Russia-Baiting Pushed Trump To Attack Syria – and Increases the Risks of Nuclear Annihilation

Vast efforts to portray Donald Trump as Vladimir Putin’s flunky have given Trump huge incentives to prove otherwise. Last Thursday, he began the process in a big way by ordering a missile attack on Russia’s close ally Syria. In the aftermath of the attack, the cheerleading from U.S. mass media was close to unanimous, and the assault won lots of praise on Capitol Hill. Finally, the protracted and fervent depictions of Trump as a Kremlin tool were getting some tangible results.

At this point, the anti-Russia bandwagon has gained so much momentum that a national frenzy is boosting the odds of unfathomable catastrophe. The world’s two nuclear superpowers are in confrontation mode. It’s urgent to tell ourselves and each other: Wake up!

The dangers of a direct U.S.-Russian military conflict are spiking upward. After the missile attack, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it was suspending a memorandum of understanding with the United States to prevent mid-air collisions over Syria. And Russia’s prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, issued a statement referring to “our now completely ruined relations” and declaring that the United States was “on the verge of a military clash with Russia.”

These ominous developments are a longtime dream come true for ultra-hawks like Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who’ve gained leverage in an alliance with numerous congressional Democrats. The neocons and the “liberal interventionists” really have something going now, after propagating the meme that Trump is a Putin puppet.

At this perilous moment in human history, the quality of the Democratic Party leadership was embodied in a tweet last month from the Democratic National Committee’s new chair, Tom Perez, who sent out this message about a weekly address by President Trump: “Translated from the original Russian and everything.”

Such tactics aren’t just McCarthyite. They are baiting, goading and pressurizing Trump to prove that he’s willing to clash with Russia after all. Those tactics are a far cry from what’s actually needed – truly independent investigations – in order to address the charges that Russia interfered with the US election last year. We most definitely do not need the kind of baiting and goading that creates enormous pressure on Trump to show he’s willing and able to go to the brink of war with Russia.

Risking Thermonuclear War

Make no mistake. With 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons at the ready in the United States and Russia, pushing to heighten tensions between the two countries is playing with thermonuclear fire.

Early this year, citing the escalation of those tensions, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its “Doomsday Clock” even closer to midnight. “In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent,” the Bulletindeclared. “It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way. “

People at the grassroots must lead, pushing and pulling the official leaders to follow. To stop the current war train – and to quite possibly rescue the fate of the earth – we must get a grip. If we depend on the “leadership” in Congress, all that we hold dear will drift into still-greater jeopardy. With Congress now in recess, most legislators are back home – and they should hear from us. Pick up the phone, make an appointment to visit their district offices, or show up without an appointment.

Right now, in one minute, you can send an email to your senators and representative. …

Detente between the United States and Russia will be necessary for bringing peace to Syria. The same goes for reducing – instead of increasing – the chances that nuclear weapons will destroy us all. What passes for leadership on these matters in Congress will not save us. On the contrary, right now the congressional leaders are serving as enablers for what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism.”

Even the better statements from Capitol Hill about the April 6 missile attack have been grimly inadequate. So, Senator Chris Murphy warned of “the potential quagmire of Syria,” while Senator Bernie Sanders said: “I’m deeply concerned that these strikes could lead to the United States once again being dragged back into the quagmire of long-term military engagement in the Middle East.”

Expressing concern about a “quagmire” is all well and good, but falls far short of acknowledging what’s at stake.

On Sunday, the Washington Post published a sobering – and frightening – article by the person who was the national security adviser for Joe Biden during his last two years as vice president. “If the Trump administration and the Kremlin are not able to come to a meeting of the minds on Syria,” wrote Colin Kahl, “it could set the two nuclear powers on a dangerous collision course.”

Kahl, now an associate professor in security studies at Georgetown University, sketched out a plausible scenario: “The Syrian dictator (perhaps prodded by Russia or Iran) may attempt to test Trump again, hoping to prove the president is a ‘paper tiger.’ And Trump, having invested his personal credibility in standing firm, may find himself psychologically or politically compelled to respond, despite the very real risks that it could result in a direct military clash with Russia.”

And, Kahl added, “Given Russia’s vital interests in Syria, Moscow is not likely to respond positively to US ultimatums and maximalist positions. If the administration does not find a way to give the Kremlin a face-saving way out, conflict is much more likely than accommodation.”

