TORONTO - There is a truism that, repeatedly, is forgotten when emotions are displace reason to justify aggression: “the first casualty of war is truth.”
Whose truth? It depends on the objectives and the consequences – cui bono, who profits. History suggests that there is no such thing as “objectivity” in issues of war.
Trump unilaterally decided to bomb a Syrian airfield to kingdom come – or hell, if you prefer. He did not seek Congressional approval, nor did he apparently ask for a “coalition of the willing” from any recognized international body of countries.
The alleged motivation was to punish the Syrian regime for killing civilians with nerve gas. The Civil War has been raging for 5 years, prompting at least 2.5 million refugees, countless deaths and destruction beyond the pale.
Some think that this display of strength and power is a good thing. The Centre for Research on Globalization, based in Montreal Canada, does not count itself among the cheerleaders. Citing studies authored by the UN Committee investigating the proliferation and use of chemical weaponry in the Syrian conflict, Prof. Michel Chassudovsky accuses Washington and the American Media of lying.
He goes on to say that the chemical weapons issue is a “false flag, a pretext and a justification to wage an illegal war of aggression”. He goes on to say that “there is no basis to the Trump accusations that the government of Bashar al Assad was involved in deliberately triggering a chemical weapons attack with a view to killing Syrian civilians”.
A BBC report, while accepting that five years ago the Syrian Army had the weapons and the potential to use them, further acknowledges that Daesh had captured stockpiles of that weaponry. Unlike the Syrian Army and its Russian Allies, Daesh is not even remotely related to international conventions and oversights on its military capacities.
Not surprisingly, Russia has sent some strong messages both condemning the air strike and supporting its client. Things are getting complicated. One hopes Trump’s team has thought through the entire process before there is an escalation of events and they spiral out of control.
The White House took pains to say that this is a “one off” event. So what was the purpose? Already reports counter-claim the impact of the 59 missiles on the functionality of the airport target. The Russians claim only 23 hit their intended targets. Planes are flying in and out.
Trump supporters still cheer this “show of strength”. Europeans give off rather tepid expressions of support. In other words, they won’t criticize … but they will not help. China characterizes the display as “stupid”.
A “professional” critique might even proffer that the “real target” was China. Its President was Trump’s host when the Americans launched the raid. The timing bordered on a veiled threat that China better co-operate on North Korea (and other matters) or the USA would do anything it wants. He wanted to give proof.
He may even have tired of the on-going setbacks in domestic affairs, and wanted to remind everyone that he is still “top dog”.
Trump snarled and bit because he could. The question is, did he and the US increase or restrict their options in so doing? So far, neither he nor his team have not demonstrated an ability to generate confidence in their competence.
Too bad. He is the Western World’s President, for good or for bad..