Sunday, April 09, 2017

Now That Trump Has Angered Russia By Attacking a Syrian Airbase, Will The U.S. Establishment Stop Painting Him as Putin's Puppet?

Maybe. They'll have to at least tone it down for awhile. Of course, they can always come up with some conspiracy theory. Perhaps it's a big trick that Putin and Trump secretly arranged. The notorious CIA psychopath James Jesus Angleton was able to explain away the Sino-Soviet split, which included gun battles on their border, as a ruse designed to trick the West. The capacities of the mind to deny even obvious realities is seemingly endless.

One thing that won't be changed is the attempt to connect Trump and those who aided his campaign or who work in his regime to Russia's "interference in our election" "attack on our democracy" "hacking our election" "undermining our freedom" -all that guff.

But maybe the Democrats and the media and the military and the secret police will allow themselves to breathe easier about Trump interfering with their new Cold War against Russia. Looks like relations aren't going to get better anytime soon.

Donald Trump, showing a decisiveness that Barack Hussein Obama often lacked, (except when targeting protesters, whistleblowers, and journalists for repression, and wedding parties and funerals for obliteration by drone), ordered a military response to the latest Assad regime atrocity, a sarin gas attack on defenseless Syrians. 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two U.S. Navy ships (destroyers) in the Mediterranean Sea against an Assad regime airbase in Syria which the U.S. believes was the base from which the aerial sarin gas attack was launched on civilians living in rebel areas. At least 87 people, including children, died in the Assad sarin gas attack, and hundreds were injured. The Pentagon claimed to have destroyed 20 military aircraft, fuel and arms depots, and radar. They avoided what they believed was a poison gas depot. [1] 

The U.S. gave the Russians advance notice so as to avoid Russian casualties, willingly compromising the effectiveness of the attack by giving the Assad regime time to move planes and clear out. The regime claimed a mere 7 deaths in the attack. And given what liars they are, even that might be an exaggeration.

The Assad regime and Putin and his minions responded angrily to the bombardment of the base. Putin himself denounced the U.S. destruction of one of Assad's terror bases as a violation of international law and of Syria's sovereignty. (I guess murdering large numbers of the population of the country one misrules and laying waste to its cities and towns is perfectly legal under "international law.") Note the equation of the Assad regime with "Syria." What is "Syria," anyway? Is it just a geographical entity? Is it equivalent to a regime? Or is it the people who live there?

If no one lived in that area of the earth, would it be "Syria"?

The Assad regime hasn't been a legitimate government for 6 years, ever since the overwhelming majority of the people tried to shrug off its malign rule. The Assad gang of criminals responded with a slogan they painted on walls: "Assad, or Syria Burns." They've been making good on that threat for 6 years now.

A Russian jackass on the BBC said the sarin attack was "a provocation," that is, Assad didn't do it. Rather, "terrorists" had a sarin factory which they somehow tricked Assad or the Russians into bombing, releasing gas. Oh, right. Sergei Markov of the United Russia Party and a pas member of the Duma (Russian legislature) came on the BBC to spew this offal. (Manufacturing sarin is a complex process. The people in the victimized area rely on generators for electricity- hardly conditions to support a modern factory. Furthermore, sarin is a binary weapon. Two chemicals are combined upon deployment to produce the poison. Bombing a sarin factory would cause the chemicals to burn, not properly combine.)

"It's just your propaganda," Markov retorted when confronted with the facts.  The BBC host pointed out that if you bomb the chemicals that combine to make sarin, it burns. "You try to protect clear propaganda slogan!" Markov indignantly snorted, sounding like a cartoon caricature of a Russian apparatchik. Then he presented a conspiracy theory that al-Nusra set the whole thing up to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Russia in "the fight against terrorism." Of course, the Russian definition of "terrorism" in the Syrian context is quite a bit more expansive than the U.S. one. The U.S. brands certain Islamo-jihadi groups as terrorist. Russia and the Assad regime brand all resistance to Assad's evil rule as terrorism. The U.S. wants to recruit Russia under its "fighting terrorism" banner to destroy designated groups in Syria (like ISIS and al-Nusra), while Russia and Assad want to recruit the U.S. under its banner to support Assad and crush the rebellion against him, also in the name of "fighting terrorism."

What's especially cynical on the part of Assad and his patrons is that Assad deliberately treated ISIS and its ilk with benign neglect to allow it build up its strength. He did this to "prove" his narrative that he was "fighting terrorism," all the while directing his firepower at the non-jihadi rebel grouplets. That of course allowed ISIS to grow in strength and range in Syria.

Trump arguably inadvertently "caused" Assad to use sarin by previously making it clear that he had no interest in overthrowing Assad, only in obliterating ISIS. If so, Assad must have forgotten that Trump is mercurial and unpredictable. Which in this case turned out to be a good thing.

