It is not always a bad thing for political leaders to give the impression that they are unpredictable. It makes it much more difficult for their enemies to calibrate responses. But Donald Trump is not unpredictable in a good way. He is erratic. His aides have no way of assessing what his next move will be. As a result, they can't plan ahead. Do they have any idea what they're going to do next, now that they moved the Syria conflict into a new phase? I doubt it very much.
The Syrian regime has consistently refused access to independent international monitors to inspect their detention facilities. Amnesty International and other groups have been calling for action on this, and for the regime to publish names of detainees, their whereabouts and what has happened to the bodies of those who have died. It's now been one year since our bus journey. Many of the Syrians on that bus still have photographs of their missing loved ones displayed on their Facebook profiles. They are still waiting for news of their disappeared.
What is extraordinary is the resilience and the spirit of these children. Less than half of them are in school, but they play their games and dream their dreams. Hamid, at fifteen, dreams of course of returning home - and of football. From a tent in the mud of the Bekaa Valley, he's a fan of Barcelona.
In DeLillo's White Noise the narrator Gladney spends a lot of time with his academic colleague, Murray Jay Siskind, a cynical New Yorker with a penchant for constant theorising. Gladney, half-appalled, sums up his colleague's acidic take on the world: "Murray says we are fragile creatures surrounded by a world of hostile facts. Facts threaten our happiness and security."
Western states have always prioritised domestic responsibilities over international ones, as all countries do. However, the gap between these responsibilities has never seemed so wide. Recent political events seem to suggest a possible cultural shift when it comes to Western states becoming embroiled with an international crisis.