During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton famously warned voters against voting for Donald Trump because “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” Now, we’ve learned that the person doing the actual baiting is, in fact, none other than President Trump himself.
Citing “military and administration officials,” the New York Times reported on Wednesday that Trump’s recent arial bombardment of Syria was ordered hurriedly and without any congressional approval in part because the president felt hemmed in by his own social media bragging.
Per the Times (emphasis mine):
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis urged President Trump to get congressional approval before the United States launched airstrikes against Syria last week, but was overruled by Mr. Trump, who wanted a rapid and dramatic response, military and administration officials said.
Mr. Trump, the officials said, wanted to be seen as backing up a series of bellicose tweets with action, but was warned that an overly aggressive response risked igniting a wider war with Russia.
For reference, here’s the tweet that Trump was trying to bolster:
It’s very likely, of course, that Trump would have bombed Syria regardless of his tweets, but it’s, uh, not great that they played such an outsized role in the matter.
By some accounts, the hastily ordered Syria strikes were failures on both tactical and policy levels. The president, meanwhile, closed the loop of his social media/military ouroboros shortly after the Syria bombing, declaring it was “mission accomplished” on—where else?—Twitter.