WTF: Why Trump Fired – The Tomahawks Of April

By   /   April 9, 2017  /   39 Comments

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The world now waits and watches with amply baited breath to see what Putin and Russia will say or do in response. Not for the first time, the hopes for continued (broad) peace in our time rest upon burly Russian shoulders and pragmatic Slavic restraint.

Back in the first weeks after Trump was elected, some more … alarmist minds insisted on comparing the period we’re living in now to the early 1930s. In Germany. Saying things like “if you’ve ever sat bored in History class and wondered how it felt – wondered what you’d have done … well, wonder no longer. What you do now is what you would have done then. How it feels now is how it felt back then.” And other similar wild oversimplifications.

It’s an interesting exercise in historical synthesis, to be sure; but for a number of folks, the comparison was to decidedly the wrong War With Germany warm-up period.

Instead, for some weeks now I’ve been watching some of the brighter minds of my sphere insist instead upon the idea that we’re actually living in a historical re-rub of 1914. That rather than simply watching an autocratic individual begin an arc of ascent into the political supernal … we’re witnessing the squaring off of two Great Powers and their attendant allies in a complex, hypersensitive arrangement which might very well presage a serious and significant armed conflict – a shooting war – between these twinned armed camps. Provided, of course, that the right spark arrived with which to set the entire powderkeg ablaze. A “Proud Tower”, if you will.

At first, I thought this was dismissable as the same sort of alarmist rhetoric which saw endless invocations of “TRUMP IS LITERALLY HITLER” [or, more superciliously, because some millennials apparently insist upon political comparison being phrased in terms of pop-cultural references … “TRUMP IS LITERALLY VOLDEMORT”].

And then, at a little after 13:00 Friday, we received news that the Trump Administration had fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria. Or, in other words, that America had attacked a Russian ally, by bombarding a military installation which also harboured Russian personnel. About the only consolation thus far is that a pre-warning to the Russians means it’s unlikely that any actual Russian casualties have been sustained. And, for that matter, that the choice of cruise missiles rather than bombers, meant a lack of overt American casualties. This latter point matters not so much due to any concern on my part for the lives of American servicemen – but more because had there been American deaths as part of this retaliatory operation, then further escalation on the US’s part would have been made vastly more likely. An exceptionally scarier prospect indeed.

The world now waits and watches with amply baited breath to see what Putin and Russia will say or do in response. Not for the first time, the hopes for continued (broad) peace in our time rest upon burly Russian shoulders and pragmatic Slavic restraint.

To be sure, it is not the first time we’ve all – collectively – found ourselves in this situation. Probably the best example from the later 20th century is, obviously, the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But then, despite the speculation that his medicinal use of methamphetamine might have altered his judgement [leading to a vastly more confrontational outcome at the Vienna Summit in 1961], the West had a seriously perspicacious and competent leader – a statesman, even – in the form of President Kennedy. To echo Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s ringing words to Dan Quayle in 1988 after the latter had compared himself to Kennedy … of Trump, it is easily possible to say of him “You’re no Jack Kennedy!

Not least because when it came to Kennedy’s parlous position in 1963 with the Missile Crisis, Kennedy at least had a clear and compelling sense of his place in history. In fact, he’d just read a book – The Guns of August – about the situation which lead to World War One; and was therefore very much acutely aware of how even small flash-points, when not treated with utmost calm and restraint, could easily boil over into giant and almighty continent (or even world) engulfing conflagrations.

The policy pursued towards Russia as the result of that particular WMD-related encounter, therefore, was one of avoiding rather inflaming conflict – lest the unthinkable happen. Phrased another way, I suspect I’ve just implicitly said that a man with a well-documented meth habit may actually have had better perspicacity and impulse-control than the present President of the United States.

And having said that, as bad as President Trump’s subsonic outburst has been … it could always have been worse. Hillary Clinton suggested in an interview conducted the same day as the missile striek that had SHE been Commander-in-Chief, that the United States would have gone further – MUCH further – in its bellicose actions against Syria. Instead of simply temporarily shutting down one airfield and damaging a few planes [for that’s pretty much what this attack has done], she would have had the collective might of the US Military attempt to destroy pretty much the lot. And, given her comments about Russia aired in the same interview, one can only wonder how much more overtly aggressive towards the Russians she might have been in the process.

Although it is interesting to invoke the specter of “Clintonian” foreign policy in the context of what happened Friday. Not just because of the natural questions as to what the alternative to Trump would have done; but because there are several precedents drawn from her husband’s tenure as President which are pretty overtly similar to what we’ve just witnessed.

The first and most obvious of these is the narrowly-averted *actual shooting engagement* between Russia and NATO which took place during the Serbian intervention in 1999. Then, as with today, Russian forces were again deployed at an airbase which the US and its allies wished rendered inoperable by adversarial hands. Troops from the UK were sent in – and were ordered straight-up by the American General acting as NATO Supreme Commander Europe to engage the Russians with force. Needless to say … this would almost certainly have lead to a patently undesirable escalation of (literal) conflict between NATO and Russia, with the very real risk of World War Three ensuing as a result. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed (including a young, pre-stardom James Blunt – yes, *that* James Blunt), and the American order to British forces was countermanded by the UK’s General Mike Jackson.

