Why Donald Trump's 'Mission Accomplished' tweet is so tone deaf

Less than 12 hours after he addressed the nation to...

Posted: Apr 15, 2018 1:46 PM
Updated: Apr 15, 2018 1:46 PM

Less than 12 hours after he addressed the nation to announce a series of military strikes against Syria, President Donald Trump celebrated on Twitter.

"A perfectly executed strike last night," he wrote. "Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!"

Mission. Accomplished.

You might remember those two words emblazoned on a massive red, white and blue banner that hung behind the last Republican president -- George W. Bush -- as he spoke aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003. Bush's speech that day was regarded as a marker of the end of "major combat operations" in Iraq after just over a month of fighting.

As the war in Iraq dragged on for years to come and American casualties piled up, the "Mission Accomplished" banner became a punch line, a telling indication of the Bush administration's gross underestimation of the challenge posed by the conflict.

Years later, as he was preparing to leave office, Bush acknowledged the banner was a mistake.

"It was a sign aimed at the sailors on the ship, but it conveyed a broader knowledge," Bush said in 2008. "To some it said, well, Bush thinks the war in Iraq is over, when I didn't think that. But nonetheless, it conveyed the wrong message."

And now, just hours removed from strikes on Syria that were hotly debated even within his administration -- and for which there is no congressional authorization -- Trump is using those same words to declare victory.

What it suggests is either an ignorance of or a disinterest in recent history. Anyone -- and I mean anyone -- who has followed the political and policy debate in this country for the last 20 years knows exactly what the words "mission accomplished" conjure up. Particularly when in reference to a military strike against a foreign power. In the Middle East. With fears of escalation into a broader regional war rampant.

Words matter. Even if George W. Bush and the "Mission Accomplished" banner never existed, it's more than a little bit strange for Trump to declare victory so soon after he announced the strikes.

Here's the key piece of what he said Friday night (bolding is mine):

"The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons. Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States. The combined American, British, and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power -- military, economic, and diplomatic. We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents."

If we are "prepared to sustain" our "response" until Syria stops the use of chemical weapons forever, it may well take more than a single night of missile strikes. And, isn't Trump the one who blasted the likes of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for supposedly telegraphing the United States' strategic moves?

Trump tweeting out "Mission Accomplished" won't make one missile miss or knock one US ship off course.

But Trump would do well to remember the words of philosopher George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
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Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
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Jasper221148
Attala214473
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Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 537813

Reported Deaths: 11024
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson791691529
Mobile41177808
Madison35002507
Tuscaloosa25871454
Shelby25076249
Montgomery24549591
Baldwin21290309
Lee15946171
Calhoun14556319
Morgan14364280
Etowah13890353
Marshall12262223
Houston10602282
Elmore10115206
Limestone10031151
St. Clair9890245
Cullman9730194
Lauderdale9449243
DeKalb8853188
Talladega8325176
Walker7259277
Autauga6971108
Jackson6830112
Blount6750139
Colbert6317134
Coffee5546119
Dale4869113
Russell444338
Chilton4343113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4040152
Escambia394577
Chambers3581123
Dallas3564153
Clarke351361
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302298
Winston275673
Bibb263064
Geneva252577
Marengo249664
Pickens234862
Barbour231956
Hale223677
Butler217869
Fayette212462
Henry189644
Cherokee184345
Randolph182042
Monroe178140
Washington167639
Macon160750
Clay156957
Crenshaw153357
Cleburne149241
Lamar143035
Lowndes139653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123041
Conecuh110629
Coosa108928
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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