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America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Friday, April 27, 2018

TGIF: Trump and Syria

Let's face it: no one knows what Donald Trumps really wants to do in Syria. On a couple of occasions he's said he intends to withdraw U.S. military forces. Does he mean it? Or does he say such a thing only when he's in the mood to strike a populist pose? Who knows? (We know where his national-security staff and his new secretary of state stand: they want to stay in Syria in order to overthrow Bashar Assad and strike out at Iran and Russia. So why does Trump appoint keep them on if he really wants to withdraw?)

In true Trumpian fashion, after saying he wants out, he has contradicted himself. Just the other day, standing with France President Emmanuel Macron, he said, “We want to leave a strong and lasting footprint” in Syria. By what authority? Congress has not authorized it, and no authority exists under the UN bylaws. Obviously, the Syrian government has not invited the U.S. presence.

The AP reports that Macron said that "he and Trump now agree that the Syria problem involves more than Trump’s priority of ridding the country of Islamic State extremists." Translation: they want regime-change in Syria, something Trump campaigned against. The AP commented, "The two leaders indicated that they see Syria as part of a broader problem of instability in the Middle East, which includes Iran’s role in Syria and Iraq." I'm sure Russia is on their minds as well. The AP added, "That kind of strategic thinking bears little resemblance to Trump’s words in late March when he said it was time to leave Syria to others."

Sowing further confusion, according to the AP, "The White House stressed that Trump’s plans had not changed and he still wanted U.S. forces to 'come home as quickly as possible.'" Right.

Anyone who sees coherence here isn't paying close enough attention. But who expected coherence from Trump?

And of course Trump has twice launched cruise missiles at sites in Syria after undocumented claims that Assad allegedly used chemical weapons against civilians in a Damascus suburb. Other U.S. military action has taken the lives of Russians, which puts the lie to the claim that Trump is Vladimir Putin's puppet.

It's worth noting that both alleged chemical attacks occurred shortly after Trump declared his intention to withdraw U.S. military forces from Syria. This naturally raises the possibility that those attacks, if chemical weapons were actually used, were perpetrated by forces that wanted the Americans to stay -- that is to say, the attacks were not committed by Assad but by those who are trying to overthrow him and want American help. That would be al-Qaeda-related militants. After all, Assad is winning the civil war; at the time of the last alleged chemical attack, only one pocket of rebels remained in the suburban enclave. Why would he want to inflame world opinion, and Trump in particular, at a time like this? It makes no sense. Yes, people sometimes do things that seem to make no sense, but Assad has not acted suicidally in the past; why start when the U.S. president is talking about getting out?

Trump has never shown much understanding of the Middle East, or of anything else for that matter. During his presidential campaign he proposed restrictions on Muslim travel and even on American Muslims "until we can figure out what the hell is going on." To say such a thing in 2016 and beyond demonstrates supreme ignorance and a lack of curiosity. At least since 2001, well-informed individuals, including Ron Paul during his presidential primary campaigns, explained that U.S. intervention (such as is now occurring in Yemen, among many other places) is what inspires the wish to harm Americans. Trump would know this if he cared and was paying attention. But he does neither.

Trump might "think" (if this verb can even be applied to him) that a U.S. presence in Syria is necessary to protect the American people, but this idea has been debunked many times. U.S. brutality against Muslims is what explains Muslim violence against Americans. Intervention endangers Americans; it doesn't make them safe. If Trump believes U.S. intervention in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Niger, etc. is necessary to prevent safe havens for terrorists, he need only do a little reading -- all together now: LOL -- to see otherwise. He could consult, for example, Scott Horton's "War Without a Rationale," in which he writes:
The September 11 hijackers, none of whom were Afghans, gained entry to the United States under regular tourist and student visas. The terrorists launched the attacks from Massachusetts, Virginia, and New Jersey. They had planned them in Malaysia, Germany, Spain, California, Florida, and Maryland.
By Trump's (and many others') "logic," the safe-haven argument implies the U.S. military must occupy every country. I should be careful about giving them ideas, shouldn't I?