The second concerns the cruise missile strike which Bill Clinton ordered against a pharmaceutical factory located in Sudan, which was alleged to have been manufacturing a nerve gas that might have been put to use by Al Qaeda. Now, as it happens, the “evidence” which underpinned this decision was later thrown into some rather strong doubt by even the Americans themselves. And, in concert with the now demonstrably spurious assertions of Iraq allegedly possessing vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (other than, presumably, the ones America sold them in the first place), just goes to show that the American track-record of alleging that Middle Eastern countries are in possession of nerve agents is not exactly one hundred per cent.

My point is that the comparable actions from recent American history to what occurred Friday do not necessarily suggest that Trump’s course here is the particularly wise one. Hitting wrong targets on the basis of faulty intelligence; and engaging in a dangerous dance of death by ‘prodding the Great Bear’ … are not what many would call fine examples of Presidential prudence. It is a dangerous form of international engagement indeed which only avoids serious escalation through the patience and valued restraint of the Russians.

But leaving aside the precedents and the potential Great Power entanglement … what of the attack itself which prompted Trump’s missile strike? Has it been proven that the Syrian Government ordered it and carried it out? I am not aware of actual evidence that this is the case. The best we have is conjecture, awaiting verification. (And assertions on the part of Turkey which some might view as rather sketchy and questionably motivated) Russia has stated – quite validly, might I add – that if the United States is in possession of evidence as “incontrovertible” as has been claimed of Syrian culpability, that this should be made public as promptly as possible. They have also floated a counter-narrative of Syrian warplanes hitting a chemical munitions depot controlled by rebels; whilst others have suggested the potential for some form of deliberate ‘atrocity propaganda’ by those opposed to Assad.

Certainly, there are a regrettably lengthy span of instances which prove either narrative may have validity. In the case of the former, the UN’s Carla Del Ponte has already made the case for anti-Assad forces carrying out at least one chemical weapons attack in Syria alreadyWhilst others have scratched their heads asking what on earth Assad could POSSIBLY have to gain from carrying out this kind of attack mere days after the stunning reversal of US position on his government.

And in the case of the latter, it has become regrettably customary for Western military interventions to be prefaced with all manner of exaggerations and outright lies in order to create a moral imperative for NATO ordnance to begin raining down in earnest. Consider, for starters, the breathless allegations by a girl called Nayirah of Iraqi forces deliberately killing Kuwaiti infants which preceded the First Gulf War. At the time, nobody thought to mention that the person making the accusations was the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States; and it was only after the intervention against Iraq had already taken place that it was shown just how willfully counterfactual her story had been.

Another instance is the much-maligned “people shredder” which Saddam Hussein was reputed to possess. Countries across the West were sold on the Iraq War (the Second one, I mean) on the basis that a man who allegedly fed his own people into a woodchipper as a form of torturous execution absolutely had to go. The claim about such an apparatus and its moral turgidity justifying invasion was continually repeated by MPs and even Prime Ministers in a number of polities. It turned up as the direct subject of any number of Jingoistic headlines and articles. And you know what the funny thing is? As far as we can tell, this plastic people eater never seems to have existed in the first place. A ‘convenient fiction’ which, in its own way, wound up giving garb-of-right to any number of subsequent civilian killings.

Or, more recently, we had the statements by US diplomats that Gaddafi was issuing his troops with massive quantities of Viagra for the purposes of facilitating atrocity-scale mass-rapes as part of his bid to shore up domestic control. By this point, it should probably come as absolutely no surprise that investigations by a number of organizations (including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders) have failed fairly comprehensively to find any actual evidence that this took place.

But, you know, what does it matter. The US got its NATO-backed Air War in Libya, ‘officially justified’ in no small measure by striking claims that Gaddafi was some sort of monstrously evil man regularly carrying out acts of CARTOONISH SUPERVILLAINY against his own people. (Rather than, you know, the tangible acts of every-day regular and more low-key despotism which the US habitually tolerates – or even outright encourages – from its allies and vassals).

So with all of the above in mind, it is certainly possible to view the “official narrative” being bandied about (without substantiation nor serious detail, might I add) by the Americans with a certain healthy degree of skepticism.

I am not saying that an exposure of a civilian population to a chemical warfare agent did not happen earlier this week. After all, unlike at least one of the other sources I’ve cited in this piece, I am no expert in this area. All I am doing is noting that there are so many unanswered questions – and previous instances of a dubious nature – that it is difficult to take the American justification for shooting first and waiting for actual verification of facts to come later as being the ‘right’ course of action.

Particularly given the manifestly high-stakes nature of this situation. And, further, the fact that some of the loudest supporters and direct beneficiaries of America embarking on a campaign of destruction in Syria appear to be ISIS themselves.

Serious questions need to be asked, to my mind, whenever the most vocal supporters of your course of action are Republicans who seem to deliberately wish to provoke a war with Russia, Neocons of all stripes, and the very abhorrent black-clad militants whom pretty much all factions and actors involved in Syria’s ongoing horror agree are the local apogee of evil.

