Whatever is to be said for Trump’s attack on the Syrian airfield – which isn’t much, in my opinion, since it was either an impulsive, “just do something” gesture or the beginning of another hopeless quagmire – it has already split his coalition.
The president’s populist, nationalist “America First” ranks were swift and unanimous in protest. On the more restrained end of the spectrum, Robert Merry, editor of The American Conservative, a “paleocon” magazine of isolationist bent, wrote, “It may be too early to tell for sure, but Donald Trump is looking more and more like a phony. He’s also looking like a weakling. And a political ingrate. All this is coming into stark relief with accelerating events involving Syria. . . .
“What does Trump owe to his constituency, the people who put him in office? Does he owe them a resolve to avoid getting enmeshed in yet another Mideast war, even in the wake of the horrendous chemical weapons attack in Syria?”
Of course anyone who didn’t realize the serial adulterer, grifter and crook of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. was a phony from the word “go” hasn’t been paying attention.
The unspeakable Milo Yiannopoulos crawled out from wherever he has been hiding since his downfall to pronounce the airstrike “FAKE and GAY” – a remarkably honest self-assessment.
Richard Spencer, America’s favorite clean-cut neo-Nazi, declared: “What Trump did was nothing less than a betrayal, a betrayal of his supporters, of his message ‘America First!,’ of his promise to be different — to learn from the mistakes of the past and chart a new course. I’ll wait and see, of course, but I’m not sure I can continue to support him. Most all of the alt-right feels the same way.”
On Saturday, Spencer and a handful of his followers rallied outside the White House to protest the missile attack. He addressed Trump more as a concerned supporter than as an enemy, fearing that the promise of his presidency is at risk.
Spencer carried a sign saying “No more neocon wars.” A goon behind him hoisted a placard saying “No more wars 4 Israel.” But one punk next to Spencer got right to the point: “Oy vey Jared. The goyim know.” Spencer was then surrounded by a throng of “antifa” attackers and ran away down the street.
It was lost on no one that Trump attacked Syria right after National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster got ideological guru Stephen Bannon bumped off the National Security Council. And Sunday morning, McMaster’s deputy, K.T. McFarland, a former Fox News talking head who came in with the disgraced Mike Flynn, got the boot and was sent off as ambassador to Singapore.
At this writing, Bannon may be at risk of being ousted from the White House altogether, unless he gets with the program and plays well with others.
Clearly the “grownups” – or globalists, neocons, interventionists, warmongers, imperialists, choose your label – have taken control of foreign and military policy. Anyone who believed Trump’s promises of non-intervention has been had, on this as on so many issues.
Among the many factors in Trump’s surprise victory, his positioning as the peace candidate has not been given enough weight, I suspect. Along with the sharp hike in Obamacare premiums right before the election, it may have been enough to tip the vote in a few key states.
Look at the casualty lists from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Name after name of white soldiers from the small towns of the South and Midwest, in the counties that Trump carried, in contrast to the conscript army of Vietnam.
Bush’s disastrous wars turned enough of these voters away from the Republicans to crush the party in the midterms of 2006 and the presidential election of 2008. Obama failed to extricate us completely from Bush’s wars, but at least he did not get us further involved with American ground troops.
Many voters, especially those whose sons and husbands are most likely to be sent into combat, probably feared that Hillary Clinton was more likely to get the body bags coming back again. And judging by her history and her approval for Trump’s action, echoed by other Democrats, their suspicion may have been correct.
The powers that be, if they have any sense, realize that the American people have no appetite for more land wars – hence Obama’s drone policy. If Trump betrays their hopes on this issue, as on “health care for all” and so many others, it is fearsome to speculate where they may turn next.