Trump, Syria and the “Swamp”

In a dramatic shift from regular protocol, the mainstream media, liberal Democrats, establishment Republicans and the Intelligence Community are all heaping praise on Donald Trump’s decision to fire 60 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase. This raises the obvious question: why?

Last week, President Trump gave the order to strike a Syrian airbase that U.S. intelligence reports claim unleashed chemical weapons on innocent civilians.

This decision was a stunning reversal for Trump, who on numerous occasions had jumped to Twitter to caution former President Obama against engaging in the civil war that was raging in Syria.

In 2013, he warned about the optics of attacking Syria.

A month later, he hinted at his future “America First” policy by advising the president to fix his own country instead of sending troops into Syria.

He also repeatedly hammered Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during his campaign for their failed policy related to the Syrian refugee crisis and the Assad regime.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams blogged about the benefits of Trump’s strike on Syria. From a persuasion standpoint, they are exceptional.

  1. Trump disproved the theory that he is “Putin’s puppet.”
  2. Trump partly solved for the belief that he is incompetent.
  3. Conversations with China about North Korea just became easier.
  4. It may make Iran feel “more flexible” when it’s time to talk about their nuclear program.
  5. It set up Trump’s plan for a Syrian safe zone.
  6. It made Syrian’s government more open to a lasting peace in the future.
  7. Weakening an enemy of Israel makes Israel safer.

However, there’s also a disturbing report that Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, may have played a significant role in influencing her father to take action. I don’t put much credence behind this theory.

Regardless of what his reasons were for calling the strike, Trump will now be forced to walk a fine line on future military actions to appeal to his base and the rest of the country.

Because of his previous resolute stance on the issue, many of his ardent supporters are confused today by his sudden change of heart. But while this move may have alienated some of his followers, it also received high marks from some of his fiercest detractors.

Whether it be left-wing Democrats, pro-war Republicans or the liberal media, they all appear to be jumping on the “Trump Train” after the missile strike, in support of  a more long-term offensive strategy in Syria.

But is another drawn-out military engagement in the Middle East the best course of action for this fledgling Trump administration? Three years ago, I believe Trump would have been adamantly against it. Today, I’m not so sure.

Trump stood out among his rivals in the 2016 race by rejecting the mainstream consensus that the United States should intervene in Syria, a view supported by both the neoconservatives of the Republican Party and the liberal internationalists of the Democrat Party.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that few were as pleased to see Trump attack Assad’s airbase as Republican Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

In a joint statement, they said: “We salute the skill and professionalism of the U.S. Armed Forces who carried out tonight’s strikes in Syria. Acting on the orders of their commander-in-chief, they have sent an important message the United States will no longer stand idly by as Assad, aided and abetted by Putin’s Russia, slaughters innocent Syrians with chemical weapons and barrel bombs. Unlike the previous administration, President Trump confronted a pivotal moment in Syria and took action.”

Known for being overly hawkish on Russia and Syria, Sens. McCain and Graham have both been extremely critical of President Trump in the past for his reluctance to antagonize our adversaries in the region. The recent strike seems to have assuaged some of the concerns these senators had. Unfortunately, it appears that nothing short of a full-blown regime change will be enough to satisfy them.

But not every politician in Washington, D.C. is supportive of President Trump’s attack.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) called the president’s decision “reckless” and “short-sighted.”

“It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government,” Gabbard said in a statement, issued Thursday. “This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaida and other terrorists, and a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia — which could lead to nuclear war.”

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blasted the “McCains of the world” for hindering a political solution in Syria.

“Anybody who wants to talk to Putin about a political settlement and helping Assad go away, anybody who wants to talk about that, myself included, will be called by the McCains of this world a friend of Vladimir Putin,” Paul told CNN’s Michael Smerconish. “So, as long as we have that kind of stupidity involved in the debate it makes it very hard to get to what President Obama said and what many other thinking people said that the answer in Syria is ultimately a political solution.”

It is now being reported that liberal leaders are calling for someone to primary challenge Gabbard because of her Syria skepticism, saying that she “shouldn’t be in Congress.” And Sen. McCain went on CNN to mock his fellow senator, Rand Paul, insisting that he doesn’t have “any real influence in the United States Senate.”

In a comment to The Guardian, Peter McKenna writes that “our media and politicians have reported as established fact the responsibility of the Syrian regime for the use of sarin in Idlib. They have created an atmosphere where anyone who, however dispassionately, asks for evidence of that – or even suggests that the militias on the ground are al-Qaida affiliated and that both al-Qaida and western intelligence agencies have been known to lie and worse – is an apologist for the killing of children.”

McKenna warns that “it was in just such a febrile context that we allowed our leaders to destroy the states of Iraq and Libya. But this time the war drum is beating against another world power.”

These types of Alinsky-style, McCarthyism fear tactics by liberal leaders and politicians like Sen. McCain do nothing to solve the many challenges that the U.S. faces around the world. Instead, they are designed solely to silence anyone who may voice opposition to another full-scale war.

One strike on a Syrian airbase, in retaliation for a violation of human rights by a tyrannical despot, is probably not going to start World War III. However, listening to the advise of the “McCains of the world” very well could.

If Trump wishes to be successful and fulfill his promises to the American people, he must continue to surround himself with advisers who will tell him the truth.

“The Swamp” is not his friend.

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