More On The Tomahawk Strike And The Rehabilitation Of Donald Tr-mp

Anson Burlingame responded to my recent piece on Tr-mp’s missile attack on an airbase in Syria. You can read his remarks here. My reply follows:

Anson,

1. You accused me of saying Tr-mp “was dead wrong to launch the attack.” Well, you’re dead wrong about that. You can read my piece a thousand times and you won’t find me saying the attack was “wrong,” dead or otherwise. For my reasoning on this issue, I refer you to a piece I wrote in September of 2013, when Obama was deciding what to do about even worse chemical attacks in Syria. I will note that your comments attached to that piece indicate a very different response to Obama’s potential attack on Syria for “WMDs” than your response to Tr-mp’s real attack. I suggest you go back and explain your reluctance to support a strike then and your embrace of the attack now. Good luck.

2. My piece on the Tr-mp attack was partly about the reaction to it, which was nothing short of ridiculous. For God’s sake, Fareed Zacharia, a man for whom I had the utmost respect, said (I think he said this after I wrote my piece) that “Donald Tr-mp became president” after the attack. I promise you that Zacharia will never live that comment down. He has lost a lot of credibility. I will never hear him or read him the same way again. There was a way to talk about the attack that didn’t involve elevating Tr-mp to some kind of strategic genius (Bob Woodward) or morally legitimizing him as “president.” I never heard so much Tr-mp-pumping bullshit this side of Fox and Friends, Tr-mp’s alleged source for his newfound “outrage” over the chemical attacks.

3. I don’t give a damn whether the Washington Post’s editorial board, or any editorial board for that matter, approved or disapproved of the attack. They don’t have the slightest idea whether the attack was effective or whether it will make things much, much worse as we move forward. Neither do you. Neither do I. Time will tell. But we already know Assad is, just to kick sand in Tr-mp’s orange face, using the attacked airbase to launch more attacks, even if they are conventional attacks. So, we have more reason to believe nothing has changed than we do that the tactical and strategic calculations of Assad and the Russians and, for God’s sake, the North Koreans and the Chinese and everyone else in the goddamned world, have changed because of Tr-mp’s “decisive” action.

4. Another reason I had for writing that piece was to question the motivation of Tr-mp. Everyone just assumes what he said about his motivation was true. I remind you: this man is a pathological liar. But all of a sudden we’re supposed to believe him when he said he was moved by pictures of poisoned children. I call bullshit on that. We have much more reason to believe he was moved by his falling poll numbers. Everyone knows he has a weird fascination with polls that are about him, and everyone knows the polls about him will improve now. My logical conclusion, based on what I have seen and heard since June of 2015, is that Tr-mp took action, very low-risk action, primarily because it would be beneficial to him. That’s all he has shown us he gives a damn about. After all, children’s bodies have been washing up on the shores of the Mediterranean for years now and Tr-mp never appeared to give a shit. Over the months of the campaign, thousands and thousands of kids were barrel-bombed and Tr-mp’s response was to say to hell with them and their refugee-seeking selves. And nothing has changed at this point.

5. You said I should forget Tr-mp’s “mental health.” Huh? You want me to forget that a mentally challenged man, narcissistic to his core, pathologically incapable of telling the truth about anything, is ordering missile strikes and contemplating making war here and there and, before he’s done, everywhere? Or maybe he’s not. He may be watching Baywatch reruns this morning for all we know. We don’t know anything for sure about how his mind works except that it doesn’t work right. He has shown us enough to make that determination, and ten-thousand Tomahawks can’t erase that judgment, at least from my memory banks. So, no, I won’t forget about his mental health.

6. As for his picks for NSA and Defense, I don’t have a problem, so far, with them. I believed at the time that we were lucky to have them instead of, say, Sean Hannity running our national security apparatus. Right now, though, they are still trying to wrestle control from Tr-mp’s cronies and family, I would guess. I hope they are successful. Our survival quite literally depends on their success in controlling a deranged president who pays more attention to Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade and the Fox and Friends blonde-of-the-day than any of his intelligence folks.

7. Tillerson was obviously unqualified for the job of SOS. But at least he is making an attempt, if we are to believe press accounts, to learn what is going on in the world, in terms of things not having to do with Exxon’s bottom line. Someday he may even be able to get on the same page as our U.N. ambassador, in terms of expressing a coherent view of Tr-mp’s incoherent foreign policy in general, and in terms of his policy toward Syria in particular.

8. I have said for sometime now that Congress should “get involved in authorizing military action.” Period. The president does not have unlimited powers to wage war, or at least he shouldn’t. But effectively these days he does have such unlimited power. That’s the fault of people in both parties by the way. It sort of depends on which party has the White’s House (although there are a few legislators in both parties who have held consistent positions opposing unrestrained war-making executive powers). Maybe you remember when Obama and NATO took action in Libya, to prevent a slaughter, not in response to one that had already happened, that the Republican Speaker of the House opposed his action on constitutional grounds. Today, though, most Republicans are just fine, some orgasmically fine, with what Tr-mp did. My how times change when your guy is in the White’s House.

