Luring Trump into Mideast Wars

Donald Trump entered military terra incognita on Thursday by launching an illegal Tomahawk missile strike on an air base in eastern Syria. Beyond the clear violation of international law, the practical results are likely to be disastrous, drawing the U.S. deeper into the Syrian quagmire.

But it would be a mistake to focus all the criticism on Trump. Not only are Democrats also at fault, but a good argument could be made that they bear even greater responsibility.

For years, near-total unanimity has reigned on Capitol Hill concerning America’s latest villains du jour, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Congressmen, senators, think-tank strategists, and op-ed analysts all have agreed that Putin and Assad are the prime enemies of “peace,” by which is meant global American hegemony, and that therefore the U.S. must stop at nothing to weaken or neutralize them or force them to exit the world stage.

Until recently, in fact, just about the only politically significant dissenter was Trump. Accusing reporters of twisting the news at a tumultuous press conference in late February, he told them, “Now tomorrow, you’ll say, ‘Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.’ It’s not terrible. It’s good.”

But since getting along with Russia was terrible for America’s perpetually bellicose foreign-policy establishment, Official Washington declared war on Trump, building on Hillary Clinton’s charge during the last presidential debate that he was Putin’s “puppet.” It became the conventional wisdom that Trump was a “Siberian candidate” being inserted in the White House by a satanic Kremlin determined to bend freedom-loving Americans to its will.

As Inauguration Day approached, President Obama’s intelligence chiefs pulled out all stops to persuade the public that (a) Russian intelligence had engineered Clinton’s defeat by hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and placing thousands of embarrassing emails in the hands of WikiLeaks and that (b) Trump was somehow complicit in the effort.

The campaign was highly effective. The alleged Putin-Trump relationship was a major feature at the anti-Trump protests surrounding his inauguration and the major U.S. news media pounded on the Russia “scandal” daily.

On Feb. 13, barely four weeks after taking office, Trump crumbled under a mounting barrage of political abuse and gave National Security Adviser Michael Flynn the boot after it was revealed that he had talked with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition, supposedly in violation of the 1799 Logan Act, an absurd piece of ancient legislation that even The New York Times referred to as “a dusty, old law” that should have been repealed generations ago.

Under Media Pressure

A day later, the administration reeled again when the Times charged in a front-page exposé that “members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”

The article provided no evidence and no names and said nothing about whether such contacts were knowing or unknowing, i.e., whether they involved a John le Carré-style midnight rendezvous or merely an exchange of pleasantries with someone who may or may not have been connected to the FSB, as Russia’s version of the CIA is known.

In a March 6 article entitled “Pause This Presidency,” Times columnist Charles M. Blow called for little less than a coup d’état: “The American people must immediately demand a cessation of all consequential actions by this ‘president’ until we can be assured that Russian efforts to hack our election … did not also include collusion with or cover-up by anyone involved in the Trump campaign and now administration.”

How “the American people” would demand such a cessation or who would provide such assurances was not specified.

On March 31, CNN quoted an unnamed senior administration official saying that Trump’s hopes of a rapprochement with Russia were fading because he “believes in the current atmosphere – with so much media scrutiny and ongoing probes into Trump-Russia ties and election meddling – that it won’t be possible to ‘make a deal.’”

Thus, Trump found himself increasingly boxed in by hostile forces. But he still tried to fulfill his promise to concentrate on defeating terrorists in Syria and Iraq. On March 30, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the U.S. administration “priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” but to concentrate on defeating Al Qaeda and ISIS instead.

But the more Trump contemplated his predicament in the following days, the more he realized how untenable it had come. Tuesday’s poison-gas incident in Idlib thus offered a way out regardless of who was actually responsible. The only way for Trump to make peace with the “deep state” in Washington was by waging war on Syria.

Finally, on Thursday, hours before Trump sent a volley of cruise missiles wafting towards Syria, Hillary Clinton taunted him by declaring that America “should take out his [Assad’s] airfields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people.” The effect was to all but force Trump to show that he was every bit as macho as the former First Lady.

Frog-Marching Trump

Trump is certainly a fool for going ahead with such an attack in clear contravention of international law and entangling the United States more deeply into the complicated Syrian conflict. But the blame also should go to the people who frog-marched him to the precipice and then all but commanded him to step over the edge.

Within hours, all the usual suspects were congratulating one of the most scorned U.S. presidents in history for taking the leap.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described Trump’s missile barrage as “a proportional response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons.”