Whatever the ins and outs of American domestic politics which gave rise to this rather stunning reversal of position on Trump’s behalf – from consciously eschewing the prospect of US involvement in Syria on the campaign trail and repudiating America’s previously held position of demanding Assad’s ouster, through to what may very well turn into an escalating campaign of military action … I think we have justifiable cause to be worried.

What makes this even worse is that many of the theories as to why Trump has suddenly changed position are not built around what you might call notions of Trump as a rational strategic actor. The lead narrative doing the rounds at present is that his daughter, Ivanka, had an emotional reaction to photographs of the aftermath of the chemical incident and thusly brought to bear influence on her father to engage in an aggressive response. It doesn’t take more than a moment’s consideration to see why that is fairly immediately concerning; although it is potentially an open question as to whether the First Daughter attempting to shape policy in reaction to photos shared on Twitter is more or less worrying than, say, Nancy Reagan doing much the same thing on the basis of consulting an astrologer.

Besides, even if we accept that a certain ‘humanitarian’ impulse lies behind Trump’s decision to bombard an airbase with missiles, this does not necessarily improve the situation. Not least because we’re still not entirely sure where somewhere more than half of the missiles used on Friday actually landed. They may even have erroneously hit civilian targets. “Humanitarian Interventions” rarely stop with a single action; and the evidence thus far from Syria is that US-led airpower is actually more lethal to civilians than ISIS. We should therefore be very cautious about this motivation – and its related impetii from “interventionist left” voices calling for a stepping up of Western bombing campaigns against Syria.

Another (not necessarily exclusive) narrative has the strike resulting from an increasingly fractious relationship between Trump and his formerly closest advisor Steve Bannon; in parallel with the rising influence of Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner. Phrased in these terms, military action in Syria has come about due to the chief ideologue of ‘America First’ and noninterventionism being eclipsed by an entirely different sort of operator who’s not nearly as concerned with maintaining the doctrinal purity – much less, promises to voters – of the Trump White House. This growing split between Trump and Bannon had been suggested earlier, when Bannon was removed from the National Security Council (although there are alternative explanations for that); but with media-pieces now appearing that seem to suggest Trump is considering getting rid of Bannon entirely, it certainly seems probable that this situation at the heart of American politics will be getting worse before it gets better.

A third set of explanations concern the ongoing struggle between what some have termed the US “Deep State” and the previously announced vision of the Trump Administration. This is the same strife-line arguably responsible for General Flynn’s ouster as National Security Advisor (important, due to Flynn’s advocacy for warmer – rather than more antagonistic – relations with Russia); and if true, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that the CIA et co have undertaken to duplicitously manipulate a President into doing their bidding against his better judgement.

It’s also possible that Trump ordered this missile barrage out of a simple desire to be liked. Not just by his own daughter and son-in-law, or by the shadowy spooks who hang out in cigar-smoke-filled back rooms with videos of the Kennedy assassination shot from the Grassy Knoll. But by the American people at large. They’ve been saturated with images and evidence (whatever its provenance) that Assad’s a bad guy; and recently, this has reached somewhat of a fever-pitch with the latest round of gassing allegations. Trump’s occasionally somewhat paradoxical need for (popular) approval, therefore, may have lead him to choose to respond to the bellowing demands of a certain swathe of popular opinion … whilst electing to disregard that segment of the body-politik whose votes he relied upon to get into office in the first place, and whom we might fairly describe as being broadly “anti-interventionist” as the result of their previous visceral experiences with the human consequences of ongoing Imperial OverReach.

Or, for that matter, whether appointing a guy with the nickname of “Mad Dog” to the lofty position of Secretary of Defence may have lead to a certain irascibility when it comes to the Administration’s policy in Syria.

Oh, and it would be extraordinarily remiss of me to neglect to include the “explanation” proffered by those people for whom everything Trump does – up to and including attacking a Russian Ally, apparently – is the singular result of a Putin-authored conspiracy.

In any case, regardless of why Trump has done what he has done, we are now in rather perilous waters. A rational appraisal of the situation would suggest that Russia will be unlikely to retaliate – and that the US, having flexed its hugely expensive military muscles in a largely ineffective show of force, can go back to voicing vague distaste in diplomatic forae without doing anything substantive.

But for a number of reasons, it would now appear perhaps questionable that we are dealing with rational decision-makers operating within the constraints of rational assumptions about a rational environment.

And, as we know from decades of analysis on both game theory and brinksmanship in international relations … it’s the consciously /irrational/ actors who are the dangerous ones.

After all, as we saw in the immediate period before the outbreak of World War One – to a /rational/ actor, it would have been almost entirely inconceivable for a continent-spanning world war to break out given the nature of the international situation at the time – particularly over something as relatively small in scale as an intervention in a third-rate country which had long been something of a volatile hot-spot.

Yet the inexorable march of history oft-seems with alarming frequency to be hell-bent upon making avowed fools of the best-laid plans of mice and men.

