He decides on his own, ignoring the opinions of related countries and department chiefs in charge. He removes those opposed to him without mercy. The solo wandering by U.S. President Donald Trump, under the guise of "America First" is accelerating, as seen in his handling of Syria.
All of a sudden, Trump announced a full withdrawal of American troops from Syria. Right after that, Defense Secretary James Mattis, who had opposed the withdrawal, announced his intent to resign, revealing a difference of opinions between the two men.
"Does the USA want to be the Policeman of the Middle East, getting NOTHING but spending precious lives and trillions of dollars protecting others who, in almost all cases, do not appreciate what we are doing?" Trump tweeted. Mattis, in his letter of resignation, wrote, "While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies."
Their difference is clear. Trump has a tendency of pursuing benefits right in front of him, making light of the trust the United States has earned over the years or the interests of the international community. He is more dictatorial than President George. W. Bush, who launched the war on Iraq in 2003 based on unilateralism.
The radical group Islamic State in Syria has deteriorated for sure, but they may regroup. Trump called former president Barack Obama "the founder" of the IS during his 2016 presidential bid, saying his predecessor's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq prematurely gave rise to the radicals. These words clearly contradict his latest move to withdraw from Syria.
Before the U.S. withdraws from Syria, it should have conducted detailed discussions on the future of the country with European and Middle Eastern allies that have taken part in U.S.-backed military operations against the IS and applied certain pressure on the Assad regime in Syria.
Trump may want the U.S. to stop being the policeman of the Middle East, but stating so while carrying out missile attacks twice on Syria over the administration's alleged use of chemical weapons cannot evade criticism of being irresponsible.
Following the U.S. withdrawal, Russia and Iran will increase their presence in Syria while Kurdish forces close to the U.S. will be driven into a corner. But it is not clear how the U.S. will handle the Middle East situation in the future.
In the Trump administration, former generals have been the source of stability in the planning and execution of policies. But those generals -- chief of staff John Kelly and Mattis -- will soon be gone.
With the departure of Mattis, who opposed the U.S. withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, Washington is likely to assume a tougher diplomatic posture. If Trump tightens his approach toward North Korea and China in a bid to secure his second term, Japan will be stuck between a rock and hard place.