After unleashing over 100 missiles on Syria at the weekend, the US, Britain and France strained to declare self-righteousness in the name of the “international community”.
The strain comes from the fact that the three attacking nations are not the international community. They are acting above the law and have no moral authority – despite their declarations of righteousness.
Their steely resolve is not so steely as they would like to project. There were mixed messages whether this was a one-off show of force, or whether there is more offensive force on the way.
The fact that a US aircraft carrier strike group is on its way to the Mediterranean – due to arrive next week – suggests that a full-blown war may be on the cards. There again, the American, French and British leaders showed signs of trepidation by trying to reassure that the strikes at the weekend were “mission accomplished”.
A major problem is the three NATO aggressors are not sure about what they are getting into in Syria, how far they can push their offensive, and what the consequences are. Russia has warned of grave consequences, so has Syria and Iran, who all denounced the military strikes as aggression.
One weakness – despite the bravado – is that the capricious American lead-aggressor seems to be suffering from some kind of mental disorder, which must make the hoops and hurdles following this leader rather tortuous for the British and French lackeys.
The British and French are doing what they usually do as well-trained vassals. By backing American plans for a military strike on Syria, the NATO trio then acquires an image of plurality which they preposterously refer to as the “international community” – thus giving a veneer of moral authority to what in reality is nothing but a clique of imperialist rogue regimes waging aggressive war.
US President Donald Trump talked tough earlier this week warning Syria and its ally Russia that “missiles were coming”. Trump condemned Russian leader Vladimir Putin for supporting “gas-killing animal” Bashar al-Assad. He was referring to the alleged chemical weapons incident near Damascus last weekend, for which there is no evidence apart from dubious propaganda videos released by anti-government militants.
Then, taking their cue, the dutiful British and French rowed in behind Trump’s belligerence. Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May held a two-hour national security summit in Downing Street, concluding that Britain would join military strike plans “coordinated with the international community” – meaning the US and France.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron upped the ante by declaring publicly he had “proof that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against civilians”. Macron didn’t substantiate his claim of proof. But the logic dictated that the supposed “proof” justified military action against Syria.
The British and French leaders are engaging in an unseemly competition to see which one will be American leader’s top lieutenant for any full-blown war on Syria.
Traditionally, that role goes to Britain due to its much-vaunted “special relationship” with Washington going back to the early Cold War years against the Soviet Union.
But much to the chagrin of the current British rulers, France’s Macron has emerged as Trump’s “go-to guy” in Europe, as Bloomberg put it. Trump reportedly views Macron as more reliable than Britain’s May.
After the alleged chemical incident on April 7 in Douma near Damascus – an incident which Syria and Russia have dismissed as a fabrication – the American president was immediately on the phone to his French counterpart for advice. Macron reportedly shared intelligence with Trump that allegedly implicated the Syrian army.
Trump quickly adopted a belligerent position claiming “women and children dead in barbaric atrocity”. He blamed the Syrian leader Assad and Russia, and warned there would be “a big price to pay”.
It was two days later that Trump finally phoned British premier Theresa May to consult with her on what action to take on Syria. That delay led to apprehension in British media that France was displacing the “special relationship”.
The trouble for the sycophants is that with Trump it is a conundrum to anticipate or discern his thinking.
Within hours of his reckless threat to Syria and Russia of “missiles coming”, Trump appeared to make a remarkable U-turn, saying that a military strike may not happen after all.
This caprice is not Trump being shrewdly mercurial, or keeping his adversaries guessing. It’s more a case of Trump once again showing his immaturity, impetuousness and what many social media commentators are claiming is a mental instability akin to some form of bipolar condition.
Examples of Trump’s mental instability are legion. Only last week, before the alleged chemical attack, he surprised even his inner circle at the White House with an announced intention to withdraw all US troops from Syria “very soon”. That outburst was hurriedly smothered by hawkish aides and pundits telling the president to get a grip.
Then, days later, after the alleged chemical incident, Trump was all gung-ho to shoot up Syria, even at the risk of starting World War III.
Trump’s embrace of the military option stood in stark contradiction to his vehement exhortation to former President Barack Obama back in 2013, when Trump warned Obama to not launch military strikes on Syria following another dubious chemical-weapon incident in Eastern Ghouta.
It’s hardly an exaggeration to say the real-estate-tycoon-turned president has the attention span of a goldfish. White House aides confide that if he can sustain a policy position from morning until the afternoon, then that’s a good day.
Away from Syria for a moment, one other example of Trump’s fragile decision-making come from reports this week that he is now asking his economic advisors if they can find a way for the US to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This was the trade pact with the Asian Pacific Rim nations that Trump tore up during the first days of taking office in January 2017. Trump huffed that it was the worst deal ever. Now, however, it turns out that he wants back into the trade pact prompted by the sudden alarm that American farm exports may be vulnerable to Chinese counter-tariffs.
As noted, this isn’t so much Trump being smart or cleverly cryptic. It’s Trump being short-sighted, impetuous, not to say irrational. One can hardly take anything he says seriously or reliably. He is apt to change his mind on a dime.
Trump has ordered a US Navy carrier strike group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman, towards Syria. His earlier warnings of a massive military strike on Syria may indeed go ahead, possibly when the armada arrives in the East Mediterranean next week.
The whole chemical-weapon narrative is a ruse to provide pretext for a US-led attack on Syria. Perhaps Trump genuinely has been duped by his own military intelligence working as they do with the Syrian regime-change terrorist proxies.
French President Macron appears to be equally duped, with his bombastic assertions of having “proof”. Either Macron is duped or a liar, because in all probability a chemical-weapons attack was not carried out by the Syrian army. If there was an incident it was mostly likely a false-flag propaganda stunt carried out by the CIA, MI6 and DGSE-backed terror groups against innocent civilians.
The irrationality of Trump, Macron and May’s position is betrayed by Pentagon chief James Mattis telling the US Congress as late as Thursday that “we are looking for the actual evidence”.
Under the headline, “Pentagon urges greater caution on imminent strike against Syria,” The New York Times reported: “Defense Secretary James Mattis demanded evidence of the Syrian government’s role in a suspended chemical attack to justify military action.”
How’s that for self-indictment. Trump, Macron and May are lining up the “international community” for a war on Syria, possibly exploding into a world war with Russia, and yet the Pentagon’s top commander admits “there is no evidence” for justifying the alleged “retaliation” over chemical weapons.
That’s not to say that the Pentagon offers a chance for peace here. The regime-change plan in Syria predates Trump and is still no doubt on the board. The apparent difference with Mattis may be to do with tactics and timing of the plan to go to war. But his admission of no evidence is nevertheless damning.
Trump is, of course, increasingly being seen for what he is – a despicable charlatan with a moral compass without a needle. But what is equally repugnant is the way British and French leaders, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron, are spineless warmongering accessories.
The NATO trio of aggressors are affecting an air of resolve. But their affected image is not what it seems. They are projecting an image of strength, but as Syria, Russia and Iran hold firm, there is a strong sense that the NATO powers are insecure about where their belligerence is leading to.
A full-scale war may yet erupt. And if US, British or French warplanes start getting shot down, their supposed unified bravado will go into a tailspin.