9. I also wrote the piece on Tr-mp’s attack to criticize those who have incessantly attacked Obama for not attacking Syria in 2013. If Obama had done what Tr-mp did this time, which as I said was a low-risk and likely low-reward move, he would have been called weak and indecisive by the John McCains and Lindsey Grahams of the world. But because Tr-mp did it, he was strong and decisive. In the words of Graham, he reached a Ronald Reagan level of strong and decisive. I almost swallowed my own head when I heard that reference.

10. Finally, you wrote,

Are you capable of writing such a strategic blog offering your views on how to deal with the current danger in the world around at least in deciding when to use military power against the many threats we face around the world.

In the link to my 2013 post, you will find some of my thoughts on that, mostly related to the Syrian problem, which I will focus on now. I want to say the following, on the record, about what to do in Syria: Do not use American troops, on the ground or otherwise, with the expressed purpose to remove Assad from power. We will own the Syrian problem in a big way if we do that. And there is no forseeable solution to the problem we will then own. In fact, I don’t see any solution at all to the multiple problems there, which is why Obama did everything he could to keep Americans from getting killed, even though there was incredible pressure on him to “do something.” He could have impressed us with his commander-in-chief chops by attacking an airbase or two without congressional approval. But, contrary to Fareed Zacharia, Obama genuinely acted presidential by restraining his emotions when confronted with the appalling images created by an uncivilized asshole named Assad, aided by Tr-mp’s Russian hero Vladimir Putin. Whatever you thought about Obama’s Syrian policy, his loyalty was to what he perceived were the long-term interests of the country he led, not to his own personal emotional reaction to human suffering, or, God forbid, to his poll numbers.

We can take military and non-military steps to protect refugees, many of which I would support. But even things like safe zones or no-fly zones involve a big danger of getting us more deeply involved in the many-faceted civil war going on there. But in my opinion, we can and should help people fleeing both ISIS and fanatical Islamists of other stripes, as well as people fleeing the monstrous Assad, being careful not to escalate our involvement beyond that (I continue to support our efforts to destroy ISIS, a separate matter).

Perhaps the first thing we should do is not, as Tr-mp and many Republicans have done, publicly brand the Syrian refugees as untouchables. We should welcome as many of them as possible to come to America. If Tr-mp wants to go some distance in proving he’s not just a calculating, grifting narcissist bent on raising his poll numbers by the use of low-risk military action, he should publicly renounce his past comments about Syrian refugees, withdraw hisImage result for syrian refugees washed up on shore executive orders barring them from the country, and instead offer up the United States of America as a friend to those fleeing barbarism, fanaticism, and desperate despotism.

But, of course, that he will not do. It’s much easier for him to shoot fireworks than admit he has been wrong for years about Syria and Syrian refugees.

Duane

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24 Comments

  1. As for Tr-mp’s motivations: China’s state-run news agency waited for President Xi Jinping to leave the U.S. before unleashing criticism on President Donald Trump’s Syrian missile strike.
    Although President Xi was visiting Mar-a-Lago when Trump ordered the strike on a Syrian air base, Xinhua waited until China’s president was safely out of the country before mocking the military action.
    “Xinhua, the state news agency, on Saturday called the strike the act of a weakened politician who needed to flex his muscles,” The New York Times reported. “In an analysis, Xinhua also said Mr. Trump had ordered the strike to distance himself from Syria’s backers in Moscow, to overcome accusations that he was ‘pro-Russia.'”
    Yeah — all smells fishy to me.
    BTW, this blog seemed dedicated to one of Trump’s blustery, worn out old apologists. You should never argue with a fool. Take a breath and walk away from these clown’s actions and remarks.

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    • I posted this piece primarily to air out things I didn’t have time to air out in that hastily prepared first piece. I was heading out of town and had little time to go into detail, so I used the opportunity to get some things off my chest. My position on all this is rather complicated, given that I have such a problem recognizing the legitimacy of the man pretending to be our commander-in-chief.

      As I have explained in years past, I am a liberal who believes we should spread liberal values, American values, around the world, first by example and second by opposing those forces who are enslaving and exploiting people. Thus, we need a strong military as well as strong diplomacy, but a willingness to recognize the limits of American power, both military power and moral power. For the most part, Barack Obama represented what I believe is the proper use of American strength, even though I know what he did wasn’t enough for most on the right and was way too much for some on the left. I think he mostly got it about right.

      Duane

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  2. Excellent post, Duane. You make very valid points, especially the ones about what the response was to Obama’s request to Congress to use military force in Syria versus the present response to Tr-mp’s actions.