Republican super-hawks Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, previously as anti-administration as any Democrat, issued a joint statement declaring that Trump “deserves the support of the American people,” while liberal heart-throb Sen. Elizabeth Warren also agreed that “the Syrian regime must be held accountable for this horrific act.”

The Guardian, as fiercely anti-Trump as it is anti-Putin and anti-Assad, conceded that “Donald Trump has made his point” and that the next step would be up to Russia. All in all, Trump had never gotten such good press. It’s clear that Official Washington was pleased with Trump’s handiwork and was eager to encourage him to do more.

But the missile barrage was not just an assault on Syria but on reason and good sense, too. Although the Washington Post’s Adam Taylor tried to make it seem that the only critics of the missile barrage are members of the alt-right “known for espousing racist, anti-Semitic and sexist points of view,” the fact is that criticism flowed in from other quarters.

At Alternet, Vijay Prashad pointed out that there were few independent observers in Khan Shaykhun, the farming town where the April 4 incident occurred, to provide an accurate account. Eyewitnesses “with the densest relationship to the armed opposition,” he wrote, “are the first to claim that this attack was done by the government.”

Consortiumnews’ Robert Parry pointed out that rather than dropping the gas themselves, Syrian or Russian warplanes could well have triggered an outbreak by bombing a facility containing “chemicals that the rebels were planning to use in some future attack.” Parry also noted that Al Qaeda, which controls Idlib province, could have “staged the incident to elicit precisely the international outrage directed at Assad as has occurred.”

[Previously, United Nations investigators have received eyewitness testimony from Syrians about rebels staging an alleged chlorine-bomb attack so it would be pinned on the Assad regime.]

Something similar may well have occurred in August 2013, a sarin-gas missile attack on the outskirts of Damascus that killed hundreds and that appears to have been launched from a rebel-controlled area two kilometers away. The two incidents are curiously parallel.

The August 2013 incident, which horrified the world and brought the Obama administration to the brink of its own attack on the Syrian government, occurred just days after a U.N. team had arrived in Damascus to investigate an alleged chemical attack by rebels against Syrian government troops some four months earlier.

It made little sense for the Assad regime to have invited U.N. investigators in and then launch a more horrific chemical-weapons attack just miles from the investigators’ hotel. It would be a bit like someone inviting a police inspector to dinner and then committing a murder in full view.

Not Making Sense

As one independent analysis noted in 2013, the Assad regime would have to have decided to carry out a large-scale attack “despite (a) making steady gains against rebel positions, (b) receiving a direct threat from the US that the use of chemical weapons would trigger intervention, (c) having constantly assured their Russian allies that they will not use such weapons, (d) prior to the attack, only using non-lethal chemicals and only against military targets.”

The Assad government would also have had to decide “to (a) send forces into rebel-held area, where they are exposed to sniper fire from multiple directions, (b) use locally manufactured short-range rockets, instead of any of the long-range high quality chemical weapons in their arsenal, and (c) use low quality sarin.”

All of which seems supremely unlikely, but much of the mainstream U.S. media still treats the 2013 sarin-gas attack as the undeniable case of Assad crossing Obama’s “red line” against using chemical weapons. And the highly dubious 2013 incident is cited as a key reason to believe that Assad has done it again. [Recently, The New York Times has quietly backed off the 2013 claims although not explicitly retracting its earlier reporting blaming the attack on the Assad regime.]

Assad would have possibly even stronger reasons not to deploy sarin gas on April 4, 2017. He would have to make a conscious decision to court world opprobrium at a time when the tide of the war was finally turning in his favor with the liberation of Aleppo last December and with most world leaders having concluded that the Assad regime was here to stay.

To have produced and deployed a sarin bomb would have meant deliberately risking military intervention more than three years after Syria reached an agreement with the United Nations to destroy its entire chemical-weapons stockpile so as to avoid … military intervention.

All of which seems supremely unlikely as well. It would be an act of suicide – and after holding off a combined U.S., Saudi, Qatari, and Turkish assault for half a decade or more, one thing that Assad does not appear to be is suicidal.

Although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “there is no doubt in our mind that the Syrian regime under the leadership of Bashar al-Assad is responsible for this horrific attack,” in reality there is plenty of doubt.

