This is not good.
One of the many reasons I voted for Trump was because he saw the folly of Neoconservatism and the folly of endless war. Running in a Republican primary, he did the unthinkable and called out the last Republican president (George W Bush) for removing Saddam Hussein. If nothing else, he saw that the instability that was unleashed by Saddam’s removal led to the destabilization of Europe.
And now –this.
I’m hoping (praying actually, and fervently) that yesterday’s Tomahawk missile launch was a “one-off” and that there was no collateral damage. Or that there will be no further such actions (to say nothing of military escalation on our part). I especially hope that no Russians military assets were harmed. According to reliable sources, the “deconfliction protocols” that the US and Russia have established to avert accidental maneuvers worked splendidly. The US told the Russians via a secure line to “get out of the way” and they did.
It’s possible that this was all part of a grand scheme worked out ahead of time with Putin. I could see a scenario in which the US is drawn in to Syria and a condominium of sorts is worked out with Moscow. This is not far-fetched. One of the players in this region is Iran and even though the Sunni world despises the Persians and wants nothing more than to remove their influence from Syria and Lebanon, the fact remains that the US worked out a treaty with Iran that was very favorable to Tehran. This was astounding to the Arabs and the Israelis and most everybody else for that matter. Thanks to Russia, Tehran is the other native regional hegemon in that area of the world (the other being Israel).
Under this scenario, Damascus would be ruled by Assad (or his successor) with Russia as its guarantor while the western half of the country is ruled by Assad’s rivals (with America being the guarantor). Under this scenario, the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees currently living elsewhere could be repatriated. This would solve the extreme vetting and so-called Muslim ban that Trump wants in place for the US in order to solve the refugee influx.
Essentially, what we are talking about is kabuki theater on a grand scale. Just like the “news” that Steve Bannon’s star was falling just as Jared Kushner’s was rising. Bannon we are told was “kicked off” the National Security Council the other day. Supposedly, it was under Kushner’s doleful influence that Trump green-lighted the Tomahawk strike. What is not reported is that Bannon showed up for a meeting of this Council yesterday.
Still, I am in no way happy. If I had wanted to vote for a warmonger, I would have voted for Hillary Clinton. I expected better from Trump. My guess (hope, actually) is that he is not a militarist but a businessman at heart and that he resisted the blandishments of the Deep State as long as he could. If this is correct, then he understands fundamentally that the Deep State will always find a way to bounce back one way or the other.
Still, the Deep State is not invulnerable; they have to make do with exterior circumstances, not all of which are under their control. Trump’s win was the ultimate wild card and on his watch, they’ll have to take his unpredictability into consideration.
Trump realizes this of course; he also realizes that they can take him out if the conditions are right. It’s somewhat of a Mexican Standoff. Trump is better than Hillary in this regard (or McCain, Romney, Rubio, or Cruz). I think of this as the Reluctant Surgeon scenario, with Trump being the Surgeon, rather than the Savage Butcher one (insert Dem/Rep Warmonger here).
To be sure, there are domestic benefits to Trump’s move. Let’s just go ahead and consult Macchiavelli here. For one thing, he has immediately pacified the Neocon/Neolib wing of the Establishment. I imagine he’ll get repeal of Obamacare and tax cuts through the Congress in fairly short order. It goes without saying that Neil Gorsuch will be voted onto the Supreme Court later today. (I was going to wright about Gorsuch and the suicidally stupid actions of the Democrats in the Senate but that’s been put aside for now.) And of course the nonsense of Russian collusion will fritter away in no time. And this is especially delicious: while the Russian Hacking Narrative is blown away to Trump’s benefit, the Susan Rice/Obamagate Narrative continues to metastasize (to the Dem’s detriment).
Those are the political upsides and they will redound to Trump’s benefit. Other metrics, not related to Syria likewise are helping Trump. Illegal immigration is down. Some sanctuary cities are caving. Manufacturing jobs are rebounding as are home sales. Together with actions in Syria, his popularity will skyrocket. But there is danger: a significant percentage of his base voted for him precisely because he spoke loudly and forcefully against foreign intervention. He can’t afford to alienate them and if yesterday’s action was a harbinger of things to come, he’ll lose them permanently. That is a significant chunk of his coalition that he can’t afford to lose.
As for myself, I voted for Trump for a host of reasons. Non-interventionism was only one of them. I’ll continue to support him fully realizing that politics is a messy business and that sometimes you have to make sacrifices on principle for the greater good. For me, the greater good is securing America’s borders, protecting our Second Amendment rights, negotiating better trade deals, improving the economy, selecting solid judges to the various Circuits and the Supreme Court and cutting taxes. These are not small things. If Trump succeeds in these other venues, which is nothing short than the restoration of American sovereignty, then the defenestration of Assad is a small (albeit regrettable) price to pay.
Still, I’m not happy by this latest intervention. Not in the least. It’s not a good thing and we better hope that the situation in Syria calms down real soon. Otherwise the refugee crisis could escalate and then Trump will be right where Obama was. That’s just on the refugee side of things. If he’s drawn into a broader war, he runs the very real risk of breaking his Administration on the very same shoals that destroyed Bush the Younger’s.
I hope he’s thought this through.