Let us hope with avowed fervor that the continued course of the Trump Presidency does not give us cause to ponder Karl Marx’s famous maxim upon the subject of Louis-Napoleon’s seizure of power in France that events in history often occur twice – the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

[Author’s Note: Thank you to Russell Berry and others for helping with some of the inspiration for this piece. Hope you’re not right.]

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39 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    Tick tock tick tock.

    Russia is an asset to us as we need a balance here.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      The way I see it , is that there are number of elements worth considering:

      1) Trump was accused of Russian interference in USA elections.

      2) What better way to defer those claims than be seen to get ‘ heavy’ with Russia – and Assad.

      3) USA attacked a basically pre-warned ‘ empty ‘ airfield.

      4) Russian troops and Syrian troops were evacuated from that airfield.

      5) Prior warning was given to both the Russians and the Syrians.

      6) Russia wants an oil pipeline through Syria.

      7) Syria benefits from royalty’s from that pipeline. Iraq supports Russia and Syria because they back the Shiites theocracy ( in Iraq) .

      8) USA backs Saudi Arabia because of it fulfills its energy requirements – and Saudi Arabia , Qatar and Bahrain used the Clinton Foundation as a conduit for arms to be distributed to ISIS.

      9 ) Saudi Arabia is a Sunni Muslim majority – and supports ISIS because they are Sunni. Sunni Muslims believe Shiites are heretics and worthy of the death penalty.

      10 ) Iraq is a Shiite Muslim theocracy. Syria is a secular govt.

      11) Saudi Arabia see Shiite Iraq and secular Syria as a religious/ political threat to their Monarchy.

      12 ) The reason why Obama did not fight ISIS was because it went contrary to the Clinton Foundation and USA arms manufacture / profits. And contrary to the wishes of the Saudi govt / monarchy. It also went contrary to USA oil / energy / economic requirements .

      13) This way Trump deflects domestic opinion about Russian interference of USA elections by looking ‘ tough ‘ against Russia.

      14) At the same time, Trump is entertaining the Chinese President in Florida- and orders airstrikes on Syria.

      15 ) This sends a message to North Korea ,- but the REAL message is in fact directed towards China – with the message that the USA is willing to use force in the South China seas.

      16) This also forces NATO country’s to finance their own military efforts against Russia – something that Trump has warned them about. Trump is no longer wishing to subsidize NATO military expenses.

      17) This also weakens the U N’s moral high ground – particularity in regards to its relations with NATO country’s against Russia. Russia is no great friend of China. This plays into Trumps geopolitical objectives in lessening the U N ‘s influence in domestic USA policy’s and control.

      17) This whole incident is a mock up for political effect.

      ——————————————-

      There will be no World War Three.

      This whole thing has been an agreed on political exercise between the USA , Russia and Syria. It has used the privatized MSM as their propaganda wing and willing stooges.

      It placates the Israeli population to be seen to deal a blow against Pan Arab-ism / Muslim faiths without severing vital political links between Russia and the USA or its financial commitments towards Israel. And thus reinforce support for the Israeli Knesset without raising suspicions of USA / Russian collaboration.

      The USA has bombed an pre agreed- unpon empty airfield in Syria for political effect against China.

      And this is all it was always about.

      Nothing more.

      The airfield that was bombed had at most an old rusty wire fence, a few empty hangars, the destruction of a few jet fighters worth a few million which is peanuts compared to Russia’s oil pipeline, virtually nil military casualties , and was agreed on before it even happened.

      We live in the era of fake news.

      Get a grip on yourselves.

      The only thing to come out of all this is to enrage the moral fiber of ordinary decent citizens and to provide yet even more cannon fodder for those global controllers who stand to profit by it.

      Do not be fooled by their theatrics.

      Its fake.

      Its as fraudulent as an Eleven dollar bill.

      Give them the one fingered salute for their foolishness in thinking we would ever be so easily taken in.

      • Gosman says:

        “Iraq is a Shiite Muslim theocracy. Syria is a secular govt”

        I suggest you have zero evidence for this claim

        • Sam Sam says:

          There is opinion and claims and then there is goose.

          So if I say ‘ I like goody goody gum drop ice cream’ <–thats an opinion

          But if i say ” goody goody gum drop is the best ice cream' <–thats a claim

          But if goose says it, its bullshit

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Oh ,.. and btw,… it want Assad who used those chemical weapons,… it was the rebels backed by Saudi Arabia who wanted to stall the latest negotiations.

      And like the fawning fool that it is, … the USA played along with it.

      I’d like to use the words ‘ wankers’ and ‘ fuckers’ … but that isn’t considered polite political jargon. Even if innocent civilians die because of these shitheads.

      But you know what I mean.

      I’m just glad I’m a Kiwi and not known for mincing words.

      A little bit like our Aussie cousins, – except we are a little bit more honest than them these days it seems.

      Thank Goodness.

