I wasn’t uninterested in or indifferent to last night’s insanity, and particularly the protest resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, “the last adult in the room”; I just couldn’t think of anything to add. Dust and shrapnel, incoming missiles, lashing out, wheels coming off.
It’s too much to cram into one tight paragraph…U.S. troop departure from Syria and forthcoming 50% Afghanistan pullouts, Russia advantage and “malign actors,” an impending government shutdown over the wall because Trump fears the apocalyptic wrath of the Ann Coulter / Freedom Caucus righties, the eroding or tumbling stock market…it’s just wild instability and bunker-mentality chaos…a madman tailspin.
Filed last night by N.Y. Times reporter Nicholas Fandos: “Hawkish Republican lawmakers, still reeling from President Trump’s decision on Wednesday to yank American forces from Syria, found fresh cause for alarm on Thursday, after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in protest and reports circulated that the president was preparing to pull thousands of troops out of Afghanistan.
“Coming on the same day that Mr. Trump balked at an agreement to avert an imminent government shutdown, the rapid-fire developments prompted rare warnings from within Mr. Trump’s own party that his foreign policy could be leading toward dangerous instability on the global stage.
“In perhaps the most surprising response, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the usually circumspect majority leader, issued a cutting and lengthy statement, saying: ‘It’s essential that the United States maintain and strengthen the post-World War II alliances that have been carefully built by leaders in both parties. We must also maintain a clear-eyed understanding of our friends and foes, and recognize that nations like Russia are among the latter.’
“‘So I was sorry to learn that Secretary Mattis, who shares those clear principles, will soon depart the administration. But I am particularly distressed that he is resigning due to sharp differences with the president on these and other key aspects of America’s global leadership.’
“Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, citing Mr. Mattis’s resignation letter, said on Twitter that it was “abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries.”
“Mr. Rubio hoped, he said, that Mr. Trump’s allies could ‘persuade the President to choose a different direction.’
“Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a close ally of Mr. Trump, spent Wednesday excoriating the president for his decision to order the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, then argued on Thursday that a drawdown in Afghanistan posed a still greater threat, the resurgence of the Islamic State.
“If we continue on our present course, we are setting in motion the loss of all our gains and paving the way toward a second 9/11,” Mr. Graham, who returned from a visit to Afghanistan on Wednesday, said in a statement.
“Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, called it a ‘sad day for America’ because Mr. Mattis had dispensed ‘advice the president needs to hear.’
“’Isolationism is a weak strategy that will harm Americans and America’s allies,’ he said. ‘Radical Islamic jihadists are still at war with us, and no, ISIS is not gone.’
Privately, even senior Republican leaders expressed alarm about the potential instability ushered in by Mr. Mattis’s departure. The defense chief had been viewed as a reliable, calming presence among lawmakers of both parties on Capitol Hill, who have enthusiastically provided funds and authorization in the last two years to build up the military under his direction.