Friday, April 7, 2017

Trump's Cruise Missile Assault On Syria - A Dangerous PR Move To Boost His Poll Numbers

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"It is pretty amazing how quickly the media and suck-up politicians can transform a mendacious, hypocritical, amateurish, ignorant, incoherent, bigoted buffoon who is way, way out of his depth into a man of courage, which is what they did to President Donald Trump this past weekend. All it takes is some saber rattling and launching a few dozen missiles" - Neal Gabler, 'How Trump Was Able To Sucker The World On Syria',

Okay, let's cut the crap. Raise your hands or say 'aye, aye' all those who really, seriously believe Trump - the twitchy, entitled, vindictive, self-absorbed asshole really was touched by screen images of gasping kids to launch that cruise missile attack yesterday?  Are we really to believe a guy that goes hunting for reasons for payback, and is so emotionally needy, reactive and thin-skinned he's admitted being outraged by Obama's press club roasting of him years ago, is temperate enough to launch a reasonable response to a crisis? Give me a freakin' break. Contrary to Fran Townsend's bollocks on CBS this morning about Trump "serving the national and allies' interests", the only interests Trump served were his own: to boost his deplorable job approval poll rating now near 39% and distract the media from the Russian-Trump campaign probes. Indeed, it makes Trump appear as if he's really in opposition to Putin. How good does that cognitively dissonant PR get when Comey and the FBI are breathing down your neck??

Think I'm wrong? Watch for Trump's  Gallup and Real Clear Politics job approval numbers to soar to 50% within days making him semi- "presidential" and "Commander- in -chief"  while all talk of the Russian -Trumpie connections vanish from the media screen.  Let's also bear in mind that Trump not only has moved 180 degrees from his position four years ago, essentially acting on instinct to upend his own foreign policy, but is playing a dangerous, high stakes game of 'chicken' and  risking retribution by the Russians.  Indeed, the Kremlin now has suspended the  2015 memorandum of understanding  agreement that at least reasonably assured no accidental contact between U.S. and Russian aircraft.

As it is, according to subsequent reports  (from a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman) in the aftermath,  the Russians lost six MIG-23 fighter jets under repair along with a radar station. Any more reckless attacks such as this one and we may not be so lucky to escape retaliation.

For those who are unaware and so we are on the same page in making comparisons, 'Alas, Babylon'  is a terrifying  1959 novel of thermonuclear war by author Pat Frank. It describes in horrendous detail the aftermath of a thermonuclear exchange between Russia and the U.S. following an accidental U.S. air strike on Latakia - the Russian Naval base in Syria, with dozens of Russian troops killed.

In the specific critical scene, after U.S. planes had been involved in several close passes with Russian MIGs, an overly  aggressive American pilot believed he could ace a missile hit before the Russian MIG returned to base.  In a hyped up frenzy he fires his rocket but it goes awry hitting the Russian naval base and killing dozens. The Russians keep quiet about it until some days later when they know American defenses would be at their most relaxed - then let loose with hundreds of ICBMs.

Most of the U.S. ends up as radioactive debris and ash except for a small area in northern Florida, centered on a hamlet called Fort Repose. Their denizens now aware they will be in a fight for survival as all the usual services, including electric power, water and grocery stores soon cease to exist. If you think the battles between the human enclaves in the apocalyptic world of  'The Walking Dead' are fierce, check out Frank's novel.

All of the  'Alas,  Babylon' themes surfaced last night with the Tomahawk cruise missile strike - 59 fired in all. They were directed at the al-Shayrat airbase close to Homs, from where the U.S. Command said this week’s sarin nerve gas attack on Khan Sheikhun was launched.  The Pentagon said 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from warships USS Ross and Porter in the eastern Mediterranean on Thursday at 8.45ET (Friday 3.45am Syria).