  2. Francesca says:

    in 2013 the UN put out a report confirming that the “rebels” Al Queda/Al Nusra, were in possession of and had used sarin gas on Syrian soldiers and civilians
    In 2014 , after the Syrian govts chemical weapons had been removed and destroyed under Russian and US supervision, the OPCW declared that the last of Assads chemical weapons had been destroyed.
    Meaning that the rebels were the only armed group in Syria with chemical weapons
    Khan Sheikhoun was under the control of Al Nusra/Al Queda.
    Why is it so impossible to imagine that they didn’t have a cache of sarin there?
    “Experts” have apparently refuted the Russian claim that the Syrian air strikes damaged a sarin cache, thus releasing gas, claiming that this would be impossible, that you can’t store sarin gas, and that it loses its efficacy when exploded
    Today, the US military said they didn’t target the building storing the Syrians sarin because the explosion would have caused the release of sarin gas and hurt civilians
    So which is it?
    You can’t have it both ways
    And what happened to the missiles that went astray and are unaccounted for, if the strikes had such precision
    This is a school boys tale, the only grown ups seem to be the Russians showing statesman ship and restraint

    • Brigid says:

      Exactly!! And I’ve yet to be convinced that in was Sarin that affected the victims. In fact the only reporting as far as I can tell has come from Al Queda/Al Nusra spokespeople, who cannot be trusted to report the truth.

      • CLEANGREEN says:

        Yes it was a faming of Assad here as he was getting to much support from others for the Syrian opposition to be happy so they framed Assad, it was probably inspired by CIA too.

      • Sam Sam says:

        Moral of the story – offical statments are political fairy dust

    • BG says:

      Not disputing that point. In fact I would say ISIS is sick enough to use any means possible to inflict death and destruction on infidels (under the premise that they are the religion of peace, but that’s another argument).

      Why then did both Syria and Russia point to a chemical factory being hit for the reason for the death of so many civilians? You’d think if they thought it was ISIS they would come up to the plate and say that (because you’re right, it seems more than plausible).

      Notwithstanding that if ISIS did use chemical weapons then then why come up with some cockamamie story about a chemical factory that happened to have what looks like a pretty deadly gas agent that happened to then spill over to civilians.

      Sorry it doesn’t pass the sniff test.

  3. countryboy says:

    I find all this stuff vaguely interesting at best but I can hardly be bothered dignifying the looming hissy fits between noble leaders of noble nations with a comment.
    Our world leaders seem to me to be just a bus load of silly old men and dopy old women trying to out penis and out vagina each other respectively.
    My solution would be drugs. Good drugs. Proper E. Not the muck that we must pretend to get high on that might, or might not, squeeze past our zealous and all bought and paid for customs. If good E is known to allow two ageing and bored people re ignite their loves and passions as a marriage counselling chemical then why not dump truck loads of the stuff on nutters who like to go peow-peow with big guns? Or, would that to idiot Dunne, be too dangerous, more dangerous than WW3 and a nuclear holocaust?
    Is Trump not a clean living psychotic narcissist? Lets get him happy-messy I say and lock him in a room with puppies and kittens. Finally, world peace.

    The alternative, the one we have, is of ferocious and perverse lunatics whacking their diddles about as kids die then rot. yay.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Absolutely ferkin gorgeous. Countryboy.

      That amazing ,cynical , poetical truth of yours strikes to the mark every time.

      Always look forward to your blunt, colourful comments.

      Don’t you ever , ever stop.

  4. Francesca says:

    Geoffrey Palmer was on the radio this morning putting a strong case for NZ neutrality.
    We can’t afford to remain tied to an increasingly bellicose, criminal and decaying US.
    It filled me with anger and shame to hear McCully spouting off in high moral tones about Assads war crimes in Syria
    Where was his voice when US air strikes left children in Mosul dying under rubble, when tens of innocent civilians were killed at a funeral in Yemen, when the US has admitted to using (banned) depleted uranium in Syria, when Israel decides to “mow the lawn “in Gaza
    He put so much store by NZs temporary seat at the security Council, then applauds missile strikes on Syria before the Security Council has even met to discuss the sarin attack, before the details of the attack have even been verified by a thorough and independent investigation
    There are no NGOS on the ground at Khan Sheikhoun, no western journalists, no Red Cross, UN bodies,Amnesty International or HRW
    Why?Because you’re liable to get your head chopped off by “rebels”
    as happened to James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, both abducted in Aleppo and publicly beheaded
    So the only news coming out of Idlib governorate is from the people dedicated to getting rid of Assad, White Helmets and the like, trained in media by those western powers desperate also to unseat Assad
    They don’t want his secular government, or his free higher education for women, or religious freedoms, they want sharia law, all over Syria , not just Idlib
    It sickens me that we give propaganda succour to these people.
    Lets make independence and neutrality an election issue

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Yes, – Lets make independence and neutrality an election issue we are so far from the action anyway.

