He gave several, equally terrible answers, all of which were evasive, and, as per usual, Trump framed his evasion as some sort of brilliant military strategy.
REPORTER (off-camera): You seem to be reluctant to get involved, or to intervene, in Syria directly. Is that one thing that's changed after yesterday?[Video via Tommy Christopher.]
TRUMP: Well, one of the things I think you've noticed about me is, militarily, I don't like to say where I'm going and what I'm doing. And I watched past administrations say, "We will attack at such-and-such a day, at such-and-such an hour—" [gestures at King Abdullah II] And you, being a warrior, you would say, "Why are they saying that?" And I'm sure you sat back in Jordan, and you said, "Why are they saying that?" [King Abdullah II gazes back at him blankly]
I watched Mosul, where the past administration was saying, "We will be attacking in four months." And I said, "Why are they doing that?" Then a month goes by, and they say, "We will be attacking in three months." And then two months, and then: "We will be attacking next week." And I'm saying, "Why are they doing that?" And, as you know, Mosul turned out to be a much harder fight than anyone thought. And a lot of people have been lost in that fight.
I'm not saying I'm doing anything one way or the other, but I'm certainly not going to be telling you, as much as I respect you, John. Thank you.
For some odd reason—perhaps my failing memory, or the fact that it didn't happen—I'm not remembering quite the way Trump does the Obama administration having a countdown clock announcing the schedule of its military operations.
Nevertheless, there is a very good reason that a government might announce an impending military operation: The hope of avoiding it altogether. That is, to give the adversary the time and opportunity to change strategy.
And, perhaps, to come to the table in a diplomatic process and avoid warfare and its devastating consequences.
The Trump administration doesn't do diplomacy, and Trump views military operations exclusively as an end in and of themselves. He can't imagine why any president would undermine the power of shock and awe inherent to a surprise attack, because he regards military operations as a desirable objective, rather than something to avoid.
That alone is enough horror for a single one-minute clip of this president, but his insistence on presuming to speak for another country's leader is appalling and humiliating.
Not only does he put words in King Abdullah II's mouth; Trump puts his own words in his mouth. Quite literally. Trump brazenly asserts that King Abdullah II was saying the same thing he was saying: "Why are they doing that?" It is incredibly presumptuous, and aggressively bad leadership.
Further to that, it's provocative. Trump constantly risks pissing off foreign dignitaries with this kind of overfamiliar and bullying nonsense.
He is a dangerous fool, and every moment of every day that he remains in office, he makes us all decidedly less safe.