Politico’s Susan B. Glasser writes:
Ever since his shocking election upset victory in November, national security hands have been waiting for Trump’s first international crisis to understand more about how an untested president would lead, and this week will undoubtedly be studied as key to decoding his presidency’s emerging — and fast-evolving — approach to the world. So what have we learned from all the months of debating whether Trump will prove to be the “America First” neo-isolationist leader his campaign rhetoric suggested, or a dangerous warmonger who’s promised not to let the United States get pushed around anymore, now that the crisis has actually erupted?
First and perhaps most important: No matter how Trump ultimately comes out of the foreign-policy ideology test, what he really seems to want to be on the world stage is the not-Obama. And when faced with a choice, the best way to understand what Trump will do is to expect he will opt to differentiate himself as much as possible from his predecessor.
“He’s proved he’s not Obama — and that’s useful to him,” one former senior Obama official told me, one of many veterans of the previous administration I spoke with Friday who were supportive of Trump’s airstrike on Syria.
Indeed, the one thing in common among all Trump’s statements this week was that each contained a strong element of Obama-bashing, whether it was lamenting the “mess” he inherited in the Middle East and North Korea in a Wednesday appearance at the side of Jordan’s King Abdullah or his dramatic late-night Thursday announcement that he was doing what Obama would not by bombing Syria to retaliate for a horrific chemical weapons attack. It was necessary, Trump noted pointedly, because “years of previous attempts” to stop such behavior by Assad had all “failed.”