Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Gloom-And-Doom Mindset

     There’s been a lot of wailing and hand-wringing over President Trump’s missile strike against the Syrian airbase from which the recent Sarin gas attack was allegedly launched. There’ve also been some outright condemnations of his strike as a betrayal of his campaign pledges. Such lamentations are overwrought and misguided, as I hoped my DextroSpheric colleagues would have figured out for themselves. However, a significant number thereof haven’t figured it out.

     Sigh. And I had so hoped to take Palm Sunday off!

     War gases are considered weapons of mass destruction: i.e., weapons whose effects are large-scale and indiscriminate. American policy concerning such weapons is and has long been that their acquisition by lesser powers shall be strongly discouraged; their use shall not be permitted. Such a policy implies that uses of WMDs will be punished proportionately to the occurrence. The cruise-missile reprisal against the nominal source of the Sarin was perfectly consistent with that policy. I’d hoped that this essay would have illuminated the reasons such a policy is:

  • Prudent;
  • Forward-looking;
  • Yet does not commit the U.S. to war.

     Now, there are those who disagree with the policy. They’re entitled to do so, though their arguments strike me as unsound. But that it is the policy of the United States and has been so for decades cannot be denied. Barack Hussein Obama even conceded that with his famous “red line” remarks, though he lacked the moral fiber to follow through on them.

     President Trump acted on that policy according to the best information available to him. Those who disagree with the intelligence assessments on which he based his decision, like those who disagree with the policy itself, are entitled to their opinions. But such decisions have never been made (and never will be made) on the basis of a plebiscite. Like it or not, the president must trust that the information he’s offered by his military and intelligence advisors is reliable. Whether it is reliable is a separate question, which no one in my position should try to answer.

     The second noteworthy aspect of these events is that Trump acted promptly. He didn’t dither or vacillate. He did what he thought best and most consistent with U.S. policy. The contrast this makes with the Obama Administration is striking indeed.

     Just as it is for business, uncertainty is the great enemy of international peace. If a great power is known to be highly variable in its decisions and actions, to the point of complete unpredictability, the rest of world will be destabilized to some extent. Conditions in pre-World War I Europe provide a good comparison: Kaiser Wilhelm II, who commanded the strongest single military in the Old World, was notably wild and erratic. Had he been less so, the chances of a continent-absorbing war would have been lessened as well.

     The other powers of the First and Second Worlds are now aware that Trump will act decisively, at least when he believes he has the necessary facts in hand. America’s allies can consider themselves reassured of his commitment to longstanding American policy. America’s adversaries have been put on notice that he won’t refrain from a bold move just because some other power – e.g., the press – will disapprove.

     The third point relevant to the cruise-missile strike is that by taking that action specifically, President Trump averted all risk to American personnel. No American blood would be shed in the action. As American casualties are the greatest public-relations demerit that accrues to an administration that goes to war, Trump’s choice of methods was ideal. Neither did it commit us to further military action in the Middle Eastern theater.

     Despite that, the world is now on notice that the Trump Administration means to enforce our policy of punishing the use of weapons of mass destruction. Note that “the world” includes North Korea and Iran, both states that have pursued the acquisition of nuclear weapons and delivery systems for them. Note also that no other power has done more than deplore the gas attack; only America has acted.

     Many Americans dislike the U.S.’s assumption of “world policeman” status. I dislike it myself. But as with piracy on the high seas, the use of weapons of mass destruction must be regarded as inimical to all Mankind. That others refuse to act does not release us from the obligation, especially as it was the U.S. that promulgated the dictum that WMDs shall not be used except in direst need.

     Given all the above, why are so many – especially in the Right – morose about President Trump’s action? It would seem to me to have been in the best interests of the entire world, while not at all compromising to the interests of the United States.

     I have no answer. Of course, there are some who are never satisfied with the decisions of any administration. There are others who specifically dislike Trump and wish he’d go away. And there are some among his supporters who suspect that a pro-war cabal among Trump’s advisors is gaining influence over him that will eventually result in the sort of endless, pointless Middle Eastern war that has wearied the entire nation.

     Perhaps we should trust this president. He’s been true to his word so far, even considering the recent “failure” of the GOP to pass the American Health Care Act. He’s certainly proved more trustworthy than his predecessor...who, by the way, is deeply involved in operations designed to rally opposition to the Trump / GOP agenda despite all his protestations of support for his successor.

     We elected Donald Trump to the presidency. For my part, I intend to support him unless and until it becomes impossible. It’s a course I commend to all my Gentle Readers.


HoundOfDoom said...

I am one that has concerns about the intelligence assessments on Syria's use of gas. It makes no sense for Assad to do this, knowing the international uproar it would generate, as he has had the rebels on the ropes for several months now.