  5. Francesca says:

    Geoffrey Palmer was on the radio this morning putting a strong case for NZ neutrality.
    We can’t afford to remain tied to an increasingly bellicose, criminal and decaying US.
    It filled me with anger and shame to hear McCully spouting off in high moral tones about Assads war crimes in Syria
    Where was his voice when US air strikes left children in Mosul dying under rubble, when tens of innocent civilians were killed at a funeral in Yemen, when the US has admitted to using (banned) depleted uranium in Syria, when Israel decides to “mow the lawn “in Gaza
    He put so much store by NZs temporary seat at the security Council, then applauds missile strikes on Syria before the Security Council has even met to discuss the sarin attack, before the details of the attack have even been verified by a thorough and independent investigation
    There are no NGOS on the ground at Khan Sheikhoun, no western journalists, no Red Cross, UN bodies,Amnesty International or HRW
    Why?Because you’re liable to get your head chopped off by “rebels”
    as happened to James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, both abducted in Aleppo and publicly beheaded
    So the only news coming out of Idlib governorate is from the people dedicated to getting rid of Assad, White Helmets and the like, trained in media by those western powers desperate also to unseat Assad
    They don’t want his secular government, or his free higher education for women, or religious freedoms, they want sharia law, all over Syria , not just Idlib
    It sickens me that we give propaganda succour to these people.
    Lets make independence and neutrality an election issue

  6. Pat O'Dea says:

    … what of the attack itself which prompted Trump’s missile strike? Has it been proven that the Syrian Government ordered it and carried it out? I am not aware of actual evidence that this is the case. The best we have is conjecture, awaiting verification. (And assertions on the part of Turkey which some might view as rather sketchy and questionably motivated) Russia has stated – quite validly, might I add – that if the United States is in possession of evidence as “incontrovertible” as has been claimed of Syrian culpability, that this should be made public as promptly as possible. They have also floated a counter-narrative of Syrian warplanes hitting a chemical munitions depot controlled by rebels; whilst others have suggested the potential for some form of deliberate ‘atrocity propaganda’ by those opposed to Assad.

    Certainly, there are a regrettably lengthy span of instances which prove either narrative may have validity. In the case of the former, the UN’s Carla Del Ponte has already made the case for anti-Assad forces carrying out at least one chemical weapons attack in Syria already. Whilst others have scratched their heads asking what on earth Assad could POSSIBLY have to gain from carrying out this kind of attack mere days after the stunning reversal of US position on his government.

    And in the case of the latter, it has become regrettably customary for Western military interventions to be prefaced with all manner of exaggerations and outright lies in order to create a moral imperative for NATO ordnance to begin raining down in earnest.

    Curwen Rollerson

    While the Liberal Left tie themselves up in knots of illogic and conjecture, trying to explain the gas attack, and the motives and persons behind it.

    Having been in Syria, and since closely followed events there.

    I have to ask:

    Has no one ever heard of Occam’s razor?

    Copied from a post by the Lebanese-Australian anthropologist Ghassan Hague, whose comments on the Middle East are always spot on….

    “The US bombing of a Syrian airfield has nothing to do with saving Syrians from the criminality of the Assad regime. The US have supported this regime and its criminality when it suited them and they will do it again. And as Maya Mikdashi has pointed out you cannot act as if you care about the victims of Assad when you are at the same time demonising them as refugees and blocking their escape routes.
    Having said this, those who ask ‘what interest does Assad have in using chemical weapons?’ are asking the wrong question. The use of chemical weapons by Assad is not a strategic decision. The question makes it out as if this bombing is a unique event. Chemicals are an integral dimension of Assad’s dictatorial rule, and its mode of humiliating, crushing, terrorising and eliminating dissent. To use a sentence by my friend the late Patrick Wolfe ‘it is a structure not an event’. It is at the core of the necro-politics that is at the foundation of Assad’s Syria. So much so that we can speak of a chemico-necropolitics.
    In this way it is no different to American imperialism which from Vietnam to Iraq has a distinctly chemico-necropolitics at its base, or to Israel’s phosphoric bombs-laced subjugation of Palestinians, except that in the Assad regime’s case, it is a government’s relation to its own people.

  7. Pat O'Dea says:

    And as to why Trump fired the “Tomahawks Of April”?

    Curwen Rollerson and others have remained sceptical at Donald’s Trump’s new found concern for murdered Syrian children.

    The fact that Donald Trump was sitting down to dinner with Xi Jinping at the same time the attack was going down, might have had something to do with it.

    I wonder how Mr Xi got to hear of it? Did one of his aides whisper it in his ear? Or did Donald Trump bring it up, “Oh, by the way Xi, while we are discussing North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, I have just launched 59 cruise missiles (at US$2 million a piece) against Basha Assad’s forces for using WMDs. What do you think about them apples?”

    US “Strike Force” moves towards North Korea.

    Earlier this week President Trump  threatened to “act alone” against North Korea as he met Chinese President Xi Jinping face-to-face for the first time in Florida.

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3291286/us-navy-strike-group-is-moving-towards-north-korea-amid-mounting-tensions-over-despot-kim-jong-uns-nuke-tests/

  8. Nitrium Nitrium says:

    This is easily the best write-up of Trump’s ill-advised and belligerent attack I’ve read so far (and I’ve read quite a few). Nicely done!

    • Samwise says:

      Ditto, nitrium. Curren has sussed it perfectly. I don’t for a minute believe that Assad carried out the gassing. The fact the target was of no military value suggests that this was a propaganda excise and not a real battlefield exercise.

