Last night, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. had carried out military strikes in Syria in conjunction with France and the U.K. Although he said during the briefing that he was "prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents," this morning he had a different message for America: "Mission Accomplished!"
A perfectly executed strike last night. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2018
Almost exactly 15 years ago, President George W. Bush stood on the deck of the the USS Abraham Lincoln and congratulated the sailors aboard, and the military as a whole, on a job well done in Iraq. Behind him hung a now-infamous banner. Just weeks earlier, American forces had launched a bombing campaign against the Middle Eastern country, rolled in, and deposed Saddam Hussein. It did indeed look to many bystanders like a successful endeavor.
A decade and a half (and some 4,500 fallen American soldiers) later, Bush's "mission accomplished" moment has become a symbol of that administration's foreign policy blunders and a stand-in for the lesson of how supposedly short-term military intervention can still get us mired in protracted, no-win conflicts abroad. That Trump would tweet the same words Bush himself later admitted he regrets having used—words that are already short-hand for a Republican president's irresponsible naiveté when it comes to sending U.S. troops into combat—demonstrates once again the utter lack of historical awareness the current commander in chief has brought to the task of running the free world.