    The one thing that worries me most about all this is North Korea. I fear greatly that the positive (and inappropriate) feedback the Tr-mp received from the Syrian fiasco will incite him to do something even stupider to North Korea. The consequences of any action there could be much more severe.

    I advocate influencing other nation-states through diplomacy, sanctions, and pressure on their allies. Force and war is sometimes necessary, but we should use it as a last resort because the outcome is so very hard to control or predict. The allies’ actions after WWII changed the world for the better because they were humane and bent toward reconstruction, but that is one of the few times the outcome has been positive. The outcome of the Iraq war has given us the issues we face today, because we should not have been there in the first place and because we did not understand the forces, religious and political, at play.

    Any time one messes around with power of the magnitude inherent in nation-states, you must be very, very careful or you will pay dearly. The way colonial powers divided the Arabian peninsula is one really good example.

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    • Michael,

      I understand your fear about North Korea and Tr-mp’s reaction to that crazy man running that hell hole. I just can’t believe the military opinions he would get would support him doing anything beyond deploying some assets here and there and talking tough. The Chinese may be willing, at this point, to put more economic pressure on NK and maybe that will help. Or maybe that will make things worse. We just don’t know.

      Your point about the use of soft power is exactly right. I’m afraid this administration began by essentially abandoning such soft power. Perhaps cooler heads are now prevailing is all we can hope. The Iraq war looms over all this, which is why we should never forget, as you pointed out, there are consequences involved in playing with regime change that we cannot possibly foresee and plan for in most cases. 

      Finally, as I said to someone the other day, we continue to pay a price for European colonialism and its aftermath. Some decisions and types of behavior have long-term consequences, don’t they?

      Duane

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  3. ansonburlingame

     /  April 10, 2017

    Duane,

    An excellent reply to my previous comments on the original blog by you about “the strike”. Such a response allows us, you and me at least, to have a constructive debate over many really big issues that go far beyond just the strike itself.

    Cutting to the chase, might I now safely assume that you support the decision made by Trump to launch the strike? OR, do you still have objections to the strike? While it took a “wall of text” from me to say I supported (and still do) the strike it boils down to one simple issue. For deterrence against WMD military force must sometimes be used. And this situation was just such a “sometime”, as it was in 2013. “We should have ………”

    My comments in 2013 were related to the information I would have needed back then to vote Yes in Congress (if I was a member). At that time my fundamental question was “Did Assad do it?”. This time around there is very little question in my mind on that point. Assad OR forces for which he is responsible “did it again”. IF deterrence will ever work to prevent future use of WMDs then no better time than now to make that point, period.

    I hope you watched Bernie’s words on Meet the Press yesterday. Basically he said Trump was wrong to strike and the “civilized world must now DEMAND no more chemical weapons launched by Assad”. Is there any question in your mind that the civilized world has been demanding no chemical weapons use for a long time, and yet …….. At some point, “demanding” is not enough, Bernie. So what else do you propose, Bernie?

    As I mentioned in a response to Jim in the previous blog there are two longer term points to debate now. This particular strike was like shooting the rifle out of the hand of a sniper after he killed someone. We struck the “gun” used by Assad, the single air base and storage facilities. Pretty “surgically” I might add with on 6 or 7 dead after landing 50,000 pounds of explosives in a confined area. Doesn’t get much more “humanitarian” than that.

    But what next all the pundits scream. Sit and wait in America with overwhelming force just off-shore around Syria (or on Saudi or Egyptian airfields) and see what next in terms of USE OF WMDS. No more use of WMDs then go back to where we started. Destroy ISIS and let Syrians decide how to reach a political solution with all the diplomatic and economic help we can give the right sides in that fight. No troops on the ground (except to destroy ISIS), etc.

    But the really big issue is what role must Congress play to authorize the use of military force today, absent a clear declaration of war. America has been avoiding that issue since 1945 and it is time to draw our own “red lines”, somehow. And whatever we decide to do we must remember that it will apply to any president after such a law has passed (including getting ANY president to sign it or a Congressional veto override). And it must address everything from thousands of missiles headed directly towards America armed with nuclear warheads, to something much more mundane as launching a Tomahawk strike at a pharmacy lab in Somolia (Bill Clinton), etc.

    We have literally been at “war” for 14 years now, but really “not at war” constitutionally. That is how democracies go crazy with indecision or stalemate. If I tried to count the DEAD from battlefields upon which Americans have fought since 1945 the number would be well over 150,000 I suspect. But not a single death happened during “wartime”. And not a single American citizen has had to suffer rationing, increased taxes, etc. as a result of a “war”, either.

    The “Greatest Generation” includes the millions of Americans that remained at home during WWI and WWII but they too paid a price. Since 1945 we have had the “Pussy Generation” letting volunteers fight for us and doing little or nothing as individuals to really support them. That must stop in my view. But “ending all wars” will never happen, either as long a “normal humans” roam this Earth.

