Monday, 10 April 2017

Syria: what I get and what I don’t get

So Donald Trump has fired missiles at Syria. So much for the theory that he was better than Hillary Clinton because he wasn’t a warmonger. I did tell you. If this isn’t the beginning of a war to dwarf Iraq and Afghanistan, I will publicly eat these words. I’m not betting either way on whether there will be a nuclear strike, but if there is it will be Trump’s doing.

At least some of the people who voted for Trump did so because they thought he wouldn’t do this. I get that. Clearly they were wrong, and frankly it should have been obvious that the reason he never voted for war was because he was never in politics. But I get why that would be your concern. What I don’t get is why some of his opponents are now suddenly calling him “presidential”. I mean, sure, yes, blowing people up in other countries without asking the people they’re pretending to try to help is something American presidents do, but that’s not supposed to be a good thing.

There’s so many conspiracy theories going around at the moment that it’s hard to get a handle on what’s true. I used to trust Wikileaks, but they’ve been so nakedly partisan for the last year or so that I’ve given up on them. The evidence for some kind of Russian interference with the American election continues to pile up, and denials from Wikileaks aren’t going to sweep it away. On the other hand, Putin is buddies with Assad, isn’t he? How is Trump’s attack on Syria supposed to advance a hidden Russian agenda? Or did Trump just get pissed off with everybody calling him Putin’s puppet? Is that what this is about?

The other thing I don’t get is why so many people who would proudly call themselves “radical” seem to support, or at least sympathize with, Putin and Assad. Putin is an aggressively homophobic dictator, and Assad is a lesser dictator with zero concern for human rights. I’ve seen a video of two journalists disagreeing over what’s happening in Syria, and the one who the viewer was supposed to agree with claimed that Assad was loved by his people because he got so many votes in Syria’s elections. How does an international journalist not know how elections work in dictatorships?

I think I do get why so many people think, “Well, the US has to do something.” I guess it’s like the recent trailer for Deadpool II, where the inept superhero title character tries to prevent a murder but can’t change into his superhero costume in time. The US with its giant military is the superhero, and superheroes are not supposed to sit around watching other people kill each other. Only, so far, the US’s record for solving problems with its powers is worse than Deadpool’s. Trump’s “rush in without a strategy” strategy will change that only for the worse.

I don’t know where the world goes from here. I don’t know how we solve this problem. I don’t know how we get rid of a dictator who kills lots of people without a war that kills lots of people and ends up installing a worse dictator who kills lots more people.

Trump doesn’t know either. But Trump will bring the whole world down around all our ears before he admits that.