US President Donald Trump did it again. Just when his national security team put up a determined will to teach Russia a lesson by imposing a fresh round of sanctions for supporting the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people a couple of weeks ago, the president himself trashed the idea, at least for the time being.
On Sunday, April 15, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that Washington would put a fresh round of sanctions on Russian companies who were found to be assisting the action of President Bashar al Assad. In an interview to a news channel, Haley said the act of making chemical weapons a part of our everyday life couldn't go on.
However, soon after, the White House took a different stand on the matter, saying on Monday, April 17, that Trump was not approving additional sanctions against Russia.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Washington was considering additional sanctions and the decision would be made "in the near future".
Sanders also told the press aboard Air Force One that the president was firm on taking a tough stand on Russia but at the same time, he was in favour of having a good relationship with Russia.
Other sources in the White House said on the condition of anonymity that Trump was against imposing fresh sanctions for he deemed them unnecessary after Russia came back with almost no response after the missile strikes that were conducted on Syria on April 14, NYT said.
The conduct of the American establishment left the observers amused. Haley has been a harsh critic of Russia throughout, sometimes even eclipsing Trump who has projected himself more as a frenemy of Russian President Vladimir Putin than an enemy.
Stephen Sestanovich, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations and Columbia University who also served as ambassador to former Soviet states in the 1990s, summed up the American policy inconsistency aptly.
According to a report in New York Times, Sestanovich opined that Trump accepted his officials' advice on even days and rejected it on odd days, thinking it made up a strategy. "By and large, other governments don't know whether to laugh or cry at all this," he said, adding: "But in Russia, laughter is getting the upper hand," the NYT reported.
USA's horrendous inconsistency
Washington's policy on Russia has never been so horribly inconsistent as it has been in the Trump era. While the president, on one hand, congratulated Putin after the latter's re-election as the president of Russia and also harboured the thought of hosting him over a summit in the US; he also took the step of expelling scores of Russian diplomats from the US and closing down a Russian consulate in the wake of the Sergei Skripals case in the UK and threatened Moscow with missile strikes in Syria after the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma in Damascus suburbs.
The NYT report also said that Trump was displeased with Haley's remarks about imposing sanctions on Russia and his decision left the ambassador's credibility and the USA's global authority at stake.
As a senior Democrat leader said, Trump was "out of step with the American people" and it certainly holds true. The American president is such a self-obsessed individual that he has zero acceptance of a teamwork and depends on his personal whims and fancies even when it comes to taking a serious call on matters of utmost significance.
Trump allows his own viewpoints - logical or illogical - shape his administration's decisions and that is a risky game by all means. Trump, through his hasty steps, has reduced his own country's officials stationed across the world into a butt of the joke and it doesn't reflect well on the reputation of the world's only superpower.
No wonder the world is witnessing a more vivid transition towards multi-polarity with America's sad decline.