    Think about not too long ago, Pearl Harbor. Within a day or so after that attack Congress declared war. 4 years later complete victory!!! 14 years after 9/11 we have been fighting a “war” with everyone second guessing everyone else. No wonder we never win military engagements approaching the breadth of something called “war”. Volunteers go to “war” for us and we sit back and critique such things as “pissing on dead soldiers on a battlefield” Hell half of Americans are more worried about sexual harrassment by military personnel than about the inability of those men and women to fight to a conclusive and definitive end with victory as defined by “every one”.

    Finally Duane, you are so caught up in your view that “Trump is crazy” that he will NEVER do anything right (except resign from the presidency). You lose credibility with me at least in that constant onslaught against him and ignore the fact that America still has “fundamental institutions” that CAN contain a “knee jerk” president (which he certainly seems to be) and even get rid of such. I await the debate from well meaning Dems to call for use of the 25th amendment. If that is too brash on their part (and I assume you believe it is NOT brash at all) then I await an alternative to override the will of the people as expressed, legally in our last presidential election.

    Anson

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    • More hairbrainedness. I can always tell when you’re getting excited, AB: your responses get longer and fluffier. I know you would count it all joy if Duane and you could be on the same side of something. Tr-mp’s rockets’ red glare was all bluster — as noted by China’s Xi. Here’s an even bolder assessment from the never wishy-washy Bill Palmer:

      “This afternoon the Associated Press confirmed what Palmer Report had first posited days ago (link): that Russia was behind the chemical gas attack in Syria. Shortly thereafter, Donald Trump’s White House panicked and pulled the plug on what was supposed to have been a background briefing on Russia.
      ShareBlue caught the switch-up this afternoon when it noticed the New York Daily News had reported that the White House briefing was switched from on-the-record background, to fully off-the-record, just as it was beginning. ShareBlue reporter Tommy Christopher characterized the matter thusly: “as someone who worked as a White House reporter for seven years, beginning a briefing on background and changing it to an off-the-record is something I have never heard of” (link). So what exactly is Trump’s White House suddenly trying to cover up?
      In my article from April 6th, I posited that nothing about the Syrian gas attack or Donald Trump’s military response made sense unless Russian President Vladimir Putin had been pulling the strings (link). Today the Associated Press is confirming that Russia knew about the gas attack in advance, and went so far as to blow up a hospital to try to conceal evidence of its involvement (link). The part of my theory that’s not yet been confirmed or refuted is whether Trump knew Russia was behind the Syrian gas attack at the time he launched his own military strike.
      So today’s White House panic move raises the question of whether Donald Trump and his people were merely taken so off guard by the Russia news that they weren’t prepared to give a response, or whether this is indeed evidence that Trump and the White House knew all along that Russia was behind it. More shoes will soon drop on this still unraveling storyline.”

      No sir. I’m pretty sure Duane is too smart to fall for Tr-mp’s BS missile launch. It certainly didn’t do anything to cower Assad who sent planes off from the bombed target less than 24 hours later to kill more opponents. Pathetic. Tr-mp will make a little more doe, though, since he owns stock in Raytheon, the Tomahawk’s manufacturer.

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      • That AP story about Russian involvement really bothered me. But I don’t want to jump to conclusions, as some people I know on the left have done, and say that there was some kind of conspiracy going on here. I don’t know what happened and am willing to wait until more is known. The problem is that, because of Tr-mp’s position vis-à-vis Russia, we will likely have to get the truth from leaks, which will only further divide the country, in terms of whose side who is on and all that muck.

        As for the strike on Syria, as I told Anson, I don’t have a problem with a strike meant as deterrence for future attacks. I have a problem with the decision maker in this case. I’m in the weird position of supporting a strike—a more meaningful and damaging strike, by the way—against Assad for what he and, apparently, the Russians did, but not supporting the man ordering it, especially since I believe he ordered it for the wrong reasons. Tr-mp couldn’t spell deterrence and has no idea how the concept is meant to work. I am worried about escalation, and I don’t believe Tr-mp can put his mind around the dynamics of this very complicated situation. Thus, Congress must step in now and make it clear what their will is in this matter before Tr-mp stumbles us into a big, big war. But I won’t hold my breath until that happens. 

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    • And one more thing: according to an ABC/WAPO poll, 69% of American’s think the Tr-mp’s missile attacks will not stop Assad/Russia from using chemical weapons. He is probably most upset by the fact that the tomahawk’s didn’t get him a bump in his nasty poll numbers. Tr-mp needs to host a different TV show: The Biggest Loser.

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      • Here is a paragraph from the latest CBS poll:

        Since the strike. Mr. Trump’s overall job approval rating has seen an increase to 43 percent. Slightly fewer now disapprove than did before. Forty-nine percent now disapprove of his performance.

        The increase in approval is driven mainly by independents, who are now at 42 percent approval up from 34 percent, while Republicans have held steady

        I’m telling you, this slight increase is dangerous, given who we are dealing with. This could trigger a “I’ve got to do more” approach..

