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.
Originally published on 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
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
On July 11, 1995, two NATO warplanes bombed Serbian forces, advancing on Srebrenica. But due to the bad weather and the fact that Serbian forces were holding French and Dutch prisoners of war, NATO called off what was to be a massive bombing campaign. Late in the afternoon, Serbian general Mladic and other commanders entered into Srebrenica. They had won, for the moment. This loss by NATO could not accept and through indirect manipulation and false representation of the facts, US and NATO slandered the Serbs and successfully changed the presentation of a legal military operation. Radio Voice of Russia ...
The history of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is continued with Ilan Pappe’s recent work, The Biggest Prison on Earth. For those who have read Pappe’s earlier histories, it is clear the original Zionists recognized the existence of the Palestinian population and the resistance most likely to rise from it. Also recognized are the actions taken throughout the occupation and settlement that the Jewish settlers were intent on marginalizing, displacing, and cleansing as much of Palestine as they could of its residents.
The revelation in this continuation of the history is the high degree to which these policies were officially planned ...
In 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. president George H. W. Bush through his secretary of state James Baker promised Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev that in exchange for Soviet cooperation on German reunification, the Cold War era NATO alliance would not expand “one inch” eastwards towards Russia. Baker told Gorbachev: “Look, if you remove your [300,000] troops [from east Germany] and allow unification of Germany in NATO, NATO will not expand one inch to the east.”
In the following year, the USSR officially dissolved itself. Its own defensive military alliance (commonly known as the Warsaw Pact) had already ...
What do Hillary Clinton and the communist government of China have in common? Aside from their shared support for subverting freedom, lack of respect for human rights, and support of invasive surveillance, they both possess armies of trolls who manipulate online narratives.
According to a new report from researchers at Harvard’s Department of Government, the Chinese government employs millions of people to make posts praising government on their behalf. The internet mercenaries are deemed, collectively, “The 50 Cent Party,” because of rumors they are paid per post (the report concluded they do not appeared to be paid and most are government employees ...
It is now clear that on 14 April 2018, the three Governments of U.S., UK, and France, fired over a hundred missiles against Syria, on no more 'justification' than staged videos that had been done by those regimes' own proxy boots-on-the-ground fighters in Syria, who are trying to overthrow Syria's existing, non-sectarian Government and replace it by a Sharia-law regime that would be selected by agents of Saudi Arabia's ruling family. In other words: the fighters whom the U.S., UK, and France, had been arming and training, had themselves created this pretext of a faked 'gas attack' having been perpetrated ...
Slobodan Milosevic was faced with an extremely serious and deadly situation in the 1990s. Indeed, that applied to all Serbs at that time in the Balkans, and still does to this very day. Mr Milosevic was up against the West, led by America and followed by the European Union. After realising that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia could not be saved, Milosevic did everything he could to safeguard the newly created Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and protect Serbs living in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo and Metohija. And because of that, the West imposed crippling and merciless sanctions on the ...
Most people have no idea of who is pictured above, but you should. The sight of this man should cause a similar revulsion to that of seeing Mussolini, Mao, Stalin or Hitler, as he committed an African genocide that resulted in the killing of over 10 million people in the Congo.
His name is King Leopold II of Belgium.
Most of the people never learned about him in school, and have also most likely never heard about him in the media either. This is because he’s not included in the popular narrative of oppression (which includes things like U.S. slavery and the ...
The media is currently in the midst of an anti-Russian hysteria that many have dubbed Cold War 2.0. Of course the first cold war never really ended as the wars in Yugoslavia, Chechnya, and even Afghanistan were aimed at Russia as was the relentless NATO expansion. This manufactured panic is a form of psychological warfare that went into high gear during the Sochi Olympics in 2014 as the US was working to launch a fascist coup in Ukraine. Since most ordinary people would be shocked to discover that Nazis had been installed in power in Ukraine an anti-Russian hysteria was ...
The current Ukrainian crisis and in fact civil war which stared at the very end of 2013 are grounded in for decades lasting internal interethnic antagonisms primarily on the Ukrainian-Russian relations including above all the “Crimean Question” as an apple of discord from 1954 between Ukraine and Russia. The crisis came from Lithuania’s capital Vilnius were in November 2013 an Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine had to be signed. Lithuania at that time (July 1st−December 31st, 2013) presided the European (Union) Council and formally had a full political responsibility for the breaking out of the crisis as being ...
The interest of European scholars, primarily German and Austrian, in research on Albanian ethnical origin, rose gradually during the second half of the 19th century. Their interest in Albanian and Balkan studies came later in comparison with the study of other ethnic groups and regions in Europe. The reason was that Euro-centrism of the late 19th century and the early 20th century defined the Balkans and its nations as the territory and peoples of obscure identity. In contrast to the “real Europe”, the Balkans was seen as the “Orient”, not part of Europe at all, and above all, it was ...
This article by Professor James Tracy first published in August 2015 is of particular relevance in relation to the “fake news” campaign directed against the alternative and independent media.
In a bitter irony, the media coverup of the CIA’s covert support to Al Qaeda and the ISIS is instrumented by the CIA which also oversees the mainstream media.
Since the end of World War Two the Central Intelligence Agency has been a major force in US and foreign news media, exerting considerable influence over what the public sees, hears and reads on a regular basis. CIA publicists and journalists alike will assert they have few, ...
In an email sent to his business partner and Democratic fundraiser Jeffrey Leeds, former Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote of Hillary Clinton, “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.”
Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State during Barack Obama’s first term was an unmitigated disaster for many nations around the world. Neither the Donald Trump campaign nor the corporate media have adequately described how a number of countries around the world suffered horribly from Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy decisions.
