Is this a new Trump? Abrupt reversals may reflect experience

"I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late, " Trump told the New York Post.

The president went on to praise U.S. technology.

The president was describing how he had informed Chinese President Xi Jinping about last week's missile strike as they both ate "the most lovely piece of chocolate cake you've ever seen".

"The generals" asked him whether he wanted to launch cruise missiles at Syria in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Xi and China may decide to make some gesture toward North Korea to look responsive, but, in fact, the world still faces, this coming weekend, the prospect of serious trouble in the Korean peninsula with the combination of the big USA military exercise, the arrival of the US carrier battle group, impending South Korean presidential elections, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's marking the birthday of his grandfather, the founder of his country. Then after the debacle of the ill-fated American Health Care Act - which Trump chose to avidly support, despite the fact that it reneged on his campaign promise of insurance for "everybody" - Trump was ready to move on to other issues. The Trump administration is considering tougher economic sanctions, including an embargo on oil supplies to North Korea, flight bans, cargo interception and punishment on Chinese banks doing business with North Korea, Reuters reported Thursday, citing unidentified United States officials. "If they are unable to do so, the United States, with its allies, will!"

On top of the learning curve Trump has faced in his new role as president, there are some campaign promises he simply rowed back on between winning the election an his inauguration day. But having signed off on unilateral US airstrikes on Syria as he met with Xi last Thursday, Trump sent a message that he's willing to taking military action on his own. Let us be reminded that Americans can still call the shots - and the air strikes - for better or for worse.

A senior administration official said this week that the administration's moves reflect a developing agility in the White House, especially with the president's national security team, on problems including Syria, North Korea and the Islamic State group. In August Trump had told supporters: "There is nothing I can think of that I would rather do than have Russian Federation friendly". But nothing similar is likely from the Carl Vinson or its escorts - in fact, if any shots are fired it could be the start of a serious major conflict.

Trump, like other recent US leaders, hopes to pressure China into using its economic ties to North Korea as a way to push Kim Jong Un to end his nuclear program. The vast amount of coal that comes out of North Korea going to China, they've turned back the boats. North and South Korea have tens of thousands of troops and huge arsenals pointed at one other on each side of the demilitarized zone that separates them. Then, the American navy deployed in waters off North Korea, after a series of provocative missile launches by Pyongyang. "It's business", Shen said, predicting that Beijing would respond to Trump's overtures by offering greater collaboration on North Korea.

"Should the USA lose rationality and make the slightest movement to conduct preemptive strikes against us, our mighty nuclear weapons will obliterate the strongholds of invasion and provocation", the paper added. "What the president has demonstrated is the willingness to intervene when US interests are pushed". China helped North Korea fight a US-led coalition to a stalemate in the Korean War and remains the isolated nation's principal trading partner. Beijing faulted Trump's attack on Syria after Xi's visit and although the two leaders "reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula", per the White House, China has given Trump no commitment to rein in Kim.


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