In a truly astonishing series of events this week, the Trump White House appears to be locked in a dangerous free fall that threatens to destabilize not just the country, but the entire planet too.
After his Defense Secretary quit in horror over his decision to abruptly pulled US troops out of Syria and the threat of a lengthy government shutdown looms, Trump's tenure at the White House seems more endangered than ever.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a rare and stinging rebuke to the president, highlighting just how dangerous his behavior has been.
"My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held," he wrote in a letter to the president.
"Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects," he continued, "I believe it is right for me to step down from my positions."
In other words: you are insane, and I want out.
Syria and the wall
Trump's refusal to pass a temporary spending bill to keep the government from shutting down appears to be in response from conservative media outlets scolding him for caving to the Democrats on the wall. The president was set to make a deal, but did an about turn in order to save face with his base. Given Trump doesn't have the votes in the Senate to get funding for his wall, he is gambling that shutting the government down will force his opponents to come to the table. The bet is not a smart one though, and Trump is more politically isolated than ever -- and from his own party too.
The petulant president
Trump's decision to yank troops out of Syria was most likely due to his loss of face over the border wall.
"What triggered Trump on Syria was giving up on the wall," an adviser told Axios.
Remember, this is the leader of the most powerful democracy on earth, and his foreign policy decisions appear to be based not on the country's strategic interests, but his petty political vendettas.
Outside of Trump's fanatic base, no one on the planet believes his decision to suddenly bring the troops home from a hugely complex conflict will do any good. To the contrary, they believe it will cause enormous harm. Europe is up in arms about Trump's reckless move, and for good reason. Regardless of what you think about the conflict in Syria, military decisions with far reaching consequences must be planned carefully and executed with extreme diligence. Trump has opted instead to surprise all of America's allies and undermine his generals by doing the exact opposite.
“Just read Gen. Mattis resignation letter," tweeted Marco Rubio. "It makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries.”
Syria is still an incredibly volatile country, and without US support, it is unclear how long the international community can prevent violence and extremism from spreading. By all indications, it isn't long.
As Trump careens from one policy disaster to another, his support on Capitol Hill is waning fast. Republicans are now openly criticizing the president, with even Mitch McConnell saying he was "particularly distressed" over Mattis's departure.
While Trump campaigned on pulling out of Syria, he has largely deferred policy to his generals. Now he is taking over control and pushing his "America First" agenda, we are now at the mercy of Trump's strategic military thinking. Given he doesn't think, the consequences will likely be dire.
We are headed towards disaster
It is hard to convey just how calamitous this week has been for Trump and his administration. It isn't just bad, it is catastrophic. Trump's inability to strategize, plan, or think about the long consequences of his actions is now bringing both political parties in America to the same conclusion: that the president of the United States is simply incapable of governing.
Trump's recent temper tantrums have severely undermined not only his own government, but the entire global community. Unless dramatic action is taken to remove him from office, it is not clear where the catastrophic events of this past week will head. One thing is certain though, it won't be good.