On Thursday, President Trump ordered missile strikes on an airbase in Syria, following the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians. The move represents a major reversal in Trump’s attitude toward U.S. military involvement in the region. Trump’s tweets about Syria, dating back to 2013, show the now-president objecting strongly to U.S. military intervention in the country, over and over again. The tweets, in which Trump argues that attacking Syria would be disastrous, now directly contradict his actions as Commander in Chief.
The missile strikes are a response this week’s chemical attack on Syrian civilians that killed more than 80 people. “Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air base in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” Trump said on Thursday, according to The New York Times. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
This stance is an about-face for Trump. Trump was a frequent critic of Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy throughout his presidency, and, in 2013, at a time when Obama was considering military action in response to another chemical attack in Syria, Trump issued dozens of tweets strongly denouncing U.S. military intervention. In a tweet from September 5, 2013, for example, he wrote, “AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA — IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!” Two days later, he added, “President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your ‘powder’ for another (and more important) day!”
AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA - IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2013
President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your "powder" for another (and more important) day!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2013
In two tweets, Trump also insisted that any move by Obama to attack Syria should require approval from Congress. On August 30, 2013, for instance, Trump tweeted, “The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria — big mistake if he does not!” Trump did not seek (or require) congressional approval before ordering Thursday’s missile strikes.
The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2013
What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013
At a news conference on Wednesday, Trump discussed the chemical attack in Syria, and admitted to a shift in attitude. “These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated. My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much,” he said, according to CNN.
Don't attack Syria - an attack that will bring nothing but trouble for the U.S. Focus on making our country strong and great again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2013
If the U.S. attacks Syria and hits the wrong targets, killing civilians, there will be worldwide hell to pay. Stay away and fix broken U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2013
What I am saying is stay out of Syria.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2013
With almost 35,000 tweets on the books, Trump’s favorite mode of communication will no doubt continue to haunt him. As CNN has pointed out, Trump’s tweets have already caught him in a contradiction more than once.