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        • The US in unlike other democracies — thanks especially now to Citizens United. “Independents” are just imagination-less, attention-less nimrods who can’t decide between the while Honda or the off-white Honda. Afraid of their own shadow. Not cowardly, but courage-less. Unprepared. Lacking critical thinking skills. You’d have to be a nitwit to not be able to see the contrasts between Democratic and Republican party agendas. The “independents” and their lack of ability to connect the dots become the same liability for democracy as ignorant Republicans who stupidly vote every cycle for GOP Jesus — and against their own self-interest.

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          • It’s hard to mount a good argument against you, my friend. These days there simply is no good reason, at least for the poor and working class, not to differentiate between what is clearly black and white.

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  4. Anson,

    Since at this point in the conversation it is just you and me paying attention, I’ll start with your last assertion and work backwards.

    1. It would be stupid for Democrats to, all by themselves, attempt to remove Tr-mp from office. They do not have the power to do that and the effort would look foolish and soon it would be beneficial to Tr-mp, something he could use as an excuse. Republicans, of course, have no incentive to remove him, even though most of them think he’s nuts and most of them would remove a Democrat similarly situated, if they had the power to do so. So, that is a dead issue right now.

    2. You talk about America’s “‘fundamental institutions’ that CAN contain” Tr-mp and get rid of him if need be. What would those be? He just did an abrupt about-face and launched an attack on a sovereign country without congressional approval and, essentially, all the institutions, including the most important one called Congress, almost universally praised him for doing so. And if you mean to include the “media” as one of those institutions that CAN stop him, then I point you to the last election season, as well as the fawning coverage over the air strike in Syria. The only thing that can stop Tr-mp, before he does something really stupid in foreign policy, is Republican leadership. Forgive me, but I have seen their behavior over the years. They ain’t stoppin’ nothin’ unless it gets in the way of their domestic remake of America. If Tr-mp will sign all their dirty domestic bills, he can stay, no matter what he does, or doesn’t do, overseas.

    3. Again, you may find it easy to ignore the state of his mental health, but I do not. It is the most important thing about him and it will, unless we are very lucky, get us into serious trouble somewhere in the world. We can only hope “the generals” (you know, those guys Tr-mp once said he knew way more about things than they did) are able to contain his impulses and thirst for validation. The favorable attention he received for that low-risk airstrike was, I am quite sure, intoxicating for him and he will want more. If you don’t think that is relevant, then we really have nothing left to talk about after this.

    4. By the way, speaking of that airstrike. You seem to think it was a massive undertaking and a magnificent success. Are you serious? It was almost the least that Tr-mp could do, in terms of putting American soldiers at risk. I fail to see how such a limited and obviously risk-averse mission will deter Assad. If anything, I could make a case that it will only empower him, since it is apparent Tr-mp did not want to do anything too risky, especially since his base of political support is on his ass for the little he did do. And, damn, they flew planes out of the damn place already, Anson. It’s the follow-up to such a low-risk move that will mean something. And this administration is hopelessly confused about what that follow-up will be. Just look at what was said yesterday about barrel-bombing, which quickly had to be walked back. It’s utter confusion because the head guy is a head case.

    5. I already told you I agree with you about Congress authorizing war. But look around you and tell me if you see any appetite on the part of Republicans for doing so. They run the damn place, so it is up to them. Call your GOP buddies and get them right on it and I am sure they’ll listen.

    6. You ask whether I “support the decision made by Tr-mp to launch the strike.” No. I do not support the “decision.” And I don’t support it for a couple of reasons. One is that it was made by Tr-mp, whom I consider to be, as president, mentally incompetent and morally illegitimate. His “decision” was likely made for reasons other than deterrence, as I have argued. Related to that, my second reason is that it was not authorized by Congress. When we have such a mentally unstable and insecure man in the White’s House, it is more imperative than ever to have Congress approving these types of things.

    Now, do I support a military strike against Assad for the use of chemical weapons? You’re damned right I do. And, if we had a normal president, I also think Congress should authorize, even demand, that we set up some kind of safe zone for those pitiful refugees, even though it would put some American soldiers at sustained risk. In hindsight, Obama should have asked for this, but the risk involved is not small and his instincts for the country was to keep us out of someone else’s civil war. He did not think any of the options available were in our long-term interests and he has admitted the whole thing still “haunts” him to this day. My problem is that I think we owe something to those refugees because of the decision to go to war with Iraq. The destabilization that followed that horrendous decision in 2003 is partly our fault and we have some moral obligation to protect them as best we can. (By the way, you ignored my call to have Tr-mp renounce his stance against the refugees, but, oh well.)

