The administration is struggling to frame and explain a coherent foreign policy response to two related crises — the fallout from chemical weapons attacks in Syria
and rapidly deteriorating relations with Russia
The intractable problems would challenge any new White House. But the Trump team seems to be exacerbating its learning curve by failing to come up with unified approaches and rhetoric among top officials. And it’s reeling from a series of missteps, including a Holocaust-related gaffe Tuesday
by White House spokesman Sean Spicer.
The confusion is threatening to erode any political benefit for the beleaguered Trump’s administration over the President’s decision to launch cruise missile attacks
in Syria to punish the use of chemical weapons, a move widely welcomed by many US allies and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Various Trump officials for instance struggled to get on the same page Tuesday over the question of whether Russia knew in advance about the chemical weapons attack by its ally President Bashar al-Assad’s government that killed more than 80 civilians.
“I think that they knew,” US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley told CNN’s Jamie Gangel
, going further than statements by Spicer and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that there was no such consensus in the intelligence community to support such a conclusion.
The apparent contradictions were symptomatic of the Trump team’s failure to agree a public line on its first big national security test. Haley’s comments and a string of other seemingly jarring interventions by…