Trump claimed the strike was a direct response to the chemical weapons attack that killed more than 70 people and he was "touched" by the TV images of innocent kids foaming at the mouth and dying grotesquely.  According to The Financial Times he blabbed:

"No child of God should ever suffer such horror,"

Does anyone of any sentience really believe this consummate,  manipulating liar? Really?   Why? Especially as he's demonstrated no ability to discern reality from fiction and promotes fake news as a habit.  Add in the fact he's foregone any agency or ownership for his actions (and tweets)  and you have a sock puppet sociopath who will only do what advances his own interests, or entitled ego. So given that,  do you seriously believe he could be touched by anything other than losing profits from his 700 -odd Trump businesses and fronts worldwide?   Or that he'd remotely recognize a child "suffering in horror"? Those are words and for Trump words are cheap. He only uses them to lie to advance his deranged agenda. No one should take anything he says or tweets at face value.  His words of fake compassion for the Syrians ought to set off alarm bells among the fully conscious given he literally begged Obama in multiple tweets from 2013 not to attack the Assad over a much deadlier nerve agent attack that killed 1400.  Trump repeatedly advocated doing “nothing” in Syria, insisting it was not America’s “problem.” 

In one tweet dated Sept. 5, 2013, for example, Trump wrote:

The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria,fix U.S.A.

In more than a dozen messages on Twitter in 2013 and 2014, Trump repeated this advice, emphatically stating that “Syria is NOT our problem,” appealing directly to Mr. Obama to “not attack Syria” as “there is no upside and tremendous downside” and telling him to “stay out of Syria.”

Indeed, Trump over the past two years has shrugged at calls to use force against Bashar al- Assad’s government and endorsed Russia’s support of the Syrian leader.  Trump said in a September 2015 interview with CNN :

You have Russia that’s now there. Russia’s on the side of Assad, and Russia wants to get rid of ISIS as much as we do, if not more, because they don’t want them coming into Russia. Let Syria and ISIS fight. Why do we care?”

Then  in a May 2016 interview on MSNBC, Trump said the United States had “bigger problems than Assad.” He added, “I would have stayed out of Syria and wouldn’t have fought so much for Assad, or against Assad.” So emphatic was Trump’s stance on Syria that he distanced himself from the stance of his  own running mate,  as well as Dem opponent, Hillary Clinton - who just about everyone worried would start an actual war with Russia over establishing "no fly" zones in Syria.

So how and why did Trump suddenly turn into the "hero" of the free world and defender of Syrian kids?  Well, by playing the typical Trump game of pretending to be a real president when he knows nothing of actual governance. Hell, this is the same turkey who went to the halls of congress to try to get his AHCA through with Paul Ryan when all the congress critters discovered he didn't know jack shit about the details.  This is a guy who doesn't read, he only watches TV and tweets. You think he really knows squat about a rational response to what's happening in Syria?

Nor should anyone be soothed by the Pentagon's assurances that the Russians had been informed in advance of the strike through military channels. As we learned during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, many communications snafus can occur and one can't always assume a warning or message has been received. Or interpreted properly. Let's invoke here the 'fog of war' (or pre-war) as Robert McNamara so astutely described in his compelling documentary by the same title.

The short and blunt take on Trump's action is that his job approval ratings have currently been in the tank (35- 39%)  and he needed a big move - something beyond tweets-  to change the game. This was especially given the WSJ's Dan Henninger wrote yesterday they were bringing him down. In Henninger's words: "Tweets brought him up and  tweets are bringing him down".   Trump's proverbial "gut" did react at the stark images of the Syrian kids gasping for breath, eyes wide open and foaming at the mouth from the sarin attack.    And his "gut" told him: 'Don't tweet! Show who's the boss! Outdo that punk Obama!'  Thus, the horrific gas attack provided the perfect excuse for Trump to use the military "crisis" option to his advantage - ostensibly out of the goodness of his heart. I don't buy it and no one else should.