      It’s unfortunate that the mum is not questioning this further.

      This story simply doesn’t stack up.

  9. Stuart Munro says:

    It ain’t over yet – a US carrier was pulled out of Singapore off schedule & is steaming for the Sea of Japan.

    Gunboat diplomacy – an approach so simplistic even Trump can follow it.

  10. Jack Ramaka says:

    The US spoiling for a punch up?

    • Stuart Munro says:

      Foreign wars are balm for domestic problems – worked a treat for Maggie Thatcher for example. Trump is far from secure at home – a little shelling of traditional enemies will do his polls the world of good.

  11. Pat O'Dea says:

    Trump’s show of force in launching 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles costing $2 million US a piece, at an evacuated Syrian airbase, while while sitting down to dinner with the Chinese president, was a pointed message to the Chinese over the South China Sea, and North Korea.

    Analysts had earlier said the strikes contained a clear message for Pyongyang that the US was not afraid to exercise the military option, and there had been speculation as to how the North would respond.
    Trump has recently threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if Beijing fails to help curb its neighbour’s nuclear weapons programme.
    However, Pyongyang’s response suggested the reclusive state was determined to continue with its nuclear weapons programme.

    http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/north-korea-blasts-us-strikes-on-syria-says-justify-nukes-state-media/ar-BBzzWze?li=BBv6TfA&ocid=spartanntp

  12. Jack Ramaka says:

    Who knows where or when this is going to end, at the end of the day there are no winners with a military strategy?

    Just a lot misery, human scarring and tragedy just look at Vietnam as an example?

  13. Pat O'Dea says:

    My feeling is that the gas used in the attack on the rebel areas by the regime was not sarin, more likely it was chlorine. Easier to manufacture and commonly packed into the barrel bombs that the government regularly drop from helicopters onto civilian rebel held towns and areas. Actions that the Assad regime usually get away with, drawing little condemnation from the West.

    So why has the Trump administration raised the stakes by claiming that the regime has started using a nerve agent like sarin on their people.

    Many are not convinced by Trump’s new found concern for murdered Syrian children, more likely than not, a greater justification than normal was needed by the Trump administration to justify their attack on the regime.

    Many are not convinced by Trump’s newfound concern for murdered Syrian children.

    So why was the Trump administration moved to raise the stakes and attack the regime on this occasion?

    Several commentators have posited that the timing had a lot to do with the high profile meeting between Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping, delivering a pointed threat about the US and China’s differences over the South China Sea and North Korea.

    That the attack was launched as Xi and Trump sat down to dinner could hardly be a coincidence.

  14. Pete says:

    ” … A certain ‘humanitarian’ impulse lies behind Trump’s decision…”

    It’s actually a certain ‘human’ impulse. To do with ego.

  15. Tom Gardner says:

    I await an ISIS response: if Trump is now their enemy’s enemy, does that make him their friend?!

    Pedantic point: “baited breath” is the correct spelling in only one example in the English language, in a poem “Cruel clever cat”:

    Sally, having swallowed cheese,
    Directs down holes the scented breeze,
    Enticing thus with baited breath
    Nice mice to an untimely death.
    (Geoffrey Taylor, 1930s)

    Otherwise, check out your Shakespeare, specifically, Shylock

    And while at it: you can’t make “avowed fools of plans”, only of those who might have prepared them.

  16. Afewknowthetruth says:

    The international bankers [based mostly in the US and Britain] cannot stand the independent policies of Russia, and want Russia’s resources brought under their control.

    What we have been witnessing recently is yet another phase of a relentless campaign to subjugate Russia and loot the place that goes back to Russian Revolution.

    If the criminals and clowns that now constitute the bulk of western governments and western bureaucracies think they are going to win any war against Russia they are utterly deluded to the point of complete madness.

    That said, the bankers have made such a shocking mess of the western world and placed the western world in an utterly untenable position and unsustainable position via the squandering of resources and the promotion of grossly polluting activities: they are now rapidly running out of options (manipulating interest rates and manipulating markets no longer generates the required results)……and when bankers run out of options they always promote war.

    These are the most dangerous times in all of human history, both because the western world is government by maniacs and liars and because the energy systems and environment that have supported industrial civilization for over 200 years are now in terminal decline. Concurrent to the shocking energetic and environmental predicaments, the bulk of western populaces now have a sense of materialistic entitlement that has been fostered by the ‘controllers’ for many decades, and the media has been subjugated to a role of promoting squandering of energy and resources. All of it is a recipe for calamity, which is what we are now witnessing, socially, economically and environmentally.

    Expect the lies that now characterize all western government to get ever bigger over the coming years, and expect ever greater military conflict, as the maniacs in control attempt to hang on to their ill-gotten acquisitions at the expense of everyone else, including their own progeny.

    • In Vino says:

      You may be a conspiracist, but having studied and read a certain amount of history, I have a nasty suspicion that you may well be close to the truth.

      Sad times.

