Donald Trump’s Syria Problem

Donald Trump responded to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by lobbing some missiles at the Syrian airbase from which the gas attack was allegedly launched. Some have described it as a fireworks display intended more as a message than a serious military strike, but that fireworks display was quickly rivaled by the fireworks that erupted on social media among Trump supporters following the strike. Opinions were decidedly mixed between those who enthusiastically supported the strike and those who saw it as a betrayal of Trump’s promise for a more America first foreign policy with very little middle ground in between.

Many of Trump’s more “regular” Republican supporters saw the strike as evidence that a “new sheriff is in town.” In their minds Trump demonstrated with the airstrike that he will not be pushed around unlike President Obama who they perceived as “weak” on foreign policy. On the other hand, many of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters were extremely disappointed with Trump’s decision and were not shy about saying so. For example, Anne Coulter, who was an early and enthusiastic supporter of Trump, expressed her dismay in no uncertain terms. Paul Joseph Watson of InfoWars announced that he was now off the Trump Train.

So what explains this dichotomy of opinions? As I have explained elsewhere (see here and here), while Trump campaigned on a foreign policy agenda that was atypical for a Republican, especially if you were sensitive to nuance, the majority of rank and file Republican voters remain at least somewhat hawkish on foreign policy. While the average GOP voters is not nearly as Wilsonian as are the neocon talking heads that are so often trotted out to speak on foreign policy for Republicans and “conservatives,” they still reflexively believe that the U.S. should have an outsized role on the world stage such that “punishing dictators” is the purview of a U.S. President and the U.S. military. Decades of catechization on the matter are hard to overcome overnight. What Trump’s campaign demonstrated is that these same hawkish voters will tolerate and even applaud an America first foreign policy message that acknowledges the mistakes of the past such as Iraq, but it would be a mistake to assume that they took Trump’s invocation of America first as a wholesale change in direction.

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The Bombing of Syria Was Not 3D Chess

This article was originally published at Lew Rockwell on 14 April 17.

During the campaign, a lot of enthusiastic Donald Trump supporters would claim, when the wisdom of his tactics was questioned, that Trump was playing 3D chess while Hillary Clinton and her sycophants in the mainstream media were playing 2D chess or even checkers. While I never doubted Trump’s powers of persuasion, I generally avoided the 3D chess claim, because I was, quite frankly, torn between whether he was a genius who was several steps ahead of the game or whether he was just the right guy at the right time who was making it up as he went along. I won’t swear that I never made the 3D chess claim in some moment of enthusiasm, lest someone dig it up, but I was never sold on the idea that that is what we were witnessing. My hunch was always that he was the right man at the right time who was flying by the seat of his pants and succeeding by the sheer force of his personality.

The problem with the 3D chess claim is that, like a conspiracy theory, it is difficult to falsify. The claim that Trump has made a misstep can always be chalked up to us not really understanding the depths of his machinations. This framework can potentially paper over and serve as a justification for actual missteps, the same way evidence of the non-existence of a particular conspiracy serves as more confirmation of its existence in the minds of certain individuals.

Trump’s decision to launch missiles at Syria in response to very questionable reports that the Assad regime used chemical weapons has caused great consternation among some of Trump’s previously most supportive base. For many of Trump’s most intense base, his promise of a more “America first” foreign policy that eschews regime change and pledges less international meddling was one of the, if not the, primary reason they supported him and viewed him as a genuine alternative to the status quo.

Read more at Lew Rockwell…

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Georgia Republican Delegation Responds to Airstrikes on Syria

We could do this for any state, but here are reactions from Georgia’s two Republican Senators and four Georgia Republican Congressmen. I picked Georgia because that’s where I’m from, and because I just stumbled on this article at a site I sometimes visit that focuses on Georgia politics. Depressingly, the responses are all supportive.

It is disappointing and telling that not a single one questioned whether or not the gas attack was a false flag and whether Assad was really behind it. Why do they believe Assad was behind it? Because the always reliable MSM tells them so? Because our intelligence agencies, who were openly engaged in a soft coup attempt against President Trump, tell them so?

And even if we knew with 100% certainty that Assad did it, it is the U.S.’s business to “punish” that why? Are we the world’s daddy? Where is that in the Constitution?

Have Republican learned nothing on the foreign policy issue? Bombing Syria is not the America first foreign policy I was promised and voted for.

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Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) on Syria Strikes

Sorry this is a little delinquent, but we are rounding things up on the Syria issue from around the net. This is Jones’ official statement via Antiwar.com. Jones is one of the few good’uns in Congress.

“Regardless of the circumstances, no American president has the constitutional right to commit acts of war against a sovereign nation without approval from Congress,” said Congressman Jones. “As clearly stated in the Constitution, Congress has the sole power to declare war. This is a dangerous precedent for the president to set for the new administration.”

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Some Suggested Reads Regarding Syria

Justin Raimondo is the go to source when it comes to matters like this. If you don’t check out Antiwar.com and follow Raimondo’s Twitter feed regularly, you should.

Here he suggests that Trump was motivated to pivot on Syria to help call off the dogs at home regarding Russia. I’m personally torn between whether this is a genuine pivot and something Trump actually supports, or if they got to him. I lean toward the latter because it is so contrary to everything he was saying in the campaign and before. Check out his now deleted Tweets on the matter in 2013.

Here and here Raimondo discusses how an element of Trump’s base is in revolt over Syria, and how, conversely, the MSM enthusiastically supports his bombing of Syria. You gotta love that – “liberals” for war.

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Trump’s Military Strikes in Syria Are Reckless and Short-Sighted

By Tulsi Gabbard

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement today (4/6/17) after the U.S. launched military strikes on Syrian government targets:

“It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government. This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a possible nuclear war between the United States and Russia.

“This Administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning. If President Assad is indeed guilty of this horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians, I will be the first to call for his prosecution and execution by the International Criminal Court. However, because of our attack on Syria, this investigation may now not even be possible. And without such evidence, a successful prosecution will be much harder.”

Via Antiwar.com

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We’re Asking the Wrong Questions About Syria

By Thomas Knapp

As I write this, two key questions remain unanswered, and a third mostly unasked, about a deadly daybreak  attack on Khan Sheikhoun, a northwest Syrian city of (pre-war) 50,000. Hundreds were wounded and as many as 100 killed, apparently chemical weaponry (Turkey’s health ministry believes the agent in question was the nerve gas sarin), on the morning of April 4.

The two most obvious questions are who did this, and why?

The US government (and unfortunately most American media, acting as stenographers rather than journalists as is too often the case in matters of war and foreign policy) have settled on the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as the culprit. That claim seems very questionable, if for no other reason than that there’s no plausible “why” attached to it.

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