On Thursday, President Trump, who campaigned largely as a candidate opposed to unnecessary foreign intervention, authorized a missile attack against Syria. As retaliation for a gas attack allegedly carried out by the Syrian government, U.S. warships fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase, reportedly killing six people.
Trump has been relentlessly attacked by the mainstream media since taking office, yet in the wake of this unexpected escalation of the Syrian crisis, major news and media networks responded with unmitigated support. In fact, the top five newspapers ran a total of 18 opinion-editorial pieces, and not a single one was critical.
Trump has waged an ideological war against the mainstream news networks and newspapers since taking office and has received consistent scorn from the neo-liberal media establishment. But as usual, we find a rare instance of unified bipartisan support when it comes to war. The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Daily Newsallocated no space in their papers for a negative opinion of the missile strike.
Meanwhile, MSNBC’s Brian Williams described the firing missiles as beautiful, using the word three times and evoking a lyric from a Leonard Cohen song. On CNN, Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN‘s “GPS,” suspended his usual critique of the president to applaud the move, going so far as to say the missile strike had the effect of officially making Trump president.
“For the first time really as president, he talked about international norms, international rules, about America’s role in enforcing justice in the world,”Zakaria said, describing Trump’s remarks on the attack.
While some U.S. allies expressed support for the missile strike, other countries were apoplectic. Russia called it a “flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression” against Syria. North Korea has openly denounced America’s act of war, calling it “an unforgivable act of aggression against a sovereign state.”
There was another group that expressed overwhelming dislike of Trump’s act: his base. While the neo-liberal and neo-conservative Washington consensus shared a rare moment of unity — with the usual bipartisan love of perpetual war in the Middle East — many of Trump’s supporters took to popular alt-right sites like Infowars and Breitbart over the weekend to excoriate Trump’s ‘misguided’ chess move, which many of them viewed as evidence that Trump was manipulated by holdovers from the Bush and Obama administrations. More
More high-profile Trump supporters, like Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopolous, Katie Hopkins, right-wing vlogger Paul Joseph Watson, and many bloggers from Alex Jones’ Infowars network strongly criticized Trump’s seismic reversal of foreign policy.
Some, including Russia’s leader, Putin himself, believe he was manipulated by — or the author of — a false flag attack; others merely contend he was convinced to use war as a lever to increase his popularity and win points with the political establishment.
Regardless of which explanation you use (even if you think Trump really did it based on geopolitical altruism), few things sound less like “America First” than spending tax dollars to bomb a Syrian airfield.
And if Trump’s abandonment didn’t sting enough, his supporters’ arch-nemesis, Hillary Clinton, had preemptively offered her support for a strike against Syria earlier that day.
For students of the neo-conservative agenda that has been playing out for nearly two decades now, the push for war with Syria is far from surprising. In fact, shortly after his election, I predicted Trump supporters would experience the same fall from grace that anti-war Obama supporters stomached early in his administration: the realization that this country is locked in an unending war against the Middle East. Wesley Clark’s now-legendary breakdown of how the United States would invade seven countries in five years continues to look like the bona fide blueprint of an unstoppable war empire. And Syria — whose central bank is state-owned, who owes no IMF debt, and who has dropped the petrodollar — is on the list.
Is Trump just the latest populist president to be conscripted into the Deep State’s bloody chess match of economic imperialism? With our invasions and military operations in Iraq and Libya and continued operations seemingly both for and against ISIS in Syria, the cost, both in terms of money and lives, has been staggering.
Yet, Politico reports that a majority of Americans support the Syrian strike. But remember the five newspapers that devoted zero space to anti-war opinion. Remember that this is a sacred ritual of the military-industrial complex that, like most U.S. foreign policy, is carefully presented and curated by the mainstream news (a manufactured consensus), which, during times of war, becomes veritable state-run media.
When it comes to war and regime change in the Middle East, has the anti-war left switched places with the alt-right? And does the same political and media establishment that hates Trump really adore his first war crime? It’s a nauseating bizarro universe, but at the moment, it’s the only conclusion one can draw.