Millions of people were adversely harmed by Clinton’s misguided policies and her “play-to-pay” operations involving favors in return for donations ...
1. Out of the 14.2 million Jewish people in the world, (in 2016), only a minority of 43% reside in Israel.
2. Whilst 75% of Israelis are Jewish, 21% are indigenous Arabs with restricted civil rights.
3. Israel has the highest birth rate in the developed world, with an average of 3 children per woman.
4. The Netanyahu government now receives more than US$6 billion every year from the US congress/ AIPAC lobby i.e. equating to $1000 annually for every Jewish Israeli, courtesy of the American taxpayer.
5. Israel has induced over 500,000 of its citizens to illegally settle in the Occupied Palestinian West ...
If the Trump phenomena showed anything, it showed the consensus reality the mainstream media attempted to create concerning Hillary’s certain victory, as well as the consensus reality erected for decades, is not omnipotent.
In fact, the earliest days of mass print media were erected on a famous fraud known as the “Great Moon Hoax” of 1835 – something researcher Chris Kendall has long called attention to – wherein the “educated,” “elite” widely accepted the mainstream publications’ claim bat people inhabited the lunar surface.
In our day, a similar hoax still reigns, as mainstream media is literally as credible as Weekly World News’ Bat Boy ...
Bijeljina, Bosnia in 1992: Serb Volunteer Guard (Arkan's Tigers) led by Željko Ražnjatović Arkan after the action of "cleaning the town from the Muslim jihadists" (official Arkan's explanation). The victims are local Muslim family members. The guard was composed by volunteers of all moral kinds being independent on the front line and in fact waging its own private war. Bosnia is a neighbouring republic to Serbia with 1/3 of Serbian population. Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and (Roman Catholic) Croats committed terrible crimes of genocide against the local (Orthodox) Serb population during the WWII (the so called Magnum Crimen) while during the ...
This article was first published in November 2014.
Recent developments confirm what is known and documented: Washington is behind the Islamic State (ISIS) and at the same time it is behind the moderate Al Qaeda terrorists, which the Obama administration is supporting as part of America’s campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). And they expect us to believe that they are committed to waging a campaign against terrorists.
The Islamic State (ISIS) was until 2014 called al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).
Al Nusra is an al Qaeda affiliate which has committed countless atrocities in Syria. It is now considered by the Obama administration as ...
This essay is inspired by Professor James Petras’s article, describing that the US never wins wars despite trillions of investments in her war budget and obvious military superiority.
Professor Petras is of course right, the United States is currently engaged in seven bloody wars around the globe (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya) and has not been winning one, including WWII. The question is: Why is that?
To these wars, you may want to add the totally destructive and human rights adverse war that literally slaughters unarmed civilians, including thousands of children, in an open-air prison, Gaza, the US proxy war ...
For all the attention paid to the emergence of homegrown Islamist terrorists in Belgium, France and other European countries, one of the continent’s biggest radicalization problems is taking place on its fringes.
Kosovo, the tiny Muslim-majority Balkan nation of just 1.8 million, has produced more foreign fighters per capita than any other Western nation since ISIS declared its now-defunct caliphate in 2014. Some 413 Kosovo citizens, including women and children, have joined that group and other Islamist extremist factions since the war in Syria began in 2012.
As it attempts to join the European Union, Kosovo has been under pressure to stamp ...
The Harper government’s Bill C-51, or Anti-Terrorism Act, has been in the public domain for over a month. Long enough for us to know that it subverts basic principles of constitutional law, assaults rights of free speech and free assembly, and is viciously anti-democratic.
An unprecedented torrent of criticism has been directed against this bill as the government rushes it through Parliament. This has included stern or at least sceptical editorials in all the major newspapers; an open letter, signed by four former Prime Ministers and five former Supreme Court judges, denouncing the bill for exposing Canadians to major violations of ...
As will be shown here, the U.S. federal government, under President Donald Trump, is repeating the very same deception of the public, in regard to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, that it had perpetrated back in 2002, against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, under U.S. President George W. Bush. (By contrast, and for secret reasons, the U.S. federal government does everything possible to downplay the barbarisms, such as are occurring in Yemen, that are perpetrated by the fundamentalist Sunni Kings of Saudi Arabia, and Emirs of Qatar, even while exaggerating the barbarisms by the fundamentalist Shiite clerics who control Iran — a key ally ...
Srebrenica: 19-Year-Blueprint for US Intervention
A Book Review: “The Biggest Prison on Earth – A History of the Occupied Territories”
NATO: Seeking Russia’s Destruction Since 1949
What Hillary Clinton has in Common with Communist China
U.S., U.K., & France, Certainly Committed an International War Crime against Syria on April 14th, 2018
The Legacy of Slobodan Milosevic
Europe’s Forgotten ‘Hitler’ Killed over 10 Million Africans
The Cold War and Its Origins: The Inception of the Soviet Union (1917-1950)
The 2014 Coup d’État and the Ukrainian Crisis
Albanology and Political Claims of the Albanians
The CIA and the Media: 50 Facts the World Needs to Know
Countries Destroyed by Hillary Clinton
Ten Facts Everyone Needs to Know About Israel
The Entire Mainstream Warmongering Media is Fake
Two War Photographs: Bosnia vs. Vietnam
Twenty-Six Things About the Islamic State (ISIL) That Obama Does Not Want You to Know About
The USA – The Real Reason Why They Are Never Winning Their Wars
Kosovo: Home to Many ISIS Recruits
Impending Threat to Canadian Democracy: Harper Government’s “Anti-Terrorism Act”
Trump is Advised by Liars, Like Bush Was