Still, this is reckless and stupid for the President to be tweeting like this:
Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
And it makes even more of a muddle when he tweets immediately afterward:
Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
A new major bombing strike or other kinds of US military escalation in Syria has a real risk of winding up in a direct confrontation of some kind or other between American and Russia military forces. Peter Beaumont warns:
... in diplomacy – especially the diplomacy of war – the niceties of language are employed in defence of the legal status of armed conflict between states. What is said – and how it is said – matters when justifying the use of force. In Trump’s remarks, the appeal to international law and ethics emerges as nothing more than an expression of his personal outrage, and the dangerous diplomacy of “ya, boo, sucks”. Perhaps we should not be surprised by such comments from a political leader who has long ignored the counsel of his own lawyers, and for whom the world appears as a binary struggle, with those challenging him portrayed with nicknames and in the crudest terms of otherness. ...And too many Democrats have preemptively restricted their ability to criticize Trump's recklessness in the Middle East by carrying on like it was 1959 about how Trump is way too soft on The Russians.
If a sense of escalation has been palpable in the past few days, first in the0 Russian threat to shoot down US missiles, then Trump’s knee-jerk response, what is clear is that in his tweet, Trump has dangerously widened the scope of the crisis, from frustration among the international community at Moscow’s shielding of Assad, to hinting at the possibility of a clash with Russia.
That plays into deeper and darker themes of a competition between Putin and Trump – both thin-skinned populist nationalists who have vowed to make their countries “great again”. Two men with fragile egos who have each yoked to their national ambitions.