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.
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.
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
My work documenting how the law was lost began about a quarter of a century ago. A close friend and distinguished attorney, Dean Booth, first brought to my attention the erosion of the legal principles on which rests the rule of law in the United States. My columns on the subject got the attention of an educational institution that invited me to give a lecture on the subject. Subsequently, I was invited to give a lecture on “How The Law Was Lost” at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York City.
The work coalesced into a book, The Tyranny Of ...
On December 31st, Josh Rogin of Bloomberg ‘News’ headlined “Inside Obama’s Secret Outreach to Russia,” and his opening sentence ‘reported’ on “the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little interest in … halting his aggression in neighboring Ukraine.” That ‘reporter’ from Bloomberg ‘News’ was ‘reporting’ from only sources inside the U.S. Administration — only from individuals who are hired by and who represent Barack Obama, none who are hired by and who represent Obama’s enemy Vladimir Putin; and so the question naturally arises as to whether Rogin and Bloomberg ‘News’ are ‘reporting’ propaganda, or are they instead reporting ...
The Ploesti old fields in southeastern Romania were a vital strategic bombing objective for the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Located 35 miles north of the capital Bucharest, Ploesti had formerly supplied one-third of Germany’s oil. The U.S. had targeted Ploesti to deprive the German military of petroleum. The U.S. first bombed Ploesti on June 12, 1942 during the HALPRO bombing raid. Then on August 1, 1943 during Operation Tidal Wave, a major bombardment was launched.
The Soviet Red Army advance on Yugoslavia and the capital Belgrade in 1944 was launched from Romania. Russian troops had captured Ploesti ...
As he launches his new TV series offering a critical view of US overseas exploits, the film director tells MEE he didn’t always see it that way
American controversies are Oliver Stone’s forte.
The Hollywood movie director has turned his cameras on the assassination of John F Kennedy, the Vietnam War and the 9/11 attacks.
But, when researching his television series, The Untold History of the United States, it was American exploits in the Middle East that left him with the most lasting impression, he told Middle East Eye on Wednesday.
“When I studied the untold history, one thing that really hit me hard was ...
Ukraine is an East European territory which was originally forming a western part of the Russian Empire from the mid-17th century. That is a present-day independent state and separate ethnolinguistic nation as a typical example of Benedict Anderson’s theory-model of the “imagined community” – a self-constructed idea of the artificial ethnic and linguistic-cultural identity. According to Anderson, the nation is abstract and firstly subjective social construction that defy simple, objective definition yet have been for the last two centuries the crucial basis of conflict in world politics and international relations, through assertion of their expressed nationalism.[i] However, nationalism is quite ...
The US military forces committed a classical example of the aggression on one sovereign and independent state on April 6th, 2017 by bombing a territory of Syrian Arab Republic by 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles killing civilians who are proclaimed as usually as “collateral damage”. A formal excuse for the aggression was based as many times before (from Vietnam, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya… cases) on traditional political false flags and mainstream media fake news used by the US propaganda machinery to sanction the Pentagon’s hegemonic policy of the Pax Americana.
The Fundamental Dilemma
The fundamental dilemma is why the US administrations of Obama ...
It has become embarrassing to be an American. Our country has had four war criminal presidents in succession.
Clinton twice launched military attacks on Serbia, ordering NATO to bomb the former Yugoslavia twice, both in 1995 and in 1999, so that gives Bill two war crimes.
George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and attacked provinces of Pakistan and Yemen from the air. That comes to four war crimes for Bush.
Obama used NATO to destroy Libya and sent mercenaries to destroy Syria, thereby committing two war crimes.
Trump attacked Syria with US forces, thereby becoming a war criminal early ...
The following text was presented at the International Conference on “9/11 Revisited – Seeking the Truth”, Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF), Kuala Lumpur, November 2012
The tragic events of September 11, 2001 constitute a fundamental landmark in American history, a decisive watershed, a breaking point.
Millions of people have been misled regarding the causes and consequences of 9/11.
September 11 2001 opens up an era of crisis, upheaval and militarization of American society. The post September 11, 2001 era is marked by the outright criminalization of the US State, including its judicial, foreign policy, national security and intelligence apparatus.
9/11 marks ...
Editor: Little did I know when I posted a short news story about the ‘invasion of Hungary’ last evening that the situation in Kosovo has become untenable and a mass exodus was so advanced. ‘Pungentpeppers’ has again pulled many threads together to give us the big picture of what is happening in Eastern Europe. Is the US responsible? An Austrian political leader says so!
Mass exodus from Muslim Kosovo into Europe
~150,000 or more Kosovars on the move since summer
~Hungarian Police catch 1,000 Kosovars daily – a small fraction of the total
~Hungarian mayor calls for fence as Kosovars overwhelm village
~Austrian politician blames ...