And besides, launching unprovoked attacks for whatever reason, on a sovereign state with powerful, nuclear-armed allies, is never a smart way to go. It is more the tradecraft of a freelancing, unhinged psycho more committed to his ego than any national welfare or security,

As more than one military expert noted last night, the Russian troops are inextricably embedded with the Syrian regime's own troops, for example at airbases like al-Shayrat . Contrary to some pundits' (e.g. Nicholas Kristof's) take that there is "little risk of the Russians reacting" - I think there is an enormous risk, especially if a U.S.  cruise missile were to take out planes and Russian troops.  This is a game Trump shouldn't be playing merely for the sake of  posturing to show he's a big, tough hombre and acting "presidential" to boost ratings.

It begs the question of why take such a risk, and the only logical answer is the potential for an approval ratings boost and to take the attention off the investigations into the Trump campaign-Russia connections .  This is the only explanation that makes sense given how virulently Trump disparaged Hillary's campaign stances on Syria - with  Trump saying numerous times that her policies wouldlead to World War III.”

Interesting now that Trump himself might have us on the verge of World War III.  And make no mistake that if this one is triggered it will make the scenes in 'Alas Babylon' look like a nursery tale. Because at that time - in the novel - both combatant nations had perhaps 300 ICBMS in total. Today, as per The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the U.S. already has just under 5,000 nuclear warheads in its active arsenal and more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads. This is more than enough to turn the world to ash about six times over.

Russia, according to the same strategic analysts, "has 400 more nuclear warheads than the U.S. does",   In other words, both sides now have enough nuclear weapons to reduce the world to ash more than twelve times over.

Think about all that before you deliriously cheer Trump's cruise missile attacks.  No one is saying Assad ought to get away with what he did but there were other sanctions options on the table and as one percipient commentator put it: "Why didn't we step in when thousands more were being killed by barrel bombs?"  Good question! The answer is that Trump's poll ratings weren't as low as they are now, nor was the investigatory noose tightening as it currently is.

Trump is not some damned "savior" or noble statesman acting on behalf of the poor, downtrodden kids in Syria. He's as much of an entitled asshole, and thin-skinned, vindictive psychopath as he always has been. His response to the sarin attack wasn't thought out or reflective because that is not his nature. It was driven by pure, egoistic, self-preservation like his tweets. Except in this case the actions are far more dangerous for us all than being hammered or lied about in a tweet.

The most salient clue that this whole action was merely a charade to serve Trump's interests and ego?  The fact that while he seems to sympathize with those gassed Syrian kids in the FOX TV images, he still refuses to allow them to enter the U.S. with their families. This guy is a damned hypocrite and presidential poseur, nothing more.

Let's hope we all get through this moment of Trumpian arrogance and ego manifestation without real blowback.

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Darrin Rychlak said...

This entire Russia-Trump deal will fall through and it is not b/c Trump is innocent. Trump was being ‘buzzed.’ This is how the people who own this country informed Trump that they, not him, run things. JFK got some free bullets to the head and Trump got threats of removal and execution. We are becoming a kinder nation…at least the owners are.

That’s why Trump did a 180 on his view that the US should not attack Syria or at least get Congressional Authorization to do so. He did neither and yet the missiles flew. That saved his presidency and affirmed the modern pecking order of power. The moneyed elite defense industrial complex runs the show and the presidency is as ceremonial a position as the host of the Price is Right.

Copernicus said...

That is certainly one possibility, and the MIC is very real. However, I still lean to the view this was all Trump, on Trump, by Trump - a reactive strike by impulse, instinct and emotion. And, btw, he's done 180s many times - that's his nature, impulsive and changing positions on a dime. Like the Mexican border wall that was to be paid for by Mexico and will now be paid for by U.S. citizens after import duties are likely applied. That Trump's impulsive action coincides with what the MIC would have demanded a putative CIC to do may merely be a coincidence - a "happy" one for the MIC. ("Jeez, we didn't even have to lift a finger this time!")