Friday, April 07, 2017

US MISSILE STRIKE IN SYRIA: MY INITIAL THOUGHTS

I have a very cynical view about anything and everything done by Donald Trump. So what do I think about the missile strike? My initial thoughts are below, but I know that as more information comes out, I could have different thoughts.

First and foremost, we know as a fact that everything Donald Trump does has one, and only one purpose: to promote Donald Trump. His first two months in office have been a shitstorm of ineptitude, chaos, scandal and angry tweets. But suddenly an opportunity was served up that he could make into something good for himself, the Syrians used chemical weapons against their own people. First, Trump did what Trump does best, he blamed someone else - Barak Obama, that weakling! - for the incident. Then he did something manly and decisive - he bombed the crap out of a Syrian airfield. Well, he didn't do the bombing, but he ordered the military to do it.

It appears that the Trump administration called the Russkies to warn them not to have any people or equipment at the target airfield; this makes sense, why risk getting into a fight with Putin? The Russians are now spitting and spouting and posturing about the US military action - great political theater for their own people to see. How dare America do something so horrible? (We must conveniently ignore Crimea and the Ukraine.)

So, a simple and effective action (i.e. Donald Trump is The Man, and don't mess with him!) to boost the Trump credibility at a time when it is rapidly shrinking. Nicely played. But we need to look at some alternative facts.

1. The Western Democracies should have acted against the Assad regime years ago to stop the mass killings of Syrian civilians and the tidal wave of refugees streamimg out of that country. The lack of decisive action for so long is a shameful stain on the United Nations and all the democratic nations, as usual.

2. Donald Trump, who shed crocodile tears about the children murdered in the chemical attack, does not give a gnats ass about Syrian children, or any other children for that matter. After all, these are the same kids he won't let into the United States because they are from Syria. And, as my wife eloquently pointed out in a Facebook post, Trump doesn't care about the children whose lives are torn apart when their father or mother is swooped up by ICE and deported from the USA, or like the ones who will be harmed by his program and funding cuts of social service and educational programs, environmental regulastions, and so forth.

3. We have not seen/heard a Trump plan for the Syrian conflict. What we did hear over and over from Candidate Trump was that the United States should not get involved in the Syrian conflict, or any other for that matter. My view, yes - the cynical one - is that this is a one-off opportunity for The Donald to boost his approval ratings. He told us over and over that he has plans - many, many plans that are great, great - to defeat ISIS, to end the Syrian civil war, to bring peace to the Middle East. When pressed for details, he feigned secrecy; "I can't tell you because then the enemies will know, and that would be stupid; after all, I'm smart!" Fact: for every secret plan Donald Trump claimed to have as a candidate, he has issued an Executive Order for various government entities to develop a plan within X days and present it to him. Don't believe me? Check it out at whitehouse.gov.

4. The Russians. The Russians are complicit in mass murder in Syria (and other places). Under the cover of "fighting ISIS," they have bolstered Assad's murderous regime and enabled him to remain in power by murdering Syrians using high- and low-tech weapons. The Russians excell at deception. They excell at political theater. Oh my, they are so upset, so angry, so righteous about the Trump missile strike! They are posturing and rattling swords, and threatening something dire, and truly bidding for the best actor award! Bullshit! They were told about the strike before it happened so they could get their people and equipment out of the way. They are complicit with Trump as well as the Syrians. This is political theatrer at it's best (or worst).

5. The Syrian people. This is the shame, the heartbreak of it all. The Syrian people, on all sides of the conflict, have suffered for years. Estimates of Syrians killed in the conflict range from 325,000 to nearly 500,000. An estimate of the number of people wounded in the conflict since 2011 is nearly 2,000,000. The Syrian Centre for Policy Research estimates that 11.5% of the country's population have been killed or injured in the war. Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria, is a medical school graduate from Damascus University and did post-graduate work in ophthamology at the Western Eye Hospital in London. So much for the Hippocratic Oath to "do no harm." (In Assad's case, it is the hypocrytic oath!) This monster remains in power, thanks largely to the actions of Russia, and the inaction of the rest of the world.

6. "Donald Trump is finally being presidential." NO!!! He is not!!! Do not try to normalize Donald J. Trump!!! He is not being "presidential;" he is being Donald J. Trump and doing everything he can to promote himself and his brand. This is not "normal," and never will be. Everything he does is all about him. It is not even "republican" or "conservative" or "christian." It is Trumpism, and Trumpism is flim-flam, snake oil, a con, self-promotion, profiteering, and bigoted misogynistic uncaring hurtful harmful unadulterated bullshit! Did I make myself clear just now?

Will the world move on from and forget about the Trump missile strike at a Syrian airfield? Very likely, unless the Russians see an opportunity to stir up more trouble and shame the USA, or Trump decides that he can use another boost to his ratings. Personally, I am in favor of getting rid of Assad and moving the struggle in Syria out of the realm of war and into the realm of politics. I do not think the United States should always act alone, as the policeperson of the world, but should build effective coalitions to act quickly when thousands of people are being attacked by their own government. Syria is not the only place in the world where this is happening, and shame on all of us in the democratic world who ignore these brutal conflicts.

Let's keep this conversation going; let's not turn our backs on the oppressed people of the world.

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4 comments:

judithbpi said...

I agree with most of what you said. I'd add that in addition to boosting his ratings, it distracts us from the subject of investigating how Mr T won the election. As to his acting presidential, the media (mostly broadcast) must be so hungry to stay in his good graces that they have completely lost their objectivity.

My other thought is that as I suspected she would be, Hillary was right up there with her comments as hawkish as ever.

John Stalnaker said...

You know, Paul, your post gets right to the heart of the matter: Its complicated. Life's complicated, politics are complicated. You can't tell why anyone is doing anything anymore. It gets harder to know what is right when everyone else is always wrong. I don't stand by Trump. But I stand by someone FINALLY doing something to reign in these heinous attacks against innocent civilians. This was strictly symbolic - a message. It's what comes next that matters. Let's hope that this is not the slippery slope it could turn out to be, and that at some point reason and compassion prevail. I don't hold out a lot of hope for that outcome anymore. It seems like the lessons of today are it must get worse before it can get any better.

Paul said...

Thanks for the input. Yes, this is complicated stuff. An interesting take on Trump foreign policy, such as it is, by James P. Rubin, a former State Department person, in the NYTimes today, "59 Missiles don't Equal a Foreign Policy." He points out the statements by UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Sec. of State Rex Tillerson that the US would no longer focus on removing Assad from control of Syria. This message could have emboldened Assad to act with impunity, thinking that the Trump administration would not react to his egregious actions. Trump then reversed this course and sent missiles flying. So the world is left wondering what the foreign policy of the United States really is. Mr. Rubin points out that, so far, there doesn't appear to be a foreign policy. This is not a good place for us to be, and it could, as John says, get a lot worse before it gets better.

Ted St. John said...

hear, hear!

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