The ‘age of stupid’ is the only term I can think of for framing this ongoing nonsense.
President Trump and members of his administration have taken the questionable approach of stating outright that the US will respond severely if the Syrian government carries out another chemical attack on civilians.
More than that, it is insisting that Damascus is planning said attack and claims to have proof of this.
The White House claimed to have identified “potential preparations” for a chemical attack by the Syrian government and warned that a heavy price would be paid for any such attack. Unsurprisingly by now, no evidence has been provided by Washington to support the claims.
The White House has simply spoken about “potential preparations” for another chemical incident on par with the April 2017 incident in Khan Shaikhun, which led to President Trump’s unintentionally comedic speech about the “beautiful, beautiful babies” and resulted in the US carrying out a mostly symbolic attack on a Syrian airfield.
Of course, we should remind ourselves that no real evidence of the Assad regime’s guilt in that instance was provided. The investigation that the UN Security Council called for never manifested, neither did the OPCW probe that was called for.
Nevertheless, the Trump administration is now doubling down on its position, with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer warning President Bashar al-Assad that “he and his military will pay a heavy price” if another chemical incident occurs.
What is fascinating about this approach to the situation is the fact that we have now moved into pure pantomime, with no real effort being made any more to craft convincing arguments or even convincing false-flags. The game is now so lazy and cynical that Washington literally doesn’t have to bother waiting for a staged incident to be carried out and then react to it – Trump can simply say ‘This is what Assad is going to do shortly – and when he does, this is how we’re going to treat it’.
It’s a weird mixture of predictive programming and unalloyed imperialist arrogance. And one that of course entirely bypasses the serious doubts over the reality of that chemical incident in April.
The case for that incident having been a deliberate chemical attack by the Syrian government hasn’t yet been convincingly made: and the evidence for the Assad regime supposedly “making preparations” now for another chemical attack hasn’t been presented either.
If Assad carrying out the attack in April made no sense (in terms of it being utterly polar opposite to his interests), the idea that Damascus would now be “making preparations” for another identical attack even after President Trump’s response to the last one is just the height of absurdity.
For this to be true, Bashar Assad would have to be the dumbest president in world history.
What all of this staged pantomime is about is probably simple: the Trump administration is simply signalling US-backed ‘rebels’ in Syria to go ahead and stage another chemical attack.
We’ve seen all of this coming, of course.
In April, after the Idlib incident, I wrote the following: ‘The situation, as it now stands, is this: following the US strike on the Syrian airbase, whoever it is that carried out the chemical attack knows that President Trump has committed to punishing the Syrian government for any chemical attack – this means all they have to do is keep staging chemical attacks and, via the White Helmets, having CNN and various media outlets run with the ‘Assad, the Butcher’ narrative, the US will be forced to act against Damascus…’
‘Whatever the real reason was that Trump took the bait, he has now set the precedent by which he can be forced into sanctioning military action against the Syrian state. He simply loses all credibility now if he *doesn’t* attack Syria the next time a chemical incident occurs… But given how successful this latest operation has been – on the part of both the rebels in Idlib and their Western friends like Nikki Haley – it is now highly likely it will be done again. That may be what all involved parties are hoping for.‘
And so now what we have is the Trump administration basically saying to the rebels, ‘okay, go ahead and do your part – we’re waiting’.
That’s what I wrote in April; and, like a lot of people, I’ve been watching since then to see if the scenario is repeated. Instead, the White House has simply jumped ahead of that and said *it’s going to happen* and we are going to blame it on the Syrian government.
Funnily enough, the White House’s renewed Syrian machinations seemed to coincide with an article by the renowned journalist Seymour Hersh, whose conversations with insiders continues to cast major doubts over the White House’s version of the April chemical incident.
For all President Trump’s and Ambassador Nikki Haley’s staged theatrics in April, Hersh reveals that American military and intelligence officials were – behind the scenes – very doubtful about the claims.
In an article published by German news outlet Die Welt, Hersh explains that Trump had been “warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon… Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president’s determination to ignore the evidence. ‘None of this makes any sense,’ one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. ‘We KNOW that there was no chemical attack…”
On the subject of Seymour Hersh, it is worth noting that – presumably – no American media outlet was willing to publish his piece, forcing him to seek Die Welt instead. The Pulitzer-Prize winning Hersh – one of the most celebrated and respected journalists in US history – has been essentially blacklisted by American publications, including some of the same publications that once sang his praises. All of his work in recent years – including exposes on Benghazi and the CIA’s arms smuggling to Syrian rebels – has been ignored by mainstream US platforms, with some even calling Hersh’s integrity and even sanity into question.
In this specific instance, it is curious that a US media that seems mostly hungry for anti-Trump journalism has nevertheless been unwilling to work with Hersh when it comes to exposing the spurious basis for the missile strikes on Syria in April.
This is, of course, because those Tomahawk missile launches were the one time so far in Trump’s presidency that most of the mainstream US media was suddenly on Trump’s side and singing his praises.
As was noted by many, the mainstream US media response to Trump’s actions in April was extraordinary, with much of it bordering on celebration. Mainstream commentators and news presenters were practically revelling in the show of military strength. And Donald Trump – an ego-driven, temperamental character – would’ve presumably enjoyed that brief moment of approval from people who are usually trying to bring him down or cripple his presidency.
It has always stuck in my mind that when Bill Clinton was being impeached back in the late 90s (1998, was it?), his go-to place of temporary relief was to call for random, arbitrary bombing of Baghdad and playing the ‘look-at-me-I’m-dealing-with-Saddam-Hussein’ card.
If pressure, or even impeachment prospects, mounts against Trump, the likelihood is that he will go to military action abroad as the same dick-waving display that has already worked well once – followed again by the mainstream news anchors and commentators forming what is essentially a masturbation circle live-on-air and glorying in the splendor of the military-industrial-complex.
Hersh’s article also agrees with the prediction I made here back in April – specifically that the ‘rebels’ in Syria now have every incentive to stage further chemical attacks, knowing that the Trump administration has put itself in a position where it has to now respond the same way as it did in April.
One of Hersh’s alleged inside sources (specified to be a senior adviser to the US intelligence community) is quoted as saying, “The Salafists and jihadists got everything they wanted out of their hyped-up Syrian nerve gas ploy… The issue is, what if there’s another false flag sarin attack credited to hated Syria? Trump will have no choice but to bomb again, and harder. He’s incapable of saying he made a mistake.”
The question becomes whether the ‘heavy price’ Assad is made to pay when another chemical attack occurs is something similar to the negligible assault on the air field in April or whether it proves to be something more serious. Another chemical attack could essentially signal a final US intervention to push through regime-change.
If so, it would simply demonstrate what I wrote after the April incident: that it really doesn’t matter which temporary figure happens to be in the White House at any given time – preexisting agendas will always find a way to play themselves out.