Since Soviet Russia’s 1991 dissolution, successive US administrations governed increasingly lawlessly and recklessly – Bill Clinton worse than his predecessors, Bush worse than him, Obama worst of all, at war with multiple invented enemies throughout his tenure – from inaugural day to the present.
A neocon Hillary Clinton presidency succeeding him risks the unthinkable – possible WW III. America’s rage for dominance, its wanting planet earth colonized, and increasing belligerence toward Russia and China points to eventual confrontation.
Unknown is to what extent, but when conflicts begin, they take on a life of their own. Starting them is easy, resolving them another ...
The Great Financial Crisis, the Occupy Wall Street rising, Wikileaks and Snowden exposure, imperialist interventions in Iraq-Libya-Syria, the economic-political developments in Greece, and the on-going string of revelations in the US politics take away all ambiguities related to democracy, development and state. With broad and fundamental connections and character the incidents and processes – parts of democracy and development – being witnessed by the contemporary world are significant with far-reaching implications, and helpful to comprehend issues of democracy, development and state.
No ambiguity: Ambiguous and confusing narratives of democracy and development are vigorously sold in markets despite the reality of repeated ...
Donald Trump, influential billionaire and a candidate for the president of United States, back in the 1999, as a guest of the famous host Larry King on CNN, spoke about that time ongoing topic of the bombing of Serbia.
Asked by Larry King, what does he think and what would he do if he was in Clinton’s place, Trump criticized the decision to bomb Serbia.
“So, I would do something different and I know it will sound ghastly to everybody. But, look at the chaos which we created in Kosovo. I think, we can say that we lost only few people. Of ...
Forty-three years ago on September 11, 1973, the Chilean military led by General Augusto Pinochet, crushed the democratically elected Unidad Popular government of Salvador Allende.
The objective was to replace a progressive, democratically elected government by a brutal military dictatorship.
The military coup was supported by the CIA. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger played a direct role in the military plot. (Nixon and Kissinger, image right)
For details see: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/KOR309A.html and references below.
In the weeks leading up the coup, US Ambassador Nathaniel Davis and members of the CIA held meetings with Chile’s top military brass together with the leaders of the National Party and the ...
The origin of jihadism is prohibited from being reported truthfully — this truth is prohibited by all of the Establishment ‘press,’ including almost all ‘alternative news’ sites — in the West, because it challenges all of the “sensitive” buttons (all of the bigotries, to put the matter in plain terms); and, though this fact (the Establishment’s bigotries, and its hypocrisy to preserve and protect their bigotries even while condemning those of other people) will prevent almost all of the news-media that I send this to from publishing it, nothing prevents me from writing it; so, here it is (in whatever ...
“Russia Wants to Undermine Faith in the U.S. Election. Don’t Fall For It.” Thus reads the cover ofTime magazine with a photo of Vladimir Putin on the cover staring at me from shelves as I sit in an airport. Genuinely curious, I check out Massimo Calabresi’s article online.
Of course, U.S. elections are almost completely unverifiable and do not even pretend to meet international standards. Jimmy Carter doesn’t even try to monitor them because there’s no way to do it. Much voting is done on machines that simply must be trusted on faith. Whether they accurately count the votes entered is ...
The EU and NATO are evil institutions. These two institutions are mechanisms created by Washington in order to destroy the sovereignty of European peoples. These two institutions give Washington control over the Western world and serve both as cover and enabler of Washington’s aggression. Without the EU and NATO, Washington could not force Europe and the UK into conflict with Russia, and Washington could not have destroyed seven Muslim countries in 15 years without being isolated as a hated war criminal government, no member of whom could have travelled abroad without being arrested and put on trial.
Clearly, the presstitute media ...
This last Friday it became public record that FBI Director James Comey reopened the Hillary Clinton email server investigation after repeatedly testifying before Congress and the world up to last July that he’d closed the case, after in his words not finding sufficient evidence of “any criminal wrongdoing” to indict her in spite of her four years as Secretary of State egregiously breaching our national security:’
-committing obstruction of justice and willful tampering with evidence,
-deleting 30,000 emails after receiving a court subpoena constituting destruction of evidence,
-not to mention repeatedly engaging in perjury before Congress and the FBI.
But obviously a federal investigation still in process in late June never stopped Bill Clinton’s illegal ...
Book by Vladislav B. Sotirovic: Global Research. Selected articles (second edition), Vilnius: UAB “Mylida”, 2016
ISBN 978-609-408-840-7, UDK 911.3:32 So-121
The book reviews by:
Dr. João Carlos Graça, Lisbon School of Economics & Management, Lisbon University, Lisbon, Portugal
Prof. Dr. Krisztina Arató, Vice-director of the Institute of Political Sciences at the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Eötvös Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary
Dr. Christian Rossi, Department of Social Sciences and Institutions, Cagliari University, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
Join the debate on our Twitter Timeline!
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Book By Vladislav B. Sotirovic: “Global Research. Selected articles” (Second Edition), Vilnius, 2016