Where There’s Smoke, There’s “Fire Ze Missiles”
Window of Opportunity
By now, everyone and their dog is aware that last night, Donald Trump ordered a missile strike against Syria. We apparently targeted an airfield that had some connection to the recent chemical attacks against civilians that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out. This action has seemingly satisfied (at least for now) the American desire to do something about the humanitarian apocalypse that is Syria.
But while the mainstream media was tripping over itself to praise the awe and beauty of a Tomahawk missile strike, some were asking the question, “Why now?” Why has Donald Trump suddenly decided that now is the time to intervene?
The easy answer is that he saw a picture of gassed Syrian babies and decided that “a line had been crossed”. I would caution my readers to not be fooled by such reasoning, but instead to look at the broader context.
Consider all of the following:
- Trump’s poll numbers have been pretty damn bad recently. He had an approval rating of just 35% as recently as March 28th- his lowest ever.
- The Russia collusion story just won’t die- in fact, it continually gets worse for him. Remember that Devin Nunes, who was a member of Trump’s transition team, recently stepped down from leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s meddling because he’s under investigation for himself leaking classified information. This comes after he said he wouldn’t step down, and as more and more Trump associates get caught up in the House/Senate probes.
- Trump had just suffered a one-two punch of defeat: the very public defeat of the AHCA, and as recently as yesterday afternoon, talks to help the Republicans reconcile their differences fell apart again.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting Trump in Mar-a-Lago yesterday.
So, we have a man obsessed with his ability to project an image of strength, who has been projecting nothing but incompetence and weakness for weeks, meeting with the leader of one of the most powerful military and economic forces on Earth- who is one of our greatest economic rivals. What is a man to do?
Enter the Syrian chemical weapons attack.
There Is No Pivot
Trump presented his missile strike as something that had to be done after he saw pictures of Syrian children suffering from being gassed. He said,
“It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal — people were shocked to hear what gas it was. That crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines.”
He also said this.
One man said he lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, where Mr Trump has a home, and there were plans to relocate Syrian refugee families there.
He asked Mr Trump if he could “look children aged five, eight, ten, in the face and tell them they can’t go to school here”.
Mr Trump did not hesitate and said he could, which brought applause from the crowd. He said: “I can look in their faces and say ‘You can’t come’. I’ll look them in the face.”
How many times has the mainstream media fallen for this, by this point? How many times have they believed that Trump would “pivot” from his usual stance of being a blustering Luddite and into a more dignified role befitting a President? First it was after the Republican Primary, then it was after their Convention… then it was during the debates with Clinton that he would surely start acting like an adult. More recently, Van Jones became so overwhelmed with Trump’s address to Congress that he forgot about all previous examples of the Trump Pivot failing to materialize. (He’s been suspiciously quiet on the topic since then).
There’s no pivot, guys. Sorry to spoil the ending, but Trump isn’t suddenly Presidential because he shot off a few missiles.
To put it bluntly- this whole exercise is a distraction.
With stories like this threatening to continue to de-legitimization of the his Presidency, Trump took the fastest, flashiest way out to pull attention away from those scandals and put it onto how he’s (apparently) the “new sheriff in town”. But Bahsar al-Assad is still in power, and barring a dramatic departure from the UN Security Council’s previous stance on his rule, he will stay in power. He will continue to slaughter his own people, with or without the use of chemical weapons- is it somehow OK if he engages in this abomination through conventional means?
Where was Trump’s concern for the 55,000 Syrian children who’d been killed in this conflict before the gas attacks? He tried to ban all Syrians from seeking refuge in our country. Twice. He campaigned on an uncaring and non-interventionist stance, and as a person he has never before seemed to care about anyone but himself; why is he so moved now?
So I repeat myself- he “cares” now because the missile strike is a politically expedient way to take some heat off of himself and his people for a few days.
It thus falls to us, the People, the Resistance, to tell our Senators and Congresspeople in no uncertain terms to stay on target, to remain focused on the ever-growing evidence that our President is potentially a Russian stooge and not to get distracted by the strike last night. It falls to us to flood our media companies with calls to stop fawning all over him when he does something like this, to stop presenting a missile strike or any act of war as something beautiful and good.
It falls to us to keep our focus through this latest distraction and hold Trump accountable for the things he’s actually done, and not for the explosive display he’s trying to pull our attention away with.