DONALD Trump is learning on the job, which is fair enough, but it is hard not to see him as the world’s scariest intern.
After pelting Barack Obama with endless texts saying he was wrong and in effect a dangerous idiot to consider bombing Syria, President Trump – ‘Prez’, as he is regrettably called on the front page of the Sun this morning – has gone and done just that, sending missiles into an airbase from which the Syrians are said to have bombed Khan Sheikhun town, reportedly killing dozens of people with the nerve agent sarin.
Maybe that makes him a dangerous hypocrite, although that would hardly be news – “Hold the front page, Trump displays clear signs of hypocrisy.” “That story is so yesterday, sonny.”
But the evidence of hypocrisy is there, of course. Trump went even more orange in the face than usual telling his supporters that the US had to stop being the world’s policeman; yet a few weeks into his work experience scheme, he goes and straps on his guns.
To cynical eyes, this makes him a president needing a boost in his popularity at home, and so following the inevitable pattern of throwing missiles at a problem. To less cynical eyes, it makes him a man morally offended by the sight of children dying horribly from the effects of sarin.
Whatever view you take, nothing here is simple. Were those 59 Tomahawk missiles a warning to President Assad or the start of something bigger? Trump acted alone and without UN backing, suggesting the sort of maverick behaviour the world could do without; and yet plenty of people, including our own government, welcomed his actions as a firm response to the use again of chemical weapons on his own people.
If that’s what happened: the Russians dispute that version, as do those who ally themselves with Russia and those who take a US-sceptic view of the world.
How are we to know who and what is right in the end? The use of chemical weapons is appalling; yet much of what happens in the world’s hellholes is appalling and how do we decide when to intervene? And are we content to leave such decisions to a mercurial American president who has made such a screeching U-turn in his views on bombing Syria that the volte face has seen him turning like a car doing one of those doughnut spins?
Let’s hope he doesn’t get to like that smell of burning rubber too much. Who knows what he might do next.