The real reason Donald Trump has launched an illegal direct strike against the Assad government in Syria has nothing to do with chemical weapons.
On 4 April, dozens of civilians reportedly died in a chemical attack. The US President claims that concern for the victims led him to unilaterally attack the Syrian government. And The Guardian, the BBC, and other establishment media outlets appear to have ignored context, taking his word as gospel.
The real motive
But Trump’s real motive is the same as it always is: gaining political capital. His overall approval ratings are at increasingly historic lows for a newly elected President. He recently suffered a major defeat on repealing the Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’). And to hold on to power, the Trump Administration knows that warfare will rally people behind the President.
We know Trump is aware of this tactic, because he has pointed it out himself in the past:
Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2012
Warfare boosts ratings
Warfare tends to boost a president’s approval ratings. And Trump is in dire need of that.
George H. W. Bush’s ratings, for example, leapt nearly 20% after he launched the Gulf War against Iraq in the early 1990s. And the same happened for his son, whose ratings jumped 13 points after embarking on the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
This ratings boost from conflict is known as the ‘rally effect‘.
Establishment pressure and positive press coverage
Trump’s strike is a sudden U-turn on his previous anti-interventionist policy regarding the Syrian government. Just a matter of days ago, for example, his administration was talking about prioritising the fight against Daesh (Isis/Isil) over the removal of Assad. And this position ran contrary to that of many others in the US political establishment, who have long been pushing for Assad’s removal.
Unsurprisingly, Trump’s 180-degree turnaround has easily generated him his best night of press coverage so far. Even among so-called ‘liberal’ outlets:
Guest after guest is gushing. From MSNBC to CNN, Trump is receiving his best night of press so far. And all he had to do was start a war.
— DC Sentinel Manager to be talked to (@SamSacks) April 7, 2017
Six consecutive MSNBC guest praising Trump for airstrikes, the only dissent on MSNBC concern trolling over Congressional authority.
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) April 7, 2017
Before even knowing the impact of the strike, pundits were lauding the strike as “surgical”:
before any verified reporting of the impact of the missile strike, every media talking head and politician is calling them "surgical" pic.twitter.com/d81KwQVnTf
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) April 7, 2017
But we don’t even know who did it
As The Canary reported on 6 April, both the media and political establishment in the US jumped the gun regarding Syria’s chemical attack. Even though there is still no firm, independent confirmation that the Assad regime was responsible. And Trump carried out his strike on Syria regardless.
In Syria, the failing anti-Assad opposition would have every reason to undermine Trump’s former isolationist position and provoke a US strike against the Syrian government. And who is to blame for the chemical disaster changes depending on whether you ask pro-Assad, anti-Assad, or indeed neutral sources. Regarding the latter, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has insisted on the need to get “proof from the UN first” before jumping to conclusions.
The war machine rumbles on
Trump’s bombing is the first time the US has directly and intentionally attacked the Assad regime, but reportedly the 7,899th US strike in Syria. The strike launched around 59 tomahawk missiles at a cost of up to $1.5m each.
The real reason Trump launched the strike is not new, but standard for our political elite. Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton actually called for violent retaliation herself before Trump’s bombing. Political elites prove time and time again that the only thing they care about is holding on to power. And yet again, the warmongering corporate media is cheering them on.
We need to bin the lot of them, and soon.
– Read more Canary articles on Syria. And learn more about Rojava – the democratic and multicultural Syrian region which supports neither Assad nor his jihadi-led opponents. Visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for more international coverage.
– Fight back against establishment warmongering. Join the media revolution by supporting independent news outlets which seek to hold the powerful to account; while informing and inspiring the struggle for an alternative. Add more that you like in the comments section:
Featured image via Flickr
We’re a thorn in the side of the establishment, but we can’t do it without your help
Your fight is our fight. But as many of you will know, speaking truth to power has never been easy, especially for a small, independent media outlet such as the Canary. We have weathered many attempts to silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media. Now more than ever, we need your support.
We don’t have fancy offices, and our entire staff works remotely. Almost all of our income is spent on paying the people who make the Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our team and enables us to continue to do what we do: disrupt power, and amplify people.
But we can’t do this without you. So please, if you appreciate our work, can you help us continue the fight?