Donald Trump’s extravagant trip to Saudi Arabia is a desperately-needed distraction from his crisis at home
The events planned for the President’s summits in Riyadh are pretentious and reek of hypocrisy. There’s even one dedicated to Twitter – in a nation that locks up anyone who uses the social media platform to criticise the government
It would be naïve to imagine that the timing of the US attack, the first intentionally made against Syrian government ground forces in six years of war, was not geared to Trump’s Saudi visit. It has the additional great advantage, from the point of view of the White House, of distracting attention from Trump’s disasters in Washington since he sacked James Comey as head of the FBI and saw a Special Counsel appointed to investigate links between his associates and Russia.
A cynical Pentagon saying holds that “defence policy ends at the water’s edge” or, in other words, military decisions are determine by US domestic politics and not developments abroad. Trump is aware that the only time he received plaudits from the US media and his establishment enemies was when he ordered the firing of missiles at a Syrian airbase on 7 April.
“I am getting very good marks on foreign policy,” he said, in tones of surprise, in a Time magazine interview earlier in the month. “I am getting As and A+s on foreign policy.”
As his troubles deepen, military action against foreign foes is one of the few aces he still holds in his hand.