Donald Trump’s order to blast Syria with a barrage of Tomahawk missiles which resulted in the massacre of civilians, including children, was not only a criminal act of aggression. It seems to be aimed at defining a Trump Doctrine for his presidency. That doctrine could be labelled thus: shoot first and don’t dare ask any questions.
The world is being served notice that the US is a rogue state of the most reckless proportions.
Less facetiously, but no less seriously, Trump’s search for a presidential doctrine might be put as: zero tolerance for designated US enemies and international law.
Like all occupants of the White House before him, US presidents are customarily crowned with a specific doctrine that defines their foreign policy. The tradition goes back to President James Monroe who in 1823 bequeathed the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted American hegemony in Latin America as its «backyard» over European colonial interests.
More recently, the Bush Doctrine of GW Bush proclaimed that the US would unilaterally pursue its military interests to «go after terrorists» in any foreign country, in the wake of the 9/11 terror events.
Trump’s immediate predecessor Barack Obama promulgated the Obama Doctrine, which purportedly advocated cautious engagement to negotiate with foreign adversaries while retaining the right to use military power, best seen perhaps in the policy to seek diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program.
Trump’s would-be doctrine amplifies Bush’s unilateral pre-emptive military strike policy. Only days after the air strikes on Syria, Trump then orders an aircraft carrier battle group toward the Korean Peninsula, headed up by the USS Carl Vinson, as an explicit warning to North Korea.
Following the missile barrage on Syria last week, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said: «It sent a signal to not just Syria, but throughout the world».
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu caught the drift of rationale by remarking that Trump’s Tomahawks to Syria «will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere». The «elsewhere» is loaded with sinister implications.
Trump ordered the striking of a Syrian airbase with 59 cruise missiles «in response» to a chemical weapons incident two days before in Idlib province. The White House and the entire US media have asserted without the slightest question that chemical weapons were dropped by the Syrian air force on the town of Khan Sheikhoun – killing over 80 people. The White House even accused Russia of «complicity» in those deaths because of its military support for Syria.
Russian calls for a proper investigation into the chemical weapons incident were rebuffed by Washington – which proceeded to carry out the air strike with cruise missiles launched from two of its warships in the Mediterranean. The US claimed that the airbase at Shayrat was targeted because this was from where the Syrian warplanes had mounted the earlier raid on Khan Sheikhoun. According to Talal Barazi, the governor of Homs City near to the targeted airbase, some nine civilians, including four children, were killed in the US missile strikes. So much for Trump lamenting the deaths of «beautiful babies» at Khan Sheikhoun as the motive for his subsequent ordering of the US air strike.
In the aftermath of the US missile barrage, Russia’s deputy ambassador the United Nations, Vladimir Safronkov, said the US was blocking attempts to form an impartial investigation into the alleged chemical weapons incident at Khan Sheikhoun because it was «afraid» of the truth coming out. Safronkov earlier noted that the American claims of the Syrian government carrying out that attack were based entirely on «discredited sources» and dubious video images supplied from «media activists» affiliated with jihadist armed groups.
Since that incident, US and other Western media news outlets have wholly concluded without any hint of skepticism that it was the Syrian government forces who carried out the chemical weapons attack. The British government has, for example, accused Russia of «responsibility» in the civilian deaths, a claim underlined in the decision by foreign minister Boris Johnson to cancel a schedule official visit to Moscow this week.
With this monopolistic narrative prejudiced against the Syria government and its allies, the chances for an impartial investigation into the chemical weapons incident in Khan Sheikhoun have in effect been rendered void. As with the earlier notorious Sarin gas poisonings near Damascus in August 2013, the latest incident has become an article of faith that it was the Syrian forces of President Bashar al Assad who carried out the attack. Even though there is much evidence that the two events were actually carried out by the foreign-backed jihadists in a deliberate false flag smear to induce US military intervention.
President Trump has taken the bait where his predecessor Barack Obama balked back in 2013. Astoundingly, Trump’s brazen act of war last week was based on negligible evidence, save for video footage supplied by jihadist-connected media activists belonging to the discredited White Helmets.
But obvious, too, is that not only is Trump demonstrating that he is prepared to shoot first. In addition, the Trump administration, aided and abetted by the US media and allied governments, are making sure that no-one can dare to even ask questions later. The whole sordid act of aggression is a fait accompli.
Even though there are abundant glaring questions needing answers. The Syrian government says that it doesn’t have chemical weapons after the Russian-brokered decommissioning deal back in 2013. Syria’s disarmament was confirmed by the UN monitoring group the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Furthermore, the Syrian government says that it informed the OPCW only weeks ago that toxic chemicals for armaments were being transported inside Syria by the jihadist networks. That appears to have been confirmed recently by Kurdish rebels who said that the chemicals were being secretly supplied by the Turkish military. This is the same route by which the jihadists obtained Sarin for the similar 2013 attack in which hundreds of civilians were killed in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta.
Russian military accounts of the latest incident at Khan Sheikhoun are plausible. The Syrian air force carried out conventional strikes against jihadist groups in the vicinity, which resulted in the accidental leaking of toxic chemicals from weapons depots held by the militants. The latter may also have used the Syrian air strikes as cover for the deliberate release of toxins, which were then conveniently videoed for propaganda purpose – a purpose that succeeded, from their point of view, given Trump’s subsequent military orders.
It was no coincidence that Trump gave the Tomahawk strike order while he was entertaining Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Palm Beach resort in Florida on Thursday night. Trump reportedly informed the Chinese leader during dinner.
Minutes later, Trump publicly announced the impending air strikes on Syria. His words referred to Assad as a dictator whose behavior US policy had up to then «failed dramatically to change».
Only days before that, Trump had announced that the US was prepared to take unilateral military action against China’s ally North Korea if Beijing did not help in reigning in Kim Jung-Un’s nuclear weapons program. The US options reportedly include «decapitation» strikes against Pyongyang.
Hitting Syria in macho fashion, based on such reckless disregard for international law, has not only bought Trump much-needed kudos domestically, getting erstwhile political enemies to rally around the Commander-in-Chief and thereby quelling the allegations against him of being a Russian stooge.
Moreover, Trump is sending out a signal that he is prepared to use overwhelming military force on any regime that is designated an enemy, whether that be Syria, North Korea, China or even Russia.
The aircraft carrier strike group steaming toward the Korean Peninsula is the next act in the «mad man» Trump show of force. It is a chilling sign of «zero tolerance» to designated US enemies, as well as zero tolerance to evidence, facts, morals or international law.
The new Trump Doctrine is putting the world on notice that the US is a rogue state of the wildest proportions.