Catastrophe truly has bipartisan roots
Donald Trump’s strike against Syria was a symbolic and showy display amidst the constant barrage of criticism his administration has received for trying to meet Russia halfway. But for the neo-cons it was a slam dunk. From Lindsay Graham to Nikki Haley, the proponents of regime change in Syria had a jubilee.
And of course that was what the alleged outrage over Trump campaign officials was all about, with their supposed dealings with Vladimir Putin. It was a successful attempt to derail any rapprochement between the United States and Russia. Like the U-2 imbroglio on May 1960, the criticism of Trump’s Russia ties placed any policy shift into the crosshairs. Miraculously the investigation of these so-called collusions stopped — mission accomplished.
Certainly no president took the bait as quickly or willingly as Trump. He gladly took the easy way out and acted tough in the telegenic way weak leaders do. Fleets to North Korea, a pin-prick strike on an airbase that is up and running in less than 24 hours — showy heroics. But its chief impact is to whet the neos’ appetite for more intervention. Trump is also seen as subject to pressure — after tasting political blood the inverventionists will not stop until they get their war.
Incredibly, Trump has no historical ballast. Richard Nixon held back after North Korea shot down a spy plane killing 31 in March 1969. Trump’s strike is more in line with Gerald Ford’s feckless attack on the Khmer Rouge, to rescue the Mayaquez at a heavy cost in men and material. No imagination, only reaction in the face of Congressional extortion on the Russian issue.
Since the election, the National Security apparatus, the FBI, CIA and their allies in the media have pushed the McCain/Graham line on foreign affairs. After General Mike Flynn resigned they pressed and pressed, eager to remind Trump who really rules Washington. Amazingly, Democrats, who ought to know better, cheered the security services as a possible antidote to an election result they did not prefer. Suddenly the hound dogs were encouraged to bay — democracy be damned.
Sen. Rand Paul is absolutely correct in decrying the willy-nilly use of force. Even since general congressional resolutions were used in a substitution for a declaration of war, debate has been minimal. Now, the sentimental goo of convenient outrage has been used to advance American adventurism. Forget Mosul or Yemen, it is all about Bashar al Assad.
It seems Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy triumphed after all. Haley resembles Samantha Powers in the UN — blathering on in a style worthy of an advanced eighth-grader. Now every justification of force is to be backed up by a plethora of pictures and a pretext established. And if the U.S. gets bogged down in yet another Middle East conflict, everyone in their comfy think tanks can congratulate themselves over the graves of someone else’s son. Truly, catastrophe has bipartisan roots.
Whether you call it nationalism or American exceptionalism, both ideas presuppose supremacy. Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq have been placed on the Golgotha of permanent conflict. For an American version of perfection, they suffer. Thank God nobody tried to prolong our own Civil War.