Second, we have been played by arabs in the past. Recall the multiple times 'palestinians' have staged people and items at bombed sites to generate sympathy. I note that all the pictures of casualties are children. Where there no adults there? Was a playground bombd?

Finally, I am informed that recovery of casualties from a site hit with sarin requires full MOPP gear, else the team sent in has a high risk of falling victim to the gas as well.

I am not to the point where I am turning against President Trump, but am concerned. Syria, and this includes Syrian children, is not worth one American life. I am just fine with letting Russia expend blood and treasure in the region trying to work with the sandpeople there.

Adrienne said...

My thoughts echo yours, Fran. However, it has gotten to the point where it's almost impossible to read any "news" story that even remotely reflects the truth. I particularly like the stories that if it hadn't been for Ivanka's influence Trump would have never shot off those missiles. What a load!

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Cui Bono? In this case; ISIS. The so called "gas attack" does not pass the smell test for reasons stated above by Hound. Additionally the "false flag" ploy is routinely employed by the "sand people" as we have seen previously in south Lebanon. The US has not been attacked by the Assad government which is in fact engaged in fighting a sworn US enemy. This appears to be more "pipeline" politics by corporate oil interests who profit from Syrian "regime change." Trump begins to look like a loose cannon who can be triggered by outrageous photos which can be obtained in virtually any third world hell hole. How about the white genocide currently ongoing in South Africa?

SiGraybeard said...

I probably echo HoundOfDooom with an added thought.

My concern is that Trump may have been punked, or pwned. Trump is playing in the corner of the world where chess was invented; it behooves him to try and think three or four moves ahead. Was the gas release caused by Assad's planes hitting the rebels? It's been reported they have chemical weapons as well. Was the whole thing a gambit to try and get us involved? That would imply it was either staged or someone thought (quickly!) to "never let a crisis go to waste".

The other thing I'd add is that there appears to be a mechanism by which being pessimistic brings happiness or satisfaction. When bad things happen, they get some sort of reward response to seeing negative things everywhere. There are corners of the blogosphere where anything like the situation in Syria is automatically written off as a false flag operation. This seems to make some people happy. Only an idiot would say that false flag operations never happen, but is every, single thing that happens a false flag operation? That seems hard to believe, too.

Emperor Misha I said...

Bravo, Fran! That's exactly how I see it too, only you say it better.

Yes, I am puzzled as to how on Earth it would even make sense for Assad to do such a thing but, as you yourself say, the President, whoever that might be, has to act based on the information that he has, not the information that he might get one day years down the road.

Which is why it irritates me immensely whenever people of otherwise sound mind and intellectual faculties start babbling about how Bush "lied" us into war or was "stupid" for getting involved.

Yeah. Stupid. Stupid for believing the information coming out of every single bloody intelligence agency on the planet and acting on that information. If only more people were that "stupid."

Anonymous said...

Maybe gas or no gas it was just to stop once and for all all the russian cuddling nonsense?

Dystopic said...

I was not terribly pleased with this action. The Muslim world is such a mess. They will always kill each other in job lots, and I am exhausted of the attempts to stop this behavior. It never works.

Maybe Trump convinces them not to use chemical weapons. Then again, maybe not. They don't even seem to care overmuch when their own people are killed.

I'm not dropping my support of Trump over this, for the reasons you mentioned. But I do hope this is not indicative of a trend of involvement in the Middle East. A one-time "don't use these weapons - go kill yourselves with something else" message is OK. I'll live with it. Anything more is likely to end badly for all involved, though.

syd B. said...

Perhaps there is a different way to look at Trump's decision to respond to the use of WMI's by Assad. Firstly, the US military says it has irrefutable proof that the poisonous gas was, in fact, dropped from a plane, eliminating the theories that either the gases were released on ground to make it look like the Syrians did it, or that a weapons depot was hit, thus releasing the gases.

Secondly, Assad is not the only rogue player to possess WMI's. If Assad's behavior went unchallenged again, as in Obama's non-response, this would be pretty much confirming to the rest of the bad apples that use of WMI's would have no ramifications, other than a stern look from the new POTUS. In other words, business as usual. Not acceptable and highly dangerous to everyone, including the US.

Lastly, Trump is now moving ships toward the coast of NK, while China is amassing over 150k troops on the northern border of NK. Does this signal a military offensive is about to unfold? I doubt it, but it may well be designed to scare the willy off that fat little brat, Kim, who has been permitted to develop nuks, brag about the capability of reaching US shores with them and generally behaving like a crazed lunatic. Trump has repeatedly said, before and after becoming POTUS, that something had to be done about NK. This is but another kept promise. He is changing the "pushover" reputation of the US, that Obama had so ineptly established. Had to be done.