Trump could learn from recent history, but he has time for neither history nor learning. Nevertheless, it was intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria that converted a small group of terrorists (see Horton) into larger, even more-militant offshoots in a variety of countries, not to mention the horrific Islamic State.

We should stop trying to figure out what Trump wants with Syria because that is a pointless exercise. All Trump wants is power and adoration. At any given moment he does whatever he believes will achieve that.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

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August said...

You are familiar with the deep state right?

It's simple. Trump doesn't want to be in Syria. He didn't want to be there during the election, and since we've got stuff from 1987 where he's saying the same damn thing he says now about China, we can figure he probably hasn't changed.

This is playing out a lot like I thought it would. Trump has Jesse Ventura's problems because he's not really a Republicans so both parties are aligned against him. And both parties are all for war.

I have a feeling the alt-right=nazi thing was a managed PR campaign by someone who knew an anti-war movement on the right could be powerful. Does anyone really need to differentiate themselves from the right to be racist? But the Republicans are the 'give war a chance' party.

The rank and file politicians though, could be pressured to become anti-war if they saw a strong movement likely to matter to their ability to get elected.

But the Democrats have totally pigeonholed their anti-war crew, and folks like Antifa are so messed up they'll show up to counter-protest an anti-war protest. So somehow, despite peace being a relatively popular idea now, there's no traction for it in politics. Tulsi Gabbard is seldom even seen, much less heard.

Since all the major media companies do zero research and just pick on Trump all day, maybe you ought to lay off, and do some research. The media will resolutely not go through the wikileaks stuff- many of them can't because it's classified and the agencies require their employees to not read it if they don't have that clearance, and not report on it to the public, even if it obviously out there for all to see.

This would be one reason the narrative coming out of D.C. sounds completely daft.

Sheldon Richman said...

I know something about the deep state, or the permanent regime. But Trump claimed to be different, and his fans agreed. If he's what you say he is, why isn't he raising hell? How do you explain his most recent appointments or Nikki Haley?

August said...

He has to hire within a certain population, and his whole management style appears to be 'fail faster.' So, he probably hires mostly based if he likes the prospective employee. Once, he mentioned this idea with regard to foreign affairs- like things sort of depend on whether or not he gets along with the guy. It's scary, but if you think about it, it is much less scary than the ideology of empire.

And I wouldn't be surprised if he hired Bolton because of the Iran treaty. I don't like Trump's position on that, but it was out there at election time too. So, put in Bolton and see what shakes loose internationally.

So, it's going to look ugly, and might not work as well as it would in a business environment. He's going to hire and fire. He's going to have opinionated people who argue with each other. He will also likely wait as long as possible, and then make snap decisions, many of which we may not like. The whole idea of fail faster is that there's going to be a lot of failure- failure is just sort of natural to the world- and you iterate, and sort of speed iteration up until you find something that works. Very non-ideological and potentially annoying, but again, better than anything else that was on offer.

James OGallagher said...

Lol Trump can do no wrong...."It's the deep state!" Nonsense. Sheldon nailed it of course. Your pathetic attempts to excuse Twerp's actions and appointments fall flat. If you were listening,he was just as incoherent and hawkish during campaign as he is now. You heard only what you wanted to hear. He originally supported both Iraq War and intervention in Syria. He said "Yes" at one of the GOP debates to a question whether those in Congress opposing more intervention in Syria had "blood on their hands".

Start paying attention and stop parroting lame excuses ("deep state, Bolton, Haley blah blah blah") for your little hero. He put those people in power for a reason. He owns it. And anyone paying attention knew this all along.

August said...

This is clear evidence of poor reading skills, as Trump very much does make mistakes. In fact, the whole concept of 'fail faster' would mean he actually expects to make mistakes.

Your best shot is taking down the weak parts of the narrative, not insulting Trump. Because he will take new information and act on it quicker than the deep state can respond. But if you just insult him, you are no better than CNN, and you are helping the Empire meander along.