Nevertheless, Trump decided to fire away before the facts were in because the enemy he is most worried about is not the one half a world away in Syria, but the Democratic-neocon alliance in his own backyard. The political warfare in Washington is now generating more agony from real wars in the Middle East.


2008-04-08

About the author:

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

Source: Consortium News

Save

Save 

RELATED POSTS
The Russian War Crimes in Syria in 2016-2017: Exclusive Photo Evidence
Exclusive photos of the Russian war crimes in Syria and the Middle East by "Free Media Group" volunteers, 2016-2017 with a proper illustrations of the Russia's militant imperialism:   The My Lai Massacre by Russian soldiers The Russian soldiers at the spot of My Lai Massacre with their victims Aleppo citizen with a daughter during the Russian destruction of the city Russian Orthodox monk in Moscow in protest against the Russian invasion of Syria Syrian children of war and the Russian occupant soldier   Killed Russian student in Moscow by Putin’s SS troops in protest against the Russian invasion of Syria and the Russian war crimes in ...
READ MORE
The US And China Can Avoid A Collision Course – If The US Gives Up Its Empire
The problem is America’s global hegemony comes with insistence on maintaining military and economic dominance right in China’s backyard. To avoid a violent militaristic clash with China, or another cold war rivalry, the United States should pursue a simple solution: give up its empire. Americans fear that China’s rapid economic growth will slowly translate into a more expansive and assertive foreign policy that will inevitably result in a war with the US. Harvard Professor Graham Allison has found: “in 12 of 16 cases in the past 500 years when a rising power challenged a ruling power, the outcome was war.” Chicago University scholar John ...
READ MORE
Obama’s Ukrainian coup caused 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees into Russia
On Tuesday, March 7th, Russia’s top parliamentarian dealing with the Ukrainian refugee influx into Russia — dealing, that is, with the people who have fled Ukraine as a result of U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2014 coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych — presented the first-ever comprehensive number of asylum-applicants from Ukraine who have received asylum there after that February 2014 coup. The Russian government had never before publicly provided a number, but does have an established system of processing refugees, including assignment of official refugee status, which «allows the recipient various social benefits, including unemployment compensation» and so each Ukrainian refugee has ...
READ MORE
Genocidal Corporate Media
Genocidal corporate media presstitutes follow the all-too-familiar script of blaming the victim for the crimes perpetrated by aggressor nations. NATO terrorists, for example, are invading and occupying Syria, and the Syria government is blamed for the ensuing disasters, but the presstitutes omit this this from their narratives and instead find creative ways to blame the al Assad government whose duty it is to protect Syria, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity. When terrorists are occupying cities, as they do in Syria, innocent people will always be victimized, including during government operations to clear out the terrorist infestations, but the presstitutes blame ...
READ MORE
Washington’s War Crimes in Syria
The United States government is guilty of war crimes. This is the stark conclusion reached by the independent international commission of inquiry established by the United Nations in 2011 to investigate human rights violations stemming from the protracted US-backed war for regime change in Syria. The Pentagon’s relentless bombing campaign in and around the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the so-called “capital” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has inflicted a “staggering loss of civilian life,” while forcing over 160,000 civilians to flee their homes, Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN’s commission of inquiry, said on Wednesday. US warplanes ...
READ MORE
Pax Americana: Who Are the Neocon Imperialists?
Neocon 101: What do Neoconservatives Believe? “Neocons” believe that the United States should not be ashamed to use its unrivaled power – forcefully if necessary – to promote its values around the world. Some even speak of the need to cultivate a US empire. Neoconservatives believe modern threats facing the US can no longer be reliably contained and therefore must be prevented, sometimes through preemptive military action. Most neocons believe that the US has allowed dangers to gather by not spending enough on defense and not confronting threats aggressively enough. One such threat, they contend, was Saddam Hussein and his pursuit of ...
READ MORE
Chile, September 11, 1973: The Inauguration of Neoliberalism, “Shock Treatment” and the Instruments of Economic Repression: The Junta’s Deadly “Economic Medicine”
“Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society. Long live Chile!  Long live the people! Long live the workers!”  President Salvador Allende’s farewell speech, 11 September 1973. “It’s hard to find someone with the fighting spirit, courage and the story of Allende. He was a man who actually had the branded name in history: democratically the left came ...
