"Israel, much like Washington and America’s mass media, has made common cause with Islamicist rebels who seek the overthrow of Assad, who offers sovereign and remarkably secular leadership for the Syrian people."
The author is the best-known figure in the Alt-Right. You can follow him on Twitter.
American missiles have struck Damascus. Less than a year into his administration, President Donald Trump has fallen into the same trap as his predecessors, allowing the U.S. to become entangled in a bloody civil war in the Middle East. Due to Russia’s presence and interest in the region, this conflict threatens to drag America into a wider conflagration, the consequences of which are too terrible to imagine.
This turn of events is especially shocking given Trump’s background. He won the presidency by promising a new start in American foreign policy. He denounced the failed strategies and objectives of his predecessors—both “humanitarian interventionists” and neoconservatives alike. He vowed to put American interests first. But instead, little over a year into his administration, he has given us more of the same.
In examining the sitatuion in Syria, some important things should not be forgotten. We are by no means certain that chemical weapons were actually used, or that Assad used them. And even if the accusations were proven true, how would they justify U.S. involvement?
And as many commentators—Tucker Carlson, most notably—have pointed out, chemical attacks simply make no sense for Assad as a rational actor. Chemical weapons are sensational. And they are the best way—short of nuclear weapons—to trigger an international response. Why would Assad, who is winning the civil war, squander his strategic advantage?
Perhaps most glaring of all, Trump’s attacks on Damascus occurred just hours before the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was scheduled to inspect the event in Douma. No doubt, the work of this group will be overlooked or minimized as of merely academic concern.
But all of this is simply begging the real question. Even if it could be definitely proved that Assad used chemical weapons, what interest does the United States have in attacking Syria? Pitiable and morally appalling things are happening all over the world. Indeed, the U.S. bears responsibility for many of these, an example being Saudi Arabia’s brutal war on Yemen, which can only proceed with Washington’s moral and logistical backing.
Again, the great potential of Trump was that he would represent, not the competent management of the U.S. empire, but a new beginning. Throughout his campaign, he promised to find ways for Washington to collaborate, in good-faith, with Russia and Syria (and not demonize them). And he was elected on promises to focus on America’s real foreign-policy crisis—mass immigration from the Third World.
On the morning of April 14, Trump tweeted:
A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!
The most hopeful reading of this is that Trump wants this action to be strictly limited, and that, as he indicated in March, it’s time for U.S. forces to go home. A darker reading is that Trump made a Freudian slip, evoking George W. Bush’s notorious appearance on the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003, when he declared victory in Iraq in a lull before a full-blown insurgency erupted. Darker still, might Trump be signaling his awareness that he, too, is inching towards another quagmire?
Whatever the case, Trump has surrounded himself with people who seek expanded military involvement in the Middle East—especially in the person of newly installed National Security Advisor John Bolton. Whether he intends it or not, Trump is essentially following the road map of the Project for the New American Century, an influential Washington think-tank of which Bolton was once a director. PNAC, whose agenda had thankfully been scuttled after the Iraq fiasco, has called for destabilization and regime change in no less than seven countries: Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Iran… and Syria. And it should not be assumed that this is merely the agenda of “far Right” neoconservatives. Barack Obama toppled Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi (using similar reasoning as Trump) only to create a failed state and spark a “refugee” crisis of Muslims in the heart of Europe.
Assad’s fall would likely spark a genocide of religious minorities, including Christians—another unintended consequence of “humanitarian interventionism.” Indeed, the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the attendant chaos led to the suppression and expulsion of ancient religious minorities, including the Mandaeans and the Yazidis.
Sadly, we have seen all of this before. Addressing the accusations of meddling in the U.S. election, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke insightfully about what could be called the Deep State and the longue durée of American foreign policy:
Presidents come and go, and even the parties in power change, but the main political direction does not change. That’s why, in the grand scheme of things, we don’t care who’s the head of the United States; we know, more or less, what is going to happen. So in this regard, even if we wanted to, it wouldn’t make sense for us to interfere.
Donald Trump has, sadly, failed to fulfill his potential as an agent of change. Putting aside culture wars and media scandals and focusing strictly on policy, one struggles to imagine how a Marco Rubio or a Hillary Clinton presidency would have unfolded much differently that what we have witnessed over the past year.