Sunday, April 09, 2017

Is Trump Wagging the Dog in Syria?


All too often in the past Americans have, with the benefit of hindsight, foolish rallied around presidents when military action is taken abroad.  Rallying around the flag and the president can be a good thing if the motivations are pure and citizens are being told the truth.  The truth, however, is something nearly non-existent in the Trump/Pence regime be it in attempts to sell a health care "repeal and replacement effort" that would throw millions off of health insurance to the worn GOP canard that cutting taxes for the rich stimulates the economy to "raise all boats."  In the case of Der Trumpenf├╝hrer's sudden air strikes against Syria which are actions 180 degrees from his past pronouncements, one has to wonder about the real motivation.  Was it mere a means to distract the public and media from Russiagate?  Was it a crude attempt to bolster Trump's historically low approval rating?  In a piece in Politico, the former White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region asks these crucial questions.  Here are excerpts:
Even for a president known for impulsiveness and unpredictability, Donald Trump’s decision to launch military strikes in Syria yesterday was an extraordinary—and even curious—development.
For nearly six years, Trump has argued passionately against U.S. military involvement in Syria. He has asserted that Syria is “not our problem,” insisted that those who advocate intervening there could “lead us into World War III,” and has instead supported alignment with Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad in their fight against Islamic State terrorists. Only last week, top Trump administration officials announced that it was no longer U.S. policy to seek the ouster of Assad.
Yet suddenly, after watching the carnage of a chemical weapons attack that killed some 80 Syrians, Trump has proclaimed that his “view of Assad and Syria has changed very much” and authorized the first direct U.S. attack on Syrian military facilities since the start of the country’s civil war. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in stark contrast to his statement last week that Assad’s fate was up to the Syrian people, now says there is “no role" for Assad to govern the Syrian people and that “steps are underway” to remove him from power.
Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack was certainly horrific, and a strong case can be made for taking action and punishing the regime responsible for it.  . . . . What is puzzling today, however, is that nothing in Trump’s past suggests any sensitivity to these sorts of humanitarian concerns or support for the view that it’s the United States’ role to protect civilians abroad or enforce international norms. When President Barack Obama considered military strikes in response to the 2013 attacks—which used the same chemical agent as Tuesday’s assault and killed 15 times as many Syrians—Trump strongly lobbied against any military response and said it was “dumb” to have issued a red line in the first place. More recently, when Assad was indiscriminately bombing civilians in Aleppo—including targeting hospitals and schools—Trump again opposed U.S. military action. . . .
The idea that after Tuesday’s attack he suddenly decided it was imperative to protect vulnerable women and children also seems inconsistent with his absolute opposition to allowing into the United States even a small number of the refugees—predominantly women and children—fleeing Assad’s barrel bombs.
It is hard to avoid wondering whether the purpose of the strikes was less to defend a red line that Trump had never supported than yet another effort by the president to distract the media’s attention and change the subject from his problems at home. After all, ever since the investigations into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election picked up steam, Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to deflect attention onto other issues. . . .
With his popularity falling to unprecedented lows for a new president, and major legislative goals on health care and immigration blocked in Congress or in the courts, it’s not hard to believe that Trump would take a step that would dominate media’s attention, win plaudits from many in his party and some key allies abroad, and might even have some substantive merit.
The pattern—on this as on so many other policy issues—suggests a willingness to strongly and publicly advocate whatever position seems most politically convenient at the time, based on his own narrow, short-term interests, and with no compunction about reversing himself 180 degrees.
That approach may have served him well as a pundit and a candidate with no responsibility for his actions. But as a commander in chief who has just ordered American forces into military action, it is dangerous in the extreme.
Do I believe that this military action was taken to distract the media?  Most definitely.  The sad truth is that Trump doesn't give a damn about anyone but himself.  I suspect in the right situation, he'd quickly throw his own children under the bus.  The man is a liar, amoral and should never be trusted - ever. 

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