‘America Is Respected Again!’ Trump Tweets as Allies Question His Leadership
WASHINGTON — President Trump modified his favorite campaign slogan in a defensive response to a shifting worldview on Monday, tweeting “AMERICA IS RESPECTED AGAIN!” even as lawmakers and foreign allies alike braced for the potentially destabilizing effects of his policy decisions on national security.
He also said Saudi Arabia would “spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States.” It was not immediately clear how or when that would happen, or whether it was in addition to the $100 million that Saudi Arabia sent the United States in October for Syria reconstruction.
Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States. See? Isn’t it nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbors rather than a Great Country, the U.S., that is 5000 miles away. Thanks to Saudi A!
Ensconced in the White House with no official Christmas Eve plans but to host a meeting on border security and track Santa Claus on military radar, Mr. Trump showed no sign of slowing a Twitter storm amid a government shutdown, a departing defense secretary and cratering stock market. He even lamented, “I am all alone (poor me).”
His posts were replete with grievances about funds for border security, the Federal Reserve chairman, Democrats critical of his relationship with American allies and Brett McGurk, the departing special envoy for the coalition fighting the Islamic State.
“To those few Senators who think I don’t like or appreciate being allied with other countries, they are wrong, I DO,” Mr. Trump wrote in a pair of tweets critical of Jim Mattis, his outgoing Defense Secretary. “What I don’t like, however, is when many of these same countries take advantage of their friendship with the United States, both in Military Protection and Trade.”
Mr. Trump added that “General Mattis did not see this as a problem. I DO, and it is being fixed!”
Mr. Mattis’s resignation letter on Thursday served as a rebuke of the president’s sharp demands of America’s allies and softened approach toward some of its adversaries. Only over the weekend did Mr. Trump realize that Mr. Mattis’s letter was a critique of the president’s policies, leading to him to accelerate Mr. Mattis’s departure.
Mr. Mattis’s resignation was triggered by Mr. Trump’s abrupt decisions last week to pull troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Those moves have plunged some of the United States’ longest allied partners into uncertainty as they grapple with an American leader who largely treats those relationships as bottom-line business transactions.
Global leaders have also echoed Mr. Mattis’s rebuke of Mr. Trump’s worldview.
“I very deeply regret the decision made on Syria,” President Emmanuel Macron of France said during a news conference on Sunday. “To be allies is to fight shoulder to shoulder. It’s the most important thing for a head of state and head of the military. An ally should be dependable.”
Mr. Trump also repeated his demand for a border wall, which Democrats have refused to fund, prompting a stalemate that has shutdown much of the government. And he again castigated the leadership of Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman, as markets continued a sell off.
“The only problem our economy has is the Fed,” Mr. Trump said. “They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders.”
But the bulk of his ire was directed at foreign policy critics and fallout over his “America First” approach.
He described Mr. McGurk as an Obama-era appointee, and accused him of “loading up airplanes with 1.8 Billion Dollars in CASH & sending it to Iran” as part of the nuclear deal that world powers struck with Tehran — an agreement from which Mr. Trump has withdrawn the United States.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly made this misleading claim about money the United States transferred to Iran in 2016. The Obama administration did not directly give money to Iran as part of the 2015 nuclear deal; instead the United States unfroze billions in assets as part of a decades-long debt dispute, $1.7 billion of which was transferred in cash in 2016. The payment was indirectly tied to the nuclear deal.
Mr. McGurk, who worked under the administration of President George W. Bush as well as President Barack Obama, led the delicate, 14-month negotiations with Iran that prompted the release of Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist. This summer, Mr. McGurk was the target of assassination threats from Iranian-backed militias and demonstrators in Iraq.
Over the weekend, Mr. Trump suggested on Twitter that Mr. McGurk was a grandstander. The envoy resigned in protest over the Syria decision, which he said had blindsided United States officials and allies in the Middle East, including American-backed Kurdish soldiers who are fighting the Islamic State.
Noah Weiland contributed reporting.
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