The End of the Trump Presidency
by Federico Pieraccini
Strategic Culture Foundation (April 12 2017)
On April 4 2017 in the Syrian city of Khan Shaykhun, a city controlled by western-backed terrorists, chemical weapons killed more than eighty civilians. Immediately, local and foreign sources (the White Helmets and Syrian Observatory, respectively, dubiously linked to Al Qaeda groups) blamed the Syrian Arab Army, accusing them of employing chemical agents. In the following forty-eight hours the mainstream media flooded print media and the airwaves with information that alleged that Assad used chemical weapons. As is known, it is not the first time that the legitimate government of Syria has been accused of attacking its own people with weapons of mass destruction.
In all similar events in the past, it has been later discovered that the chemical agents in question were used by the Al Nusra Front and Al Qaeda terrorists. In 2013, Obama tacitly rejected the argument that the Syrian Army used chemical weapons in Ghouta, deciding not to succumb to internal pressure to bomb Syria in response. Donald Trump required little confirmation before taking the initiative to cross the red line, openly attacking the Syrian army, even though his same intelligence community strongly doubted that the chemical attack took place according to the narrative advanced by the media.
There are several hypotheses regarding what may have happened in Khan Shaykhun. The first one points to a false flag by rebels and terrorists supported by Israeli, British, Saudi and Qatari intelligence. Alternatively, it could have simply been an accident. Assad’s forces could have hit a terrorist weapons cache without knowing that it was dedicated to the production and storage of chemical weapons. Another theory offers that foreign intelligence agents may have provided accurate information to the terrorists in Khan Shaykhun about what buildings were going to be targeted by Assad’s air force, thereby allowing them to move chemical weapons into the targeted locations in order to bring about a civilian massacre.
Whatever the case may be, it is unthinkable that Assad and the Syrian army would use chemical agents against their own civilians. There is no rational reason for them to use such weapons which do not guarantee any tactical advantage and which, besides, would incite an obvious, vehement reaction from the international community – a counterproductive move from any way you look at it. This is not to mention that two days before the accident (?), Trump and Tillerson had publicly opened up to Assad, broaching a Syrian future with the president still in office. Once again, the use of chemical weapons proved to be of no tactical gain, spelling full-blown political suicide. From whatever perspective one observes the incident; an intentional chemical attack by Syrian forces is not credible and should be therefore ruled out. Furthermore, Russia saw its request for an independent investigation in the Khan Shaykhun chemical incident blocked by almost all nations belonging to the UN council, with the exception of Syria, Bolivia, China and Russia. What do the US and its allies have to hide? We all know the answer to that.
An important factor to consider in order to understand the events surrounding the incident with chemical gases concerns the immediate American response. The bombardment with cruise missile, which caused a dozen deaths and some slight damage to Shayrat Air Base, needed at least a couple of months of preparation. This consideration helps clarify the scope of the chemical attack along with the attendant rationale and motivations.
Notably, over the past two months, Trump has received all kinds of pressure to continue the neocon-inspired aggression against Syria. The main cheerleaders of this attack certainly fall into that category of players that includes the intelligence community, the military-industrial complex, neoconservatives, the Saudis, the Israelis, the Turks and the Qataris. It is not unthinkable that the chemical attack was an act needed in order to allow a US military response. One must not neglect to consider the very positive outcome of the meeting between Trump and the Saudi prince, the latter of whom is a major supporter of aggression against Syria. The summit between the King of Jordan and the American president the day after the events in Khan Shaykhun ought to be viewed in the same light. At the same time, other events look more than suspicious in terms of timing and motives, such as the permanent exclusion of Trump adviser Steve Bannon in favor of General H R McMaster (appointed by Trump). McMaster is a protege of General Petraeus, a leading exponent of the interests of the neoconservatives. This is not to mention the exclusion of Flynn a month ago, another person who for years has advised against aggression against Syria, mainly thinking of the consequences that such a move would entail at the international level.
Much ambiguity also remains when one considers the absence of members of the American intelligence community in the war room during the bombing of Syria on April 6. Rumors suggest that these American agencies would have recommended that Trump not act on the basis of partial or false information regarding the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun. Trump, contrary to what he stated during the presidential campaign, has dismissed the advice of his intelligence community, preferring instead to act unilaterally under pressure from McMaster and other neocons in the administration.
The bombardment, involving the use of 59 cruise missiles (23 hit the base, others went missing, according to the Russian ministry of defense), caused little damage to the Shayrat Air Base, thanks to the prompt evacuation of Syrian personnel, and no injuries were reported amongst the Russian contingent. The Pentagon claims to have warned the Russians of their intentions, but it is more likely that there were no alternatives, and that this act was mostly political and at no cost. Rather than reading this as a hypothetical US courtesy to the Russians (and the Syrians, because Moscow immediately warned Damascus), we must consider that a few seconds after the launch of the first cruise missile by the two destroyers in the Mediterranean, Russian forces in the area were already fully aware of the path and destination of the missiles, thereby alerting Damascus. It is also possible that the generals close to Trump advised him to alert Moscow because of the danger of a Russian reaction if hit by US missiles.
Some doubts still remain as to the intentions and purpose of the attacks. In recent days, a hypothesis has emerged implying some sort of connivance between Russia and the United States in these attacks, apparently staged to appease the interventionists of the US deep state. There is no evidence to support this hypothesis, and the relatively limited damage to the Shayrat military airport may rest either with the high defense capabilities of the Syrian and Russians, or to the marked inefficiency of Raytheon’s cruise missiles, rather than any purposeful intention to do limited damage. In coming days, with more information available, it will be important to analyze what exactly happened to the cruise missiles that did not hit their target. As many know, it is taboo in the United States to criticize the military-industry complex, given the importance and influence it enjoys. In this sense, it is no surprise that in the United States, the press has been talking about the complete success of the attack, with 58 out of 59 missiles apparently being advertised as hitting their targets.
For Trump it may well be the beginning of the end. The intention may have been to make a once-off attack to appease the deep state, lowering in the process the heat stemming from Russiagate, in order to allow for the implementation of national policies in line with the proclaimed America-First doctrine that has thus far been sabotaged by opponents and detractors. These same detractors now applaud Trump for what they see as his first presidential act, which involves killing civilians with missiles.
What Trump does not appear to understand is that he has opened up a Pandora’s Box that implicitly encourages foreign intelligence and terrorists in Syria to rely on American help by simply playing the chemical-gas-attack card. Trump seems unaware that he is now under the complete control of the media, the intelligence agencies, Al Qaeda, and the neocons, who are all the time working towards the involvement of the United States in ever more wars, such as with the one in Syria. Trump has intentionally sold out to the deep state in the hope of saving his presidency. However, in so doing, he is doomed to becoming a puppet of the deep state. Now let us speculate for a moment about what may happen in the coming weeks.
In response to US aggression, Russia, Syria and Iran will increase cooperation against terrorists in Syria without any further cooperation with the United States. In this regard, we have already seen the suspension of channels of communication between Russia and the United States. The most likely reason for this is to avoid revealing to the United States the whereabouts of Russian troops in Syria. This hopefully causes huge concern for Washington, as the next American attack on Syria may impact on Russian troops. Regardless, it now seems clear that in the case of a new attack on Syria, there will be a firm and proportionate response from Moscow that could even lead to the sinking of the ships that launched the cruise missiles. It constitutes a dangerous escalation that could involve nuclear