A child could see through the fake “chemical attack” supposedly launched by Bashar al-Assad just as his troops defeated the jihadists and Trump said he wanted out of Syria. But our President can’t, which raises the question: is he as stupid or stupider than George W. Bush? Or is he crazy?
The bad news is: possibly both. And no, there is no good news.
It was 6 in the morning this Sunday when the President of the United States sent out this tweet:
“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…”
We are expected to believe that the Assad regime committed a horrific atrocity against mostly women and children at the very moment when Syrian forces have decisively defeated the Islamist rebels and Trump declared he wanted US troops out of Syria. Days before this fake attack, the Russian Defense Ministry warned that a false flag provocation was in the making.
“Big price,” eh? The person paying that price is going to be Trump himself: his deplorables didn’t vote for him so we could establish an Islamic Sunni state in Syria, as John Bolton has long advocated. If he gets into a war – and the longer we stay in Syria, the bigger are the chances that we’ll be pulled into yet another quagmire – his presidency is doomed.
So let’s get down to brass tacks, as they used to say: doesn’t this prove I was wrong about Trump and his movement all along? Weren’t all the smarty-pants NeverTrumpers right from the very beginning?
I was very wrong to discount the role of character, personality, and intelligence: Trump is simply not fit to be President. The foreign policy he seemed to be promising, summed up in the slogan “America First,” was and is the right path for this country – but life is not about policies divorced from individuals. People like me – writers, journalists, and publicists – think in terms of ideas, but these cannot exist apart from the people who hold them, or pretend to hold them. Trump is a very imperfect vessel for a very good policy – and that is definitely an understatement.
Yet that has nothing to do with what I said and wrote about Trump’s various foreign policy pronouncements right up until very recently: as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, and exhaustively, the very fact that a successful presidential candidate criticized the Iraq war (“they lied”) and our policy of global intervention – e.g., questioned NATO’s existence – was and still is a great step forward. That Trump isn’t living up to his campaign promises and his post-election rhetoric is another matter entirely. The “deplorables” are in open rebellion against this new turn: Trump is losing his base.
So here’s the question: is he stupid, like George W. Bush, or is he crazy, in the tradition of, say, Richard M. Nixon?
The case for stupidity is fairly strong: after all, where’s the evidence that Assad launched a chemical attack? Like the series of fake “attacks” touted by the jihadist rebels over the years, this one lacks verification – but that doesn’t bother the War Party. Since when do they need evidence? Last time Trump fell for this routine it turned out that his own Secretary of Defense admitted – well after the US bombing raid – that there was “no evidence” that the Syrian government had launched a chemical attack. The same dodgy “proof” beleaguers the Skripal “poisoning” case in Britain – and, what a coincidence, the same villains are being blamed – Putin & Co. The idea that Assad had anything to gain from launching such an attack is not even worth refuting: he’d already won the war. So what would be the point? It isn’t hard to understand this, yet our President is clueless – or pretends to be.
The case for craziness – a real mental affliction – is even stronger, in my opinion. When President Obama was confronted with the same phony “attacks,” as reported by jihadist “activists” and “medics,” Trump urged him to stay out of it. Yet now that’s he’s in the Oval Office, he’s doing what he urged Obama not to do. This is the classic behavior pattern of a schizoid nutjob with multiple personalities: it’s “The Three Faces of the Donald,” and the big question is which one will emerge today?
Another issue I was apparently dead wrong about is the ascension of John Bolton as National Security Advisor: no big deal, I said. Wrong! I refuse to believe that Trump is caving in to the War Party on Syria just as Bolton gets the keys to his new office. And here’s another non-coincidence: this new turn comes just after Trump got into an argument with his generals over Syria. He wanted out: they insisted we stay. It didn’t take him long to find an excuse – this bogus “attack” – to cave.
So he’s not just stupid, and crazy – he’s also a coward. He refuses to confront the War Party head on, despite his campaign trail rhetoric. Just the other day he was telling crowds in Ohio how we were on the way out of Syria because “we have to take care of our own country.” The crowd cheered. Would he go back to that same audience and tell them we need to intervene in a country that’s been wracked by warfare for years, with no real hope of a peaceful settlement? Of course not.
He’s a Beta male masquerading as an Alpha.
The top three most powerful foreign lobbies in Washington are pushing the US to not only stay in Syria but to expand the role of US troops: the Saudis, who directly support the jihadist rebels, the Israelis, who have long sought to overthrow Assad, and the British, who are behind the maniacal anti-Russian propaganda campaign, starting with the shenanigans of Christopher Steele. Trump’s craven capitulation to these “allies” is yet more evidence of his cowardice under fire. And there’s no doubt that his blaming Russia – and naming Putin – as supposedly responsible for this “gas attack” is a ploy to get Robert Mueller off his back.
I have to say that the future looks grim. This puts Trump’s entire foreign policy agenda up for grabs, including the once-promising Korean peace initiative. Will he sabotage what might have been his greatest accomplishment – peace on the Korean peninsula?
It’s entirely possible.
We are now entering uncharted territory – although, come to think of it, that’s been true since Election Day, 2016. Hold on to your hats, folks, and get a grip on your nerves – because it’s going to be a long, scary ride.
A Note to My Readers: I need to clarify my column on the current confrontation between the Palestinians in Gaza and the Israeli military.
I did not mean to draw an equal sign between the two sides: the Israelis, who are wantonly slaughtering unarmed protesters, including children – and clearly marked media representatives – are clearly the aggressors. Their actions are inexcusable and just another giant step in the direction of complete moral degeneration. While I stand by my criticism of such actions as the “Knife Intifada,” what’s clear to me is that this is not the consequence of some inherent flaw in the Palestinian cause, but a mark of sheer desperation. Yes, Hamas is a monstrous entity, but the Israelis encouraged its growth and development from the start, which is something you don’t read about very often: see here.
Let no one misunderstand me: while I never give unconditional support to anyone, and I’m especially critical of the Palestinian leadership, I stand with the Palestinian people in their just struggle against an oppressive apartheid state. Period.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.