    Related to this safe zone is whether we will have a no-fly zone to go with it. That seems inevitable to me. I don’t know how you can protect anyone on the ground without imposing some restrictions on the air space over the safe zone. That, of course, is where the problem comes in. We would need Russian cooperation to accomplish this without starting a war with them by shooting down one of their planes. Do you think Tr-mp even understands any of this? Hell no he doesn’t. He is busy playing golf and watching cable news. That’s why I would support such a safe-zone if, say, Hillary Clinton were president (which was her well-understood policy), but have real problems supporting it while a man, possibly compromised by his involvement with the Russians, is at the helm. It is much too dangerous to do until we either get rid of Tr-mp or find out his only problem with the Russians is that they have videos of him getting pissed on by prostitutes. On second thought, I’d rather not risk starting WWIII while Tr-mp is around, thank you.

    7. That leads me to the latest AP report. Here it is:

    The United States has made a preliminary conclusion that Russia knew in advance of Syria’s chemical weapons attack last week, but has no proof of Moscow’s involvement, a senior U.S. official said Monday.

    The official said that a drone operated by Russians was flying over a hospital as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment. Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.

    The U.S. official said the presence of the surveillance drone over the hospital couldn’t have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.

    Given Tr-mp’s history of praising Putin and his habit of putting the U.S. in a place of moral equivalence with Russia, in terms of killing, etc., what do you think Tr-mp will do with this piece of intelligence, if it is true? Will he just call it “fake news”? Will he ask Fox and Friends what he should do? Will he launch Tomahawks at Russian planes on the ground in Syria? We are now back to the issue of his mental health, as well as the issue of whether he has been compromised in some way by the Russians. If this report is true, we will soon find out where this administration is going, in terms of its relationship with the Russians. I, for one, am scared shitless that the guy in charge of all this has made American leadership the moral equivalent of a Russian killer, has heaped much praise on the asshole, and may be indebted to Putin-friendly Russian oligarchs through a complicated financial deal in Europe. Are you also scared shitless about this?

    8. Here’s the problem, Anson. This isn’t about whether we have an all-volunteer force. It isn’t about some kind of “pussy generation,” which is offensive to those who have fought and died since the “good old days” of WWII, etc. This isn’t about whether we worry too much about sexual harassment in the military (we don’t, by the way; we worry too little about it in some ways). This is about whether we have a commander-in-chief who is up to the job in very dangerous times. Any move in Syria or in Europe involving NATO and, say, the Baltics (how about that developing mess that almost no one talks about?) puts the U.S. in danger of escalation, in danger of WWIII, in danger of nuclear war. I would not worry so much if Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton were in charge. But I worry very much that we have Tr-mp in charge. We all should worry about that.

    Even you.

    Duane

    P.S. Your limp explanation for your different views in 2013 won’t cut it with me. There was no doubt, at the time the issue was being contemplated, that the Syrians used the chemical weapons. And there was absolutely no doubt they had plenty more to use and the willingness to use them. Assad, as I recall, was actually losing the war at that time. Today he is winning mostly, if winning means destroying cities and killing innocents and driving the rest out of the country. Which makes his use of chemical weapons now perplexing, except when you consider, as John McCain pointed out, that it was our SOS’s remarks (along with an ambivalent overall message from Tr-mp and his administration) that likely led both Assad and Putin to feel like they could do as they pleased with no response from us. In any case, why don’t you just admit that the main reason you didn’t support a strike in 2013 was because of who sat in the White’s House?

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  5. ansonburlingame

     /  April 12, 2017

    Duane,

    Another good reply. You support the strike but detest the man making the ultimate decision for same. I understand that, at least sort of and won’t argue that point. For deterrence to work ……….. And this was a …………….. Is that fair?

    We are in agreement that Congress must decide how to handle controlling the use of military power better than since 1945. No argument there until we get down to specifics. As well Congress should include is such restrictions what to do when a President refuses to use military power but should be done. Different side of same coin. How do you “order” the Commander in Chief ” to fight” when he does not want to do so? Not sure I have heard that kind of question before.

    No fly zone issue. It is easy to tell Assad not to fly combat aircraft over his own country. We have the ability to prevent same with little danger to America. But I have no idea how to tell Russia not to do so without potential grave consequences. No Dem has explained how to pull that one off and I have no suggestions unless Russia agrees to actually let Syrians fight it out and sit on side lines except to prevent the use of WMD, as we are still doing.

    Refuges? Note that Assad will call most of them “terrorists” and he and Russia will continue to bomb them with impunity, unless “somebody” steps in. Should NATO do so, or a Sunni group of nations, or America alone, or America with other Sunni Nations, or …….. Only real path forward, again, is establish UN refuge havens with UN air cover. Hmmmm?? Other option is let half of Syrian immigrate to ……….. How is that working out? Simple fact, to me at least, is I don’t know how to deal with that humanitarian matter until a “political solution” is found in Syria.