Kahl’s article concluded: “Sinking into a Syrian quagmire would be bad enough. World War III would be far worse.”

Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books includeWar Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

6 thoughts on “Russia-Baiting Pushed Trump To Attack Syria – and Increases the Risks of Nuclear Annihilation”

  1. No it didn’t!

    Trump was ignorant and totally oblivious to US foreign policy goals when he was babbling about US/Russia relations in his campaign speeches.

    Now that we finally have Raimondo back from the dark side, it’s exactly the wrong thing to do to let some as-hole start apologizing for Trump again.

    Forget the domestic partisan politics of rot! Both parties, including Trump are revving up for war and domestic politics of division is playing right into the hands of the propaganda gamers.

    1. Trump’s own ignorance doesn’t change the fact that the idiots on the left are also wrong for pushing this anti-Russian nonsense. Trump is 100% wrong for his actions just as they are 100% wrong for their actions.

      I get so sick of this idea that blame must be somehow proportional. Let me put it to you this way. If four people rob a bank, that does not make each of them only 25% responsible. It simply means that four people are each 100% responsible for their own part.

      Pointing out that the Russia-baiting nonsense played a big roll in this is the correct thing to do. It’s not about apologizing for Trump, it’s about holding everyone responsible for their own actions.

      So should Trump have stood up to this nonsense? Of course he should have, but he shouldn’t have had to feel the need to stand up in the first place. People are constantly talking about what a loose cannon he is. If he is what they claim, then the last thing they should be doing is creating a situation in which he feels his only way out politically is to get tough with Russia. And they certainly did that.

      Do I think this would have turned out differently if not for the Russian Baiting garbage? Yes I do. Imagine if the media along with the Congress and everyone else had encouraged Detente now like they had the “Russian Reset”. Do you think the outcome would have been the same? Trump is a political and foreign policy novice who must see that everything is stacked against him. So instead of helping him do what is right they pushed him in exactly the wrong direction. That did not need to happen.

      I’ll tell you something else. I’ve been warning people all over the place that this was in fact the likely outcome of the Kremlin baiting garbage. This was as predictable as can be and the anti-Trumpers who pushed this nonsense are equally to blame.

  2. Not just the Russia baiting; the fanatical complete and total lack of support for Trump beyond his former base that persisted past the election. The anti-Trumpists wanted a fail and they got it, never mind the cost.

    Regardless of whether Trump would have turned or not all along, the strike in Syria was arranged so as to not conflict directly with Russia; it happened narrowly against Syria during the 24-hour window of Chinese President Xi’s visit to the U.S.. Effectively Xi became a hostage against hot retaliation by either Syria or Russia and the American’s wouldn’t ‘have’ to escalate in response.

    After all, it wouldn’t do to get into a shooting war with Russia with the Chinese President in the U.S.. Although it contradicted his own advice to Obama not to get involved
    in Syria, in context, the trigger for greater war from such an act was defused by
    using Xi.

    Its a controlled escalation towards worse things, not what Trump was elected and expected to do by his former base. It stays within the word, if not spirit, of Trump’s campaign promise to avoid conflict with Russia. With guys like Trump and especially Kushner, read the small print and be ready to litigate.

  3. Russia-Baiting Pushed Trump To Attack Syria.
    The dog ate my homework.
    The Democrats made Trump start a war.
    And other assorted USBS.

    1. Again, these would be the same democrats who are supposedly neutralized by the representative and senator counts. The ones who are so helpless, right? Trump needs to stand up and apologize, stop being a drama queen, you know? The dude had he presidency of the united states given to him without a majority of the vote, and not even as big a minority as his opponent, giving him almost unlimited quantities of unguarded money and the power to simply annex property of other Americans, and of course other nations.

      But he whines about being persecuted? Show me the wounds…

      He’s what we in the Southern population of the U.S. have a saying for that “Just quit sobbin’, you pathetic Titty Baby, nobody wants to hear that mess.” And “Someone check his diaper, he sure is fussing”

  4. Good analysis. Count me in the group that believes Trump attacks his critics, but really wants them to like him. He (secretly) wants their approval. I don’t think he has any core convictions, and certainly hasn’t undertaken years of deep thought about any of these geopolitical or ideological topics.

    Anyway, the “You are Putin’s Flunky” narrative worked on his fragile ego.

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