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Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm


1/ Donald Trump’s April 11 missile-attack-promising reference to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as a “Gas Killing Animal who kills his own people” reeked of moral hypocrisy in at least three ways:

* Trump had just hosted his “good friend” the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, a leading architect of the arch-reactionary Saudis’ United States-backed and U.S.-equipped crucifixion of Yemen.  The Saudi/U.S. war on Yemen has murdered tens of thousands of Yemini civilians and created one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent history.

* Trump is trying to turn the entire planet into a Greenhouse Gas Chamber by pushing the U.S. to extract and burn every fossil fuel it can get its hands on.

* If Trump cared about the fate of the Syrian people, he would end his ban on virtually all Syrian refugees to the U.S.

2/ The inverted fetishization of chemical weapons by the U.S. and its Western allies is absurd. Leaving aside the fact that U.S. and its allies have used chemical agents (white phosphorous and more), numerous mass-homicidal actors in Syria – the Assad regimes, ISIS and other Islamist rebels, the U.S., and Russia – have maimed and murdered thousands upon thousands of Syrian civilians with conventional weapons. The West’s selective outrage over chemical ordnance is ethnically nonsensical. It’s like being against the death penalty only when executions take place in gas chambers or through liquid injections but being fine with executions through hanging, firing squad, and the electric chair.  A child killed by a U.S. bomb is no less dead than a child killed by a Syrian or Islamo-terrorist (or Israeli or U.S.) chemical weapon.

3/ It has not been proven that Assad or his military ordered the chemical attack that Trump seized on hungrily as the pretext for his attack. The chemical assault of which Assad is accused would seem to have made little sense for Assad given Trump’s prior recent announcement that he wanted to get the last U.S. troops out of Syria. Trump declared his determination to launch missiles almost immediately upon being told – without anything remotely like serious proof – that Assad had used chemical weapons against civilians in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7. Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons only arrived to investigate U.S. claims after Trump’s missile spasm, one week the alleged chemical assault. It is distinctly possible that aysh al-Islam, the jihadist group in control of Douma at the time of Assad’s alleged chemical attack, staged the alleged chemical attack as part of its propaganda campaign against the Assad government.

4/ Trump “wagged the dog” by attacking Syria. His main purpose was certainly to turn the news cycle away from his scandalous political situation at home (the tightening noose of the Mueller investigation and related reports of his personal corruption) with a distracting and diversionary military adventure abroad. Numerous incidents of real or alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government have occurred over the last year. The timing of Trump’s attack last week is certainly connected to his domestic political psycho-drama, which heated up with the federal raid on his personal lawyer (Michael Cohen) and the coming release of former FBI Director James Comey’s memoir. This was somewhat openly discussed on U.S. cable news even as the talking heads turned their broadcasts into a patriotic missile show, with Trump’s attack treated mostly in favorable terms. (“Mission accomplished,” indeed).

5/ Trump’s absurdly rapid promise (on the morning of April 11) – via Twitter, of course – to launch retaliatory missiles into Syria was terrible. It put the insecure, childish, narcissistic, and hyper-pseudo-masculinist former draft-dodger of a president at risk of looking like a feckless paper tiger if he didn’t follow through on his threat. World peace must never be held hostage to the fragile ego and gender identity of an orange-tinted, small-fingered, and Twitter-addicted man-child like Donald Trump.  The president’s Twitter account (and perhaps his FOX News-focused television-viewing) should be brought under adult supervision!

6/ Even precisely targeted U.S. missile attacks are particularly dangerous in Syria, where Russian military forces are in place in defense of the Assad regime.Resurgent nationalist and post-Soviet Russia is still a nuclear superpower.  It has strong reasons to feel threatened by the U.S. and Washington’s NATO allies, who have provocatively enlarged the West’s military and economic reach in Eastern Europe since the end of the original Cold War.  Thanks to U.S.-led NATO expansion and the U.S.-led New Cold War, U.S.-Russian relations are already on a hair-trigger.  Any attack on Russian forces in Syria – purposeful or inadvertent – threatens to push the nuclear Doomsday Clock precariously close to Midnight.

7/ The Trump-ordered attack on Syria was illegal. It violated the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that the president not go to war without prior authorization from the U.S. Congress. It did not meet the United Nations Charter’s criterion for legitimate military action without prior approval from the UN Security Council. While U.S. imperial presidents and their generals have long and routinely violated national and international law (which the White House tends to ignore when the law is seen as inconvenient for the project of advancing and securing U.S. global dominance), U.S. criminality always merits mention and denunciation. There is no chance for a decent human future – perhaps for any human future at all – if the U.S. continues to brazenly defy basic national and global legal and civilizational rules.

8/ Top Democrats, leaders of a party that is no less (and possibly even more) imperialist than the Republicans, are deeply complicit in Trump’s criminal missile attack. Their regular depiction (all to accurate) of Trump as a venal narcissist and moronic clown has hardly stopped their Congresspersons from voting Boss Tweet and his generals the giant military budgets that pay for Superpower crimes like (to mention just one of many past and ongoing US-imperial transgressions) Trump’s recent missile attack. The dismal Dems and their many major media allies were mostly on board with Trump’s latest missile adventure. Beyond some standard and mild complaints about the president failing to get Congressional authorization, their major criticism of Trump’s action is that it is “underwhelming” and not part of a bigger and grander imperialist strategy. The Democrats’ and Democratic Party-allied media’s RussiaGate campaign have consistently goaded Trump into taking seemingly forceful action against the Russian-allied Syrian regime. “If you had done your job consistently,” the revolting right-wing liberal warmonger Howard Dean Tweeted to Trump on April 8 (just one day after the alleged Syrian chemical attack in Douma), “this would not have happened. Why are you such a wimp in the face of Assad and Putin?” New Cold War Democrats, the Mueller investigation, and the Russia-obsessed media constantly push Trump to prove that he will “stand up to the Russians.”  For her part, the disgraced neoliberal warmonger Hillary Clinton (the Democrats’ last presidential candidate) is on record arguing for a major U.S. military intervention in Syria, recklessly heedless of Russian sensibilities there as in Eastern Europe. Who knows how far down the path to World War III we would be with Mrs. Clinton in the White House?

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Paul Street’s latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014)

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