    Right now and for the last 6 or so years we have watched “war as politics by other means” play out and we probably have several more years before the war part of the solution reaches an end. Given current trends Assad will be on that winning side unless ………. Of course Bernie’s answer to that point is the “civilized world must now DEMAND ……” I hope some Dem has better suggestions. I am drawing a blank on the answer for sure until ………

    Which leads to the question of going to war “for humanitarian reasons” People are getting killed so we decide to go to war to stop the killing!! Think about that. They sure did not teach us a solution to that problem at the WAR COLLEGE!!! But there were lots of examples discussed where that didn’t work very well. Remember I was a student there in 1985-86 as well. Lot’s has changed since then.

    Finally, while all this is playing out in Russia and Syria today, I am keeping a close, weather eye on Asia with a full up battle group conducting what we used to call “presence”, “upholding freedom of the seas” and today might be called a “show of force” Bet there is a traffic jam in space right now with Russia, China and U.S. satelites, drones, aircraft, submarines, etc. prowling all over that place right now. You can bet your bippy those American ships are loaded out with nuclear weapons and hundreds of Tomahawk missiles as well, just the surface ships. God only knows how many submarines have now assembled as well in the South China Sea from all sides. Talk about a flash point!!!

    What is happening is Asia right now is a grand display of SEA POWER at least as I studied that topic 55 years ago. Ten years from now we will be lucky to have any operational battle group able to respond is such a manner. Bernie will say “good”. I cringe to think about such an American decline!

    You challenged my reliance on “fundamental institutions” now with Trump in the WH. I have little idea what HE will do but know as well that such institutions have served us well in the past. Today, I have no idea. But if they DON”T force the “next right thing to be done” in this crazy world, what ELSE can we fall back on today?

    Good exchange. And I always pay attention when you write, at least most of the time!!

    Anson

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  6. Duane. I think you have lost control of this posting. The whole thing has gone off the rails.
    It reads like a Trump press conference. Yikes and double yikes.

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    • I’m not sure what you mean, but I am doing the best I can expressing my own views, which are a bit complicated to explain. I am not responsible for the views of others. At least I didn’t think so.

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  7. Anonymous

     /  April 12, 2017

    Generalist,

    Anson considers this a good exchange because he didn’t respond to Duane’s last sentence in his reply. He asked him one question, which he dodged like Trump and his draft notice. He won’t admit that Obama had a better plan which might have saved Trump from needing to make a missile strike, solely because “the scary negro” that the GOP detested had made it. It was a better plan, far more effective, and might have saved the lives of the latest attack victims. I wish he had the courage to answer his question, but he knows better.

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  8. Fair enough. My apologies to Duane. But I gotta say again, this posting read from AB’s responses makes it sound like Duane has bought the brilliance of the bombing bamboozle. Putting words into other people’s mouths is one of the characteristics of Trumpspeak. AB needs more calling out for his attempted snookery. Maybe I’m paranoid — I’m about halfway through “1984” which I last read about 50 years ago.

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  9. ansonburlingame

     /  April 14, 2017

    Of course as the lone conservative trying to conduct a discussion or debate, I keep being called ……. That doesn’t stop me however.

    Anonymous,

    I missed answering the last sentence in Duane’s length remark as you point out. The answer is an emphatic NO, I did not object to the Obama approach because he was ……. In fact I did not outright object to it at all. I merely expressed uncertainty in 2013 as to what evidence really existed to show ASSAD actually did it. My rational at that time was a rogue element of his military might have just done it himself.

    But now enough on this string. There are more recent discussions to hold. Note my reference in the latest blog to the column by Faird Z. It is a superb column saying stop this “delusional” attacking and critique each action (or even tweets if you like) with political impartiality and instead judge each one based on an evaluation of real American interests.

    Certainly that won’t stop Duane or the General and they will continue to label everything Trump does as insane, etc. But at least it shows some progressives with the same approach I am trying to take and still not be an appologist for Trump.

    Anson

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    • Anson, you might be amazed to know how many liberals think Fareed Zakaria is a faux progressive. He’s rolling the dice on this and will ultimately find himself on the wrong side of history and trying to re-suck his way back up the progressive ladder. He has very little progressive gravitas — especially now.
      But, on this specific post I have appreciated and — believe it or not — I generally appreciate the measured politeness of your comments. I have no such skill when it comes to discussing politics, particularly in these harrowing days. I’ve stated this before. I disagree with you at least 97% of the time, but you generally keep your cool. That is an admirable trait and you should receive some kudos for it.
      Happy Easter.

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    • Just to clear up a minor point here. You said,

      Certainly that won’t stop Duane or the General and they will continue to label everything Trump does as insane, etc.

