POLITICS-Sunday on Meet the Press, Senator Lindsey Graham said, "If you're an adversary of the United States, and you don't worry about what Trump may do any given day, then you're crazy." Well, we already knew that Assad was stone cold nuts crazy, no breaking news there, and Kim Jong Un makes even Assad look like a sensible, sober guy. It's our closest ALLIES who are worried. It's a majority of our own CITIZENS who are worried. And that's what we're going to talk about today.
We remember well the campaign promises of George W. Bush to get America out of the nation building business. And some thought that meant less foreign interventionism. But he quickly dove into nation busting, and the human and social wreckage has been piling up in the Middle East ever since.
But although Bush infamously asserted that he was a "war president” he at least he had the constitutional respect, minimal as it was, to seek the approval of Congress before taking unilateral military action. We call on Congress to assert their authority.
It may be consistent with his tough guy "only I can do it" posture, but the action of Donald Trump to unilaterally bomb another country, without allies, without congressional authorization, can only be characterized as the act of a king.
"Oh, it was just a limited attack," defenders of this act of war are saying. There is no such thing as a limited act of war, no more than someone could be slightly pregnant.
President Obama was elected on the platform of getting us out of the Middle East. Next thing we knew he was busting up Libya with Hillary Clinton leading the policy charge. OK, technically that's Africa, not the Middle East, so no incongruity there we suppose.
Now here comes Donald Trump, who incessantly harangued President Obama on twitter not to intervene in Syria a couple years ago. And less than 100 days in office he has done a complete 180 and now has made it his personal jihad to change the regime in Syria.
Its regime change 3.0. Oh boy, here we go again.
Trump says it's because Assad used chemical weapons that he has done this about face.
Yes, it is criminal and sick that any government would produce chemical weapons let alone use them, on declared enemies let alone their own people, let alone indiscriminately on small children.
But Assad has killed a half a million people mostly with so-called barrel bombs and conventional weapons, and they are just as dead, and died as horribly, as the 80 or so from this last attack.
But the real question is as Tom Brokaw said the U.S. missile strike against a Syrian air base is “the easy part; the real question is what comes next, such as the possibility of ground troops.”
It appears that our emotions are being manipulated by the media, in just the same propaganda way that all wars are promoted to start them. Remember the phony stories from the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington, about babies being dumped out of their incubators (In truth she hadn't been in Kuwait at the time) on to the cold floor that was supposed to justify the first Iraq war? It's always about the babies, isn't it? Nothing arouses the lust for war more in America than dead babies, as long we're not stopping them at the border and accusing them of being secret terrorists.
By the way, we have no doubt that Assad has used chemical weapons. Every time people die from them he trots out the story that he just dropped conventional bombs, that happened to hit a rebel chemical weapons cache, and that's what released the gas. What has he got, laser guided munitions that home in on sarin like a blood hound? How come people only die like this when Assad is bombing?
Such a farfetched scenario as magic bombs finding rebel poison gas can't be true every time. Experts tell us that the fireball from a bomb would be as likely to destroy chemical weapons as to disperse them. Therefore, Assad has essentially admitted that he has and uses chemical weapons.
So the rest of the civilized world has to do something. The one thing that will not work is for Commander Quick Draw to go barging in all by himself, without full congressional endorsement even. The so-called Bush coalition of the willing was a cynical PR ploy. Salon.com columnist Laura McClure, noting the large amounts of foreign aid being offered in exchange for supporting the Iraq War, referred to Bush's coalition as the "Coalition of the billing" While a British activist described it as a "coalition of the shilling"
Trump doesn't even bother with that pretense. The 3 guys from Palau can sit this one out.
Senator Graham crows that there is a new sheriff in town. In the Wild West sense a new sheriff MADE the law. Many committed their own criminal acts in the process, but what is a sheriff to do, round up himself?
So it is with Trump. The constitution does not matter. International law, the only real hope for world peace, does not matter. There is just the new crazy sheriff maximally provoking the crazies on the other side.
Graham said something else. He said for Assad to get planes back in the air from the same base immediately was, he actually said this on national television, an "F" you to Trump.
