Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Trump Bombs Syria — and His Base

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When President Donald Trump ordered military strikes on Syria Friday, “he bombed his base,” declared radio host Michael Savage.

“Everything we have voted for,” Savage said, “just went up in smoke.”

Savage is hardly alone among (former?) Trump supporters in feeling betrayed by the man who promised a scaling back of U.S. military interventionism under the banner of “America First.” Indeed, it seems the only people happy with Trump these days are his erstwhile critics such as Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former Obama State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter.

Curiously, a significant amount of the opposition to Syrian intervention is to be found on Trump’s favorite cable news channel, Fox News, the network that cheered on every one of President George W. Bush’s military forays.

Tucker Carlson led the charge, spending the better part of last week railing against the propaganda being used to drum up war fever and chastising Trump for reversing himself on a dime. “Overthrowing Assad’s regime in Syria would result in chaos,” he maintained. “Many thousands would die. In fact we might likely see the genocide of one of the last remaining Christian communities in the Middle East and we ought to care about that.”

Carlson also posed the questions that every American should have been asking: “Would it make America safer? Would it make the region more stable? Let’s see, how exactly did regime change work in Iraq and Libya?”

Laura Ingraham, too, had harsh words for Trump’s war. “I guess it feels good because there are horrible things happening there,” she said Friday night. “But what do we really accomplish here tonight in Syria? This is not why Donald Trump got elected.”

In addition, she came out swinging against Trump’s former deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka, when he insisted America had to act in Syria. Ingraham pointed out that the U.S. government is broke and can’t afford any more wars. Then, when Gorka claimed America’s “founding documents” practically demanded “we take this action,” Ingraham shot back, “I think we can all pull out quotes from the framers about foreign entanglements” — a remark that would never have occurred to, let alone escaped the lips of, most conservative commentators a decade ago.

Even Tomi Lahren — who the Daily Caller notes “makes a surprising critic, considering that she has expressed support for nearly all of Trump’s actions” — joined the chorus. In a video for Fox News, Lahren said the Syrian civil war “isn’t our battle.”

“How many times will we keep sticking our fingers in the fire before we realize that spreading democracy in the Middle East does NOT work?” she asked. “How many times must we attempt to pick winners and losers in civil and tribal wars we do NOT understand?”

“President Trump, please remember: It’s America First,” she pleaded.

In short, the foreign policy that made former Congressman Ron Paul “a pariah in 2008 and 2012” and got him “denounced by all of his fellow Republican presidential contenders” is now the mainstream view among the GOP base, observes the Daily Caller:

Trump’s criticism of hawkish foreign policy — argued under the mantle of America First and delivered in bellicose language — made non-interventionism more palatable for Republican voters. Average Republicans had witnessed two disastrous interventions in Iraq and Libya, and they were willing to vote for someone who promised a change.

Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo, while opposed to Trump’s Syria actions, nevertheless finds much to celebrate in the Right’s response to them:

While the left hails the Trumpist turn toward “humanitarian intervention,” the right is increasingly “isolationist,” i.e., committed to a policy of minding our own damned business and solving our many problems right here at home. This is the opening I’ve been talking about for many years, the great switching of polarities that occurs every 40 years or so: and now it is upon us, brought about by an accidental figure — Trump — who nevertheless unleashed forces he neither understands nor controls.

“The ‘deplorables,’” Raimondo contends, “had to go through this betrayal before they could begin to understand the real nature of US foreign policy — and the fact that the War Party is their greatest enemy.”

Americans have met the enemy. Now how are they going to defeat it?

Image: Screenshot from a Ratheon advertisement

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