Unless, that is,  you're okay with people being mutilated and slaughtered by an evil regime. Here's the odd contradiction about leftists who are strongly allergic to any use of U.S. power. They decry the human suffering, wring their hands, demand "peace," which apparently is to be obtained by magic, since it is obvious that there is no way to negotiate a satisfactory resolution with a sadistic regime like Assad's, no more than World War II could have been settled by negotiation- but when the U.S., after 6 years of diffidence and fecklessness and half-assed measures, finally does something that will save some lives -one airbase and its armada of planes out of action [2]- they're all bent out of shape that the U.S. "bombed Syria," as they put it, misleadingly. Yes, the military target was indeed inside Syria. "Bombing Syria" is grossly hyperbolic and deliberately inflammatory, as if the entire country is under U.S. bombardment. I'll tell you who is "bombing Syria;" Assad and Russia are. [3]

I suppose people like Seymour Hersh will now swing into action to "prove" that yes indeed, it was rebel sarin. Same as he did after the infamous chemical attack that crossed Obama's "red line." Back then Hersh wrote an unconvincing article whose content was about 80% derived from a single "intelligence source." (That was the extent of the identification.) My Lai massacre story fame or not, No Sale, Buddy. [4]

But there is valid criticism of Trump that is mostly from leftists. He should stop trying to blacklist Syrian refugees, and fund humanitarian aid. 

Trump justified his decision in terms of U.S. "national security" and to discourage use of chemical weapons. Syria is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Treaty. I don't know whether that treaty bars use of chemical weaponry against one's own populace, but it should. And Trump was practically obligated to invoke "national security" rationales. He beats the America First (American selfishness) drum loudly. And the dominant ideology of U.S. power is "national security." And the type of people he most appeals to don't think the U.S. should "be the world's policeman." If he'd just used humanitarian justification, a thousand voices would have demanded to know why he doesn't use U.S. power in every place on earth there is human suffering.

There's been plenty of asinine speculation in the media as to his motives. He's "trying to create a distraction" is number one on this list of psycho-political speculations. The most obvious motive is ignored- the one that's plainly visible. He said he watched news of the victims' suffering, and was upset that children were painfully killed. He has children, he experienced them as defenseless youngsters. Could it be his feelings are genuine? Maybe he's human. Being a narcissist and egomaniac and a braggart doesn't rule out having human emotions. And Trump strikes me as very emotional, and obviously he reacts to what he sees on television. Maybe he really wanted to hit Assad for what he did. I know I would.

And sure, if the U.S. retaliates for killing civilians with sarin, why not for killing them with barrel bombs, or chlorine, or artillery shells, etc.? Personally, I wish the U.S. had knocked out Assad's air power the first year of the rebellion. Then the people of Syria would have had a fighting chance. As it is, one of Obama's excuses for standing down was that jihadists would take over. Which, in a lovely self-fulfilling prophecy, they have to some degree, at least becoming prominent among those fighting Assad.

If there were an "international community" worthy of the name, a mighty multinational army would have invaded Syria long ago and dragged Assad and his hench to The Hague in chains for trial. (Unfortunately the International Criminal Court has no death penalty. It surely needs one. This might annoy progressives, but people who murder vast numbers of people surely should forfeit their own lives. Not because "we're killing people to prove killing people is wrong." Because they have no respect for the lives of others and thus don't deserve to live. And in the case of politicians and despots, a death penalty would definitely have some deterrent effect.

The bottom line- Donald Trump is not all bad. Mostly bad, but not entirely. Too bad knee-jerk anti-Trump partisans and brain-dead "peace activist" ideologues can't see that.

1] Sarin "gas" and nerve "gas" are actually misnomers. These nerve agents are liquids. Sarin is a binary weapon- that is, it consists of two chemicals which when combined creates the nerve poison. It gets dispersed as liquid droplets, which when they land on exposed skin or are inhaled, cause neurons to fire uncontrollably. A tiny amount is usually fatal. There are antidotes but they must be administered quickly. U.S. soldiers typically are given injectors with the antidote.

Sarin and the other nerve poisons were invented by German scientists working for the Third Reich in World War II. They were never used in combat. Speculation is that Hitler decided against their use because he had been gassed with mustard gas and was temporarily blinded on the Western front during World War I, in which he fought as a corporal. (A highly decorated one, having received Germany's highest medal, the Iron Cross, which was usually reserved for officer.)

2]  However Mara Liasson on NPR the morning of April 8 says planes are still flying out of the bombed airfield. Sounds improbable so soon after hits from 59 missiles aimed at fuel and munitions depots. By April 9th other media reported the same. Liasson also opined of Trump: "Is he an isolationist? Is he an interventionist? That just isn't clear right now."

Allow me to clarify, Mara: he's an improvisationalist.

3]  See, for example, this hysterical and just plain false headline from Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! program:

Now, there are two basic ways to define "World" in this context: governments of nation-states, or the people of the world. A number of governments- U.S. allies like Britain, Germany, France, and Israel- have come out in support of Trump's action. Russia and Syria naturally condemn it. As for the world's people, I suspect most would be more shocked by the murder of children by chemical attack than by the wholly justified retaliation for that crime, assuming they have the information.

Also note the parroting of the Russian propaganda line about "violating international law." Could be, in some technical sense. But is that the most important aspect of things? As a way to frame the issue, it buries the atrocious behavior of Assad and his foreign backers.

4]  There's plenty of evidence this time around. Turkish strongman Erdogan sent Turkish TV crews to the site of the sarin attack to provide footage of the victims. Doctors confirmed the symptoms of sarin poisoning. Journalist Kareem Shaheem visited the abandoned warehouse and grain silo that Russia claims stores rebel sarin. He reports there was nothing there. Within minutes of the  sarin attack the regime immediately bombed the medical clinics treating the survivors. This clearly was a pre-planned chemical attack by the Assad regime. (NPR Weekend Edition the morning of April 9.) All this coverage has made it harder for the Russo-Assad lie to fly.

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