Make it plain, Graham. This is all just sexual machismo, isn't it? You know, locker room talk, a Trump specialty, bragging on the world stage about his erection in the form of shooting off $100 million dollars’ worth of cruise missiles.
In 1990, Dick Cheney said the reason he did not push on in the first Gulf war to taking Baghdad was that it would destabilize everything. And that's exactly what he proceeded to do in 2003, big time, by doing exactly what he said should not be done.
And history is repeating itself, once again. Trump, Mr. “Don't even think about making war in Syria”, is hot to trot now to do it all by himself, anything to save the failing ratings of his new White House reality TV show.
"I alone can do it" means there is no law but the word of Trump, the new sheriff. He will have to learn the hard way, like every arrogant commander in chief before him, at our own dear expense in lives and treasure, that for all its military hardware America, let alone one man, cannot singlehandedly impose anything on the Middle East, as if we have in the end learned nothing from the last 15 years.
Shouldn’t we demand a congressional vote on the authority of Trump to attack on
Syria? Maybe we can get more people to speak out this time.
Can one of KellyAnne Conway’s “anonymous sources” confirm that a guy named Vladimir P is none too happy about the way the guy he backed in the election turned out.
In the meantime, We the People respectfully pause for a moment of silence to mark the death of the Constitution of the United States, may it rest in peace.
Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein are apparently all peachy keen with Trump acting as a total dictator. It was left to Senator Chris Murphy to object that Trump can do any unilateral thing he wants going forward if Congress does not stand up for itself now, and its exclusive prerogative to declare war.
We are told that they, and certain other congressional so-called leaders, were given advance notice of Trump's intent to bomb a Syrian military airbase. Of course they couldn't tell anyone else even if they wanted to, let alone have their constituents weigh in on whether they wanted a military escalation.
Oh, except Trump told the Russians, who are close allies of . . . wait for it . . . Assad, that we're about to launch some Tomahawks at that exact particular airbase. Wow, great big top secret! Had to keep it all hush, hush, NOT. If there was such a thing as a Kabuki farce, this is it.
But if all these members of Congress were OK with bombing Assad, why not have Congress actually vote to authorize the use of military force?
Just speaking of the Republicans, would they not vote en masse the party line to back up their new war president? So what's the big problem with having a vote?
And if there is to be none, everyone who does not object, and we mean EVERYONE, just signed up for being ruled by a totalitarian dictator, by default.
Moreover, we do not delude ourselves that Hillary Clinton, who also voiced her strong approval, had she been elected, would have done anything even slightly different.
Senator Mitch McConnell, that snake in the guise of man, said that of course he would have officially authorized President Obama to do the same thing Trump just did, not that he's interested in a vote even now.
McConnell, Mr. “Block Everything Obama”, would not have approved giving away free ice cream at President Obama's own personal expense, and we all know it.
But in fact President Obama DID ask, the Republican Congress after the August 31, 2013 chemical attack for authorization and they voted No!
Mendacious McConnell head of the Senate. No wonder people have lost faith in government.
To the extent this attack is being described euphemistically as a "pinprick," that only shot off about a $100 million dollars in cruise missiles by the way. A pinprick next week would have accomplished the same objective, assuming there was a strategic objective, and would have given time to demonstrate that Congress fully stands behind the commander in chief.
Maybe it's being called a pinprick because it had little real military effectiveness. It's like we're not supposed to see the pictures of intact planes in more or less intact bunkers. The same airbase had those planes in the air again the next day, notwithstanding a couple pock marks in some runways. One newscaster actually commented that he was not seeing a lot of damage, which the military "expert" he was interviewing then tried to explain away by noting these were only 1000 lb. warheads.
In fact, the bombing in Syria accomplished nothing but a dubious photo op in support of the image of our current White House resident as a tough guy, strong man.
But we now know that this is an all-publicity-no-policy Trump administration coddled by a disingenuous Congress.
(Michael N. Cohen is a former board member of the Reseda Neighborhood Council, founding member of the LADWP Neighborhood Council Oversight Committee, founding member of LA Clean Sweep and occasional contributor to CityWatch.)