  17. Jamie says:

    [Jamie, whatever fair points you made in your comment was lost in the unnecessary ad hominem on Curwen. Feel free to re-draft your comment without the nastiness. – Scarlet]

  18. Mike the Lefty says:

    And now American warships are cruising up and down the Korean peninsular hoping the North Koreans will give them an excuse to fire some more missiles.
    The reason for this is (according to stuff-with-fluff) to “give them a range of options”.
    Sounds a lot like what they were saying just before they fired at Syria.
    Does Trump know what he is doing, or is he just playing “who will blink first”?
    The world is a very dangerous place when you have maniacs with fingers on the triggers of nuclear arsenals.

  19. Mike in Auckland says:

    As I said it in another post on TDB, the true ‘President’ in the White House is now called Ivanka Trump (assisted by her Jewish husband and friend of Israel, Jared Kushner).

    Bannon has been dumped by Trump, and he is now listening to his daughter, who he thinks a lot of.

    We have a family named Trump run the show, with useful generals and security service heads, who have close ties to the US Industrial Military Complex.

    Nothing much good will come of this, I fear.

  20. Iain Mclean says:

    Curwen;

    You have to be commended for your tremendous effort on your paper.

    And with Wild Katipo’s excellent analysis (above) together, the 4 links below will flesh out (and some) the various points raised.

    There is no doubt that the gas attack would have to be a False Flag.(ie Not Assad-no motive)
    When we see ‘White Helmets’ scurrying around with no protective clothing handling the ‘victims’ it just endorses the gut feeling that what we see is being staged again.(Like 2013)

    A McCain/Deep State operation. He visited recently just like he did with the 2013 attack.

    Trump is no ‘Buthead’ and would know this already.

    But what does a President do when confronted with this,with all the anti-Russian
    ‘Trump is Putin’s Puppet’ rhetoric raging back home?
    He has no choice but to act.

    Russia and Syria were notified (along with others) of what was about to unfold.

    4yrs ago Assad signed an agreement that when ISIS was cleared from Syria he would then reform the political system and hold democratic elections.

    There are multi-level goals to be achieved with this action by the Trump Administration.

    At the moment there is no formal agreement with Russia to co-ordinate in the elimination of ISIS.
    If Trump could pull this one off it would be a very painful ‘poke in the eye’ for
    the Globalists.

    “If this strike didn’t happen, and Trump went to Russia to forge a coalition to fight ISIS, the neo-cons in Congress and his administration would undermine him while claiming publicly he’s a “Russian puppet.” But now, with the strike, he can “deescalate” tensions with Russia into a coalition to fight ISIS under the guise of stopping bloodshed in Syria…”

    Machiavellian Trump?
    https://www.infowars.com/trumps-syria-strike-what-theyre-not-telling-you/

    Dr Pieczenik – Intel Insider: Listen carefully to Pieczenik’s words. Pertinate facts about Steve Bannon as well as Dr Jerome Corsi’s comments.
    https://www.infowars.com/pieczenik-cruise-missile-strikes-were-a-statement-to-china/

    I would not give too much credence to the Express article about Ivanka when it seems that there is a serious problem with Jared Kushner, Trumps son in law.
    Roger Stone interview also has pertinate comments about Steve Bannon.

    “Tens of thousands of troops being dumped,as we speak,on the ground from the US Military.”
    https://www.infowars.com/donald-trump-carried-out-syria-missile-strike-after-being-convinced-by-daughter-ivanka/

    Summary.
    https://www.infowars.com/false-flag-attack-started-syriaus-conflict-alex-jones-reports/

    UPDATE:
    https://www.infowars.com/exclusive-massive-us-invasion-of-syria-has-already-begun/

    Let us hope the Globalists get out-played again.

    Cheers.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      ‘infowars’, hmmm?!

      • Sam Sam says:

        Info Wars is the new mainstream media with out the political fairy dust, not totally dust free I mean info wars is roght wing so will play up any divide there to trigger click bait and generally be triggering.

  21. Fabian says:

    It’s amazing the biased MSM is unanimously in favour of Trump’s (or what Jimmy Dore calls him “Donnie Tiny Hands”) impulsive actions last weekend. That Brian Williams from MSNBC calling the images of launched tomahawk missiles ‘beautiful’ just makes you want to vomit! Just find one journalist in Corporate media speaking out against the mess in Syria – well there are none! Go back to the Iraq War – Phil Donahue who had the highest rated show on MSNBC got fired for speaking out against the war which just exposes their corruption in unspeakable volumes.

    And it’s really sad how independent media outlets such as Kyle Kulinski’s Secular Talk and The Jimmy Dore Show naming a few, have to rely on Patreon patrons to keep their shows afloat given the ad revenue streams being pulled from the many YouTube channels out there. Establishment meddling to its rotten core!

    As for Hillary Clinton and the situation in Libya and Benghazi – the video is out there when she gleefully made that preposterous statement in response to Gaddafi’s death (“We came, we saw, he died”). While Trump may be bad right now, she would have been much worse being the warhawk that she is. I so glad she lost – and it’s even worse when the Corporate Democrats refuse to admit they lost in forcefeeding a terrible candidate but instead, they blame Russia for rigging the election. Look how that’s backfiring on them now! Keep it up and no doubt Trump will win another term!