      Speaking only for myself, I don’t categorize, except as hyperbole, Tr-mp as “insane.” I have noted again and again that he has a head full of personality disorders, some of them quite dangerous given the job he now holds (illegitimately because of his begging the Russians to help him win). Thus, I don’t “label everything Tr-mp does as insane.” Some of it makes perfect sense, given who he is. Some of it, like getting people to pay twice as much for a membership to Mar-A-Lago are quite rational. Some of it, like getting foreign dignitaries to stay at his fancy D.C hotel so he can profit from it, are quite rational. Some of it, like putting his kids in the position of enriching themselves at the country’s expense, if need be, are quite rational, again, given who he is. While I think those and other things he does are disgusting and un-American and unfit for a real president of the United States, they are not insane.

      What is nuts, though, is talking unnecessarily and provacatively tough in a volatile world in which one stupid move by a radicalized foreign leader, whether it be in North Korea or Iran or elsewhere, could start a chain of events that would make the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the subsequent events related to it look like a sunny day in Cunningham Park.

      Duane

       

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  10. ansonburlingame

     /  April 15, 2017

    To all,

    The observation that the General extended an olive branch, of sorts, in this exchange is indeed progress. He is probably too “new” to this blog to understand the history between Duane and me. I don’t agree with Duane’s politics in most cases but I respect his depth of reading, his careful thought process

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  11. ansonburlingame

     /  April 15, 2017

    New computer and I have no idea why the above just posted. I wasn’t at all finished with current thoughts on the matter. Here is the rest.

    …….., his careful thought process and his excellent writing skills, far better than mine.

    But when Duane and I infrequently meet we shake hands and can talk as normal humans. I go rather far back when we both showed up, in Joplin, at an early Tea Party rally. We both thought it as ridiculous and both deeply offended by a particular sign held by a local, racist, red neck. Neither of us would politically support Ozark Billy Long in almost any of his thoughtless positions as well. There is room for agreement sometimes between the two of us and when we often disagree we do so without personal attacks, most of the time.

    Sure we are frustrated with each other and that shows when we write back and forth. But frustration is not fundamental disrespect.

    PBS had a short clip last night on the NewsHour by a man that recently published a book on the demise of experts (expertism???). He made the point that some, many perhaps that serve in government have a very long history of education and experience in certain matters. Based on a lifetime of thinking, reading and actually serving in positions of relatively high authority they express opinions that reflect such “professionalism”.

    But if they cross some political line they are attacked as if they were pure idiots, personally and viciously. Simply because they choose to serve under a progressive or conservative administration they automatically become “crazy”, irrational, plain stupid, etc. Some military leaders are held in such disdain, frequently, and lumped into some category of a militarist that only knows one way to solve a problem, bomb the hell out of it. In general, members of our military were held in such disdain, generally speaking, during the Obama administration, and our foreign policy suffered as a result, at least in my view. No they were not always right, but sometimes they were.

    I see Mathis, McMaster and, yes, Tillerson as remarkable, deeply professional men that are almost the total opposite of Trump. I have emerging, great respect for such men (and women too, such as Condelesa Rice, etc., but NOT Susan Rice for sure}. I believe the country is in good hands with such men and women. Yet they to can do nothing right it seems to many liberals.

    Anyway, I will usually support generally conservative approaches to foreign affairs, use of military power and financial matters and thus generally disagree with the liberal approach to such things. That is where Duane and I always clash but try to do so based on policy disagreements, not personalities, etc. ALL conservatives are not…… nor are all liberals either. But MOST liberal policies are also wrong in my view but again so what. You and I are not going to change much of anything herein.

    Anson

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    • Ben Field

       /  April 15, 2017

      Anson,

      Thank you for responding to Duane’s question regarding why you didn’t support Obama’s strike in 2013, but Obama is not a scary socialist by any loose interpretation of reason. That is certainly a different story than you stated in numerous comments at the time. I have noted some of your reasons you cited at the time for not supporting Obama’s missile strikes. I have the links and your comments are therein.

      1. You stated as long as the fight and gas stayed in Syria, it was none of our business, until the gas came across an international border then we should attack. *My question is the gas didn’t cross borders this time either, but that’s okay because Trump is not a scary socialist?
      2. You stated the gas could have been a result on conventional arms detonating a warehouse storage, or possibly a “rogue” commander. *My question is why are the Syrians using this story now, and what difference would it make if it were a “rogue” commander if he were operating under Syrian authority?
      3. You stated that Obama’s intelligence could possibly be flawed as in 2003, which you excused as “uncertainties of war”. *My question is you know Bush’s intelligence in 2003 gave him what he wanted, to go to war, Obama didn’t want to go to war, just a punitive strike, for what reason did you not demand to see Trump’s intelligence as well?
      4. You stated “Are we now to become Al Qadea’s Air Force?” *My question to you is do you consider that Trump has made us ISIL Air Force?

      What I enjoy about Duane’s writing is the remarkable consistency in his message, I have never caught him being as duplicitous as you were contrasting the gas attack in 2013 & 2017. I know you cannot possibly feel the pure contempt that progressives have of Trump, he is a traitor, he is a liar, and he is mentally sick according to several psychologists.

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