NATO ally.
The reversal has now begun. The first act was Trump’s Riyadh address to about 50 Muslim states (the overwhelming majority of them Sunni) signaling a wide Islamic alliance committed to resisting Iran and willing to cast its lot with the American side.
Trump’s behavior is deeply disturbing but hardly surprising. His mercurial nature is not the product of a post-inaugural adder sting atMar-a-Lago. It’s been there all along. And the American electorate chose him nonetheless.
If Trump thought this would kill the inquiry and the story, or perhaps even just derail it somewhat, he’s made the blunder of the decade.
The anti-establishment sentiment that gave us Brexit, then Donald Trump, then seemed poised to give us Marine Le Pen, has indeed plateaued. But although she will likely be defeated in the second round, victory by the leading centrist, Emmanuel Macron, would hardly constitute an establishment triumph.
There are deals to be made. They may have to be underpinned by demonstrations of American resolve.