READ MORE
How the US Empire Was Made in North Korea
Over the past 15 years, fighting-talk has periodically flared over ‘what to do about that alleged “crazy Asian dictator”   in North Korea. Today’s round of brinkmanship by the US/Western ‘deep state’ against North Korea will – in all probability – unfold the same way as in previous episodes; it will fizzle out. China is a guarantor of North Korean security, so the US will not go to war with North Korea. Period. The battle between Trump and the Washington Crazies for control of the reins of empire continues, however, and the ‘Krazy Korean’ is relevant to that. I hope ...
READ MORE
Balkan Islamist Galaxy in a Nutshell
The Balkan political environment is shaped-amongst other- by the existence of two political strains of Islam, the Wahhabis, related to the Saudis & Gulf states and the Muslim Brotherhood ones, related to the Turkish-Qatar axis. In both cases networking developed under a series of upturns since the 1990’s and is inexorably related to wider events of interest such as the ongoing wars in the Middle East and the culminations in countries such as Turkey, Egypt but also EU , Western European ones; including direct security affairs. Nowadays we are witnessing a massive buyout of land and corporations by mostly UAE, Kuwait and ...
READ MORE
Kosovo: Hillary Clinton’s Legacy Of Terror
Kosovo is Clinton Country: a 10-foot-high statue of Bill overlooks “Bill Clinton Boulevard” in the capital city of Pristina. Hillary is also memorialized in what has become the crime capital of Europe: right off the street named for her husband is a store named “Hillary,” featuring women’s clothing modeled after the putative Democratic party nominee for President. Pantsuits figure prominently. As Vice puts it: “While former President Bill Clinton has had a boulevard named after him, it’s without a doubt that his wife’s the real star out here.” Why is that? As Gail Sheehy pointed out in her biography of Hillary, ...
READ MORE
Why can Hillary Clinton not be US president?
Like in Israel, US ruling elites plan for the future strategies and choose presidents to suit the needs. After using a Black President Obama to attack North Africans and Arab nations for their energy resources in order to ensure energy security of the superpower, now the US leaders seem to think of using a female President in the name of Hillary to advance US interests globally. Former US state secretary Hillary Clinton and associates are being pampered by those who are scared of any possible change in US foreign policy towards a possible thaw and neutrality in world affairs, notwithstanding what ...
READ MORE
Neocon Insanity and “Political Madness”: Hillary Clinton and the Dangers of Nuclear War
As we move into the final month prior to this year’s presidential election, the tempo of dramatic world events and developments that are breaking daily is mind boggling. Every single day we are seeing more outrageously desperate actions on the part of the globalists and their US government minions. Among the latest unfolding developments this week all fast tracking towards world war against Russia is NATO’s violation of international law deploying AWACS (Airborne Radar Warning and Control system) in Syria despite only Syria and Russia possessing the legal right to control the embattled country’s airspace. With both US and Turkish boots ...
READ MORE
The Parties of Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR Are Dead. Bipartisan Neocons Infesting Washington, What Prospects for America?
US duopoly power replaced the eras of Jefferson, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. No JFKs exist, President Kennedy as we recall was a peacemaker assassinated for opposing war, urging nuclear disarmament and the normalization of relations  with the Soviet Union.    New Deal, Fair Deal and Great Society programs are heading for history’s dust bin.  Bipartisan neocons infesting Washington want social justice ended, neoliberal enslavement replacing it, fascist police state harshness enforcing it. America is a gangster state, criminals running it – beginning in the 1990s under Bill Clinton, hardened under George W. Bush, institutionalized under Obama, certain to worsen no matter who succeeds him. US ...
READ MORE
The Criminalization of Parliamentary Democracy
Syria is being bombed as part of a “counter-terrorism campaign” allegedly against the Islamic State, an elusive “outside enemy” based in Raqqa, Northern Syria. While the ISIL is said to be “threatening the Western World”, the evidence confirms that the Islamic State is supported and financed by the Western military alliance, together with Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.  Amply documented, Al Qaeda and its various affiliates including the Islamic State Caliphate Project are creations of Western intelligence.  Moreover, whatever the justification, the bombing of a sovereign country is an illegal and criminal act under international law. It constitutes a war of ...
READ MORE
A Collection Of Thoughts About American Foreign Policy
