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April 8, 2017


When Trump sent 59 Tomahawks into a third-rate airfield in Syria, the Lindsays, McCains, and other hawks rejoiced and the Boltons, neoliberals and defense contractors were ecstatic. The good old Bush-Cheney days are here again, substituting babies for WMDs.

Petroleum got into the act as the futures market went straight up only a few hours after Trump made his scripted speech in which he said he was sending a message to Assad for his baby murders with a banned gas, probably sarin, and now, a few days later, the airfield is operational again. Syrian jets are taking off from there and are deliberately targeting the same area where they gassed the babies to see if Trump wants to do something more than play tough guy with his scripted for television act, a useless exercise that doesn’t even rise to symbolism and one that cost 30 million dollars, money that would bring a lot of Syrian babies to this country – to which Trump objects. Weird logic, as in I’ll go to war to save the babies but they are not welcome in this country. What?

Gasoline is certain to go up in price for all of us as we help pay for Trump’s caper as commander in chief, and his one and done shot in Syria will be of great help to Putin, who presides over a very large country but with an economy smaller than that of Italy. Putin has been having some problems of his own with Russians in the street demanding an end to corruption and thievery of the nation’s resources by him and his chosen oligarchs. The Russian economy has been tanking due to such thievery and American sanctions, but with higher oil prices Putin will have more resources to invest in the poorly performing Russian economy (or send to the Bank of Cyprus for laundering and reinvestment around the world with layers of trust so as to avoid detection of such thievery).

More money and the prospect of a removal of American sanctions bode well for the murdering dictator and, of course, for ISIS, which will now recruit many more fighters to resist the American intrusion after the Tomahawk strike, a strike that did nothing to end the war or Assad’s grip on power. Trump did his thing by impulse; neither he nor his advisers thought this caper through all the political ripples sure to come from such a brazen act. They just did it without benefit of considered strategy, and we have no idea of what’s coming next if more Syrian babies are gassed, and worse, neither do they. The chaos of the White house has now been exported to the Pentagon and foggybottom by a clueless commander in chief who is about as inspirational as Elmer Fudd. Putin could not have written a better script.

Some of our allies are complimenting Trump on his “decisiveness” and some in our congress are saying that he now looks “presidential.” I do not agree. I think there is no coherent policy or strategic plan on what to do after the Tomahawk caper, that it was for “show” and that there is no Plan B. I have a darker view of why this happened, and I do not think it has anything to do with babies. After all, murdering dictators like Putin assassinates members of the media and members of the opposition by bullets and poison and Assad has already been responsible for killing 400,000 of his fellow Syrians, many of whom were babies and who are just as dead as those recently gassed. I have another view of Trump’s motivation.

Trump has no record of empathy and I, for one, do not therefore believe (as he said) that he was moved to action by watching gassed babies on television. I think he was instead desperate to change the subject from the investigation of his campaign with Putin and seized on the baby murders to cover his real motivation while pretending to care for these murdered children. I concede that he has done a good job of it, as the investigations (which he calls witch hunts) have faded into the background while our (useless and counterproductive) attack has captured the headlines. I note, however, that a leopard cannot change his spots; neither can he lie about them and see them go away. He is what he is and always has been, a bigoted bully who lives part time in our world and part in his fantasyland.

I think, finally, that this thoughtless attack was not designed to send a message to Assad or Putin; I think rather it was a warning shot across the bow of the American people to see how much authoritarianism at the executive level without congressional approval we can take, and if we do nothing such will be an invitation to commit more authoritarian travesties (as counseled by Bannon in his “destruction of the administrative state” fantasy) until we wake up some day and find that our democracy has evaporated while we slept. I recommend that we stay awake – wide awake with this wannabe dictator at the helm.       GERALD


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