The list of Trump supporters who have come out publicly to condemn the recent US missile attack on Syria has just got bigger and indeed weightier.
Pat Buchanan who was a strong Trump supporter and particularly in the area of foreign policy, has just authored a piece conveying his dismay over the attack on Syria and its long term implications for the Trump Presidency and for US goals in the Middle East.
Buchanan said quite aptly that the American people are not behind going to war with Syria and that it could do serious damage to Trump and to US interests.
“A Syrian war would consume Trump’s presidency. Are we ready for that? How would we win such a war without raising a large army and sending it back into the Middle East?
Another problem: Trump’s missile attack was unconstitutional. Assad had not attacked or threatened us, and Congress, which alone has the power to authorize war on Syria, has never done so.
Indeed, Congress denied President Obama that specific authority in 2013”.
Buchanan agreed with many, that Trump’s primary motivation was seeing photos of severely injured babies, something which crossed a ‘red line’ personally for Trump.
Buchanan then lays out the case which has been laid out many times before, that in spite of the harrowing images, there is always more than meets the eye. Buchanan’s case against going to war over the heartbreaking scenes is summarised as follows:
–Assad had zero strategic reason to do something that would snatch defeat from the hands of victory .
–It was likely a false flag incident similar to the one 2013 false flag attack in Ghouta.
–Assad is protecting his country which he has the right to do and what’s more, that includes protecting Christians from the clutches of death represented by Salifst jihadist forces, aka, the moderate head chopping rebels.
Buchanan makes an obvious point that is totally ignored in western mainstream media, that all of the parties currently fighting in Syria have a tangible goal. The US by contrast, did not, does not and will not. Buchanan defined these goals in the following way.
“We have no vital national interest in Syria’s civil war. It is those doing the fighting who have causes they deem worth dying for. For ISIS, it is the dream of a caliphate. For al-Qaida, it is about driving the Crusaders out of the Dar al Islam. For the Turks, it is, as always, about the Kurds. For Assad, this war is about his survival and that of his regime. For Putin, it is about Russia remaining a great power and not losing its last naval base in the Med. For Iran, this is about preserving a land bridge to its Shiite ally Hezbollah. For Hezbollah it is about not being cut off from the Shiite world and isolated in Lebanon”.
Perhaps though the most important aspect of Buchanan’s piece is what he did not say.
Buchanan started his front line political career as a close adviser to Richard Nixon. Buchanan probably has a better understanding of the mechanics and goals of the deeply misunderstood Nixon White House than any living political commentator.
Many pundits trying to salvage some hopes for Donald Trump are alluding to the idea that there is a Nixonian quality to his newly adopted hawkish foreign policy. The implication that in engaging in geo-political brinkmanship, the end goal is to bring others, including Russia to the ‘reconciliation table’ or after Syria which is from a geo-political point of view, more serious than the Cuban Missile Crisis, bring Russia and others to the ‘peace table’.
Some go so far as to say that in attacking Syria under clearly false pretences, Trump is readying to go to war with the CIA and wider deep state at a later date for giving him ‘bad intelligence’ about President Assad.
These theories have always struck me as unlikely.
First of all, Trump does not strike me as the kind of cunning, strategic thinker that Nixon was. For everything Nixon was, he was not stupid and not crazy. He may have been the most intelligent of all contemporary US Presidents. Trump is simply not that kind of man and never particularly pretended to be.
Secondly, Nixon inherited a deeply sophisticated geo-political chessboard set up by his predecessors. The fact that he ended up engaging in détente with the Soviet Union, opening up diplomatic channels with Beijing and winding down the disastrous war in Vietnam, was simply an indication that he was a far better chess player than most of his Cold War predecessors.
By contrast, Trump inherited an ideological and corporatist driven foreign policy that made liberal interventionists and neocons happy and a select few very rich, but it did nothing to enhance America’s prestige nor galvanise the wider world behind US power. It had the opposite effect, it made America look both foolish and incompetent as well as dangerously irresponsible.
Lastly, where Nixon made the world safer from a war between superpowers, the legacy of Barack Obama has done the opposite.
Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best. The reality behind Trump’s move is probably a combination of the following
–Trump wanted to get the deep state, neo-cons, Democrats and mainstream media off his back and thought this would be an effective way to do so. In the short term it was.
–Trump was made an offer he couldn’t refuse by a deep state that is more sinister than many could imagine.
–Trump is stupid enough to believe the bogus intelligence about Assad that he was given.
Buchanan would have almost certainly been the first and most compelling individual to make parallels with Nixon if he saw any. Instead, he has drawn parallels with Bush and Obama. It does not look good for those who think there is a calculated method in Trump’s apparent madness.
That, like the idea that any modern POTUS could resist the deep state is looking increasingly like wishful thinking.