Louis XVI needed a revolution, Napoleon needed two historic military defeats, the Spanish Empire in the New World needed multiple revolutions, the Russian Czar needed a communist revolution, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires needed World War I, Nazi Germany needed World War II, Imperial Japan needed two atomic bombs, the Portuguese Empire in Africa needed a military coup at home, the Soviet Empire needed Mikhail Gorbachev … What will the American Empire need? I don’t believe anyone will consciously launch World War III. The situation now is more like the eve of World War I, when great powers were armed and ...
READ MORE
Kosovo War and Plato’s “The Noble Lie”
During the Kosovo conflict in 1999, military intervention by the US and NATO was precipitated by the use of outright lies and deceptions. The conflict was “ostensibly about preventing “genocide” on the scale of the Holocaust. This was the Big Lie. This was the Noble Lie. In fact, the conflict was about secession and separatism and the creation of a US-sponsored Greater Albania. Why was the Noble Lie needed? A deception was needed because US policy was supporting an illegal land grab, a forceful take-over of territory from a sovereign nation, Yugoslavia. Why and how could such lies and deceptions occur ...
READ MORE
Between The Lines: Western Public Support For Albanian Terrorism
Terrorists attacked the Macedonian city of Kumanovo on 9 May, but one wouldn’t know that by reading the Western media’s reaction to the tragedy, despite the fact that they typically mention that 8 police officers were killed and another 37 wounded during the firefight. The media’s disingenuous ‘reporting’ reeks of ulterior motives, which is evidenced most visibly by their reluctance to use the word terrorist without putting it in questionable quotation marks, but also takes more subtle forms such as casting suspicion on the government for complicity in the attack and/or inferring that the attack was some type of legitimate ...
READ MORE
The Ukraine Between Fascism, Ochlocracy and Breakup
There is less talk about the rump-Ukraine in the news these days, especially in the western corporate media, and there is a good reason for that: that short-lived Urkonazi “Banderastan” is falling apart. This is hardly surprising since the entire concept was never viable in the first place. Let’s remember how it all began. It is crucial to remember that there was no spontaneous revolution or insurrection in the Ukraine, the Euromaidan had nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with the USA. Oh sure, the Ukrainian people were told that it was about “joining the EU”, but that ...
READ MORE
How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground For ISIS
PRISTINA, Kosovo — Every Friday, just yards from a statue of Bill Clinton with arm aloft in a cheery wave, hundreds of young bearded men make a show of kneeling to pray on the sidewalk outside an improvised mosque in a former furniture store. The mosque is one of scores built here with Saudi government money and blamed for spreading Wahhabism — the conservative ideology dominant in Saudi Arabia — in the 17 years since an American-led intervention wrested tiny Kosovo from Serbian oppression. Since then — much of that time under the watch of American officials — Saudi money and influence ...
READ MORE
Washington’s War Crime In Afghanistan
The massacre of 22 people—12 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, along with 10 patients, three of them children—in Saturday’s airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical center in Kunduz, Afghanistan is an appalling war crime for which the US military and Obama administration are responsible. On Monday, the top US commander in Afghanistan admitted that a US warplane carried out the deadly attack, while seeking to shift the blame onto Afghan puppet troops for calling it in. “An air strike was then called to eliminate the Taliban and several civilians were accidentally struck,” Gen. John Campbell told a ...
READ MORE
The Russian War Crimes in Syria in 2016-2017: Exclusive Photo Evidence
The US And China Can Avoid A Collision Course – If The US Gives Up Its Empire
Obama’s Ukrainian coup caused 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees into Russia
Genocidal Corporate Media
Washington’s War Crimes in Syria
Pax Americana: Who Are the Neocon Imperialists?
Chile, September 11, 1973: The Inauguration of Neoliberalism, “Shock Treatment” and the Instruments of Economic Repression: The Junta’s Deadly “Economic Medicine”
How the US Empire Was Made in North Korea
Balkan Islamist Galaxy in a Nutshell
Kosovo: Hillary Clinton’s Legacy Of Terror
Why can Hillary Clinton not be US president?
Neocon Insanity and “Political Madness”: Hillary Clinton and the Dangers of Nuclear War
The Parties of Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR Are Dead. Bipartisan Neocons Infesting Washington, What Prospects for America?
The Criminalization of Parliamentary Democracy
A Collection Of Thoughts About American Foreign Policy
Kosovo War and Plato’s “The Noble Lie”
Between The Lines: Western Public Support For Albanian Terrorism
The Ukraine Between Fascism, Ochlocracy and Breakup
How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground For ISIS
Washington’s War Crime In Afghanistan