by Kevin Bailey
We need to be perfectly clear here. Donald J. Trump did not bomb an airfield in Syria (after warning the Russians the air strikes were coming) because he was moved by what happened to the children in Assad’s Syrian gas attack. Let there be no doubt that this was a wag the dog military action, as is becoming more clear by the hour. Malcolm Nance is reporting that not only did Trump warn Russia it was coming, but the airstrikes intentionally avoided destroying chemical weaponry at the airfield it attacked.
No, it’s glaringly obvious that Trump ordered those air strikes as a distraction from two things: the ever-tightening investigative noose of RussiaGate; and his plummeting approval numbers. If Trump actually cared at all about the plight of Syrian children, he would not be pushing a ludicrous refugee ban that prevents children just like the ones gassed by Assad from fleeing to the protection of the United States.
Trump has made it clear throughout his campaign that the only things he cares about are wealth, fame, and the accumulation of power to himself and his family. He does not care about the deaths of children halfway around the world, except inasmuch as it allows him to accumulate (or protect, in this case) one or more of those three things. In the Syrian gas attacks, Trump and his team saw an opportunity to (at least briefly) stem the tide of bad press, plummeting approval ratings, and the constant stream of revelations of Trump and his team’s possibly treasonous ties to Russia. From their perspective, the airstrikes worked perfectly. They have shifted the media narrative, and have even managed to move Fareed Zakaria from his position (just last week!) of calling Trump a “bullshitter” on-air at CNN to claiming that the insane orange lunatic “became President of the United States” because of the airstrikes.
In the hours following Assad’s gassing of civilians (including those children, whose deaths Trump cravenly used in pretending to have been “moved”) I began to suspect Trump might use the tragedy for his own ends, particularly after his initial statement centered on blaming Pres. Obama for what happened. And use the tragedy he most certainly has, and he (and the GOP) will continue to do so in the coming days.
The blatant hypocrisy of the Republican party in lining up in support of this unconstitutional action (with notable exceptions, like Justin Amash), while having refused to give Pres. Obama the Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF) he requested when Assad first gassed his people. While Pres. Obama’s foreign policy (particularly in the Middle East) was one of my particular disagreements with him, he at least attempted to use constitutional means to use military force in Syria. Trump didn’t even bother with that, and yet these same men are now lining up behind the airstrikes, with some even having the audacity to attack Pres. Obama for having “done nothing” when Assad crossed the infamous “red line”, when they themselves voted to oppose the AUMF that would have allowed Pres. Obama to act militarily against Assad.
When the final accounting of this moment in history is done, the Republican party will be found hypocritical and immoral. The members of the party (again, with a very few notable exceptions) have consistently put political party over the good of the country for the last several years. In some ways, the party itself will come out of this moment in history looking worse than Trump himself. Their blind support of the clearly compromised clown currently occupying the Oval Office, even as he unconstitutionally puts our troops in harm’s way without consulting them, is simply the most recent entry into that ledger of vulgar political partisanship.
Trump is wagging the dog in Syria. But the Republican party is willingly allowing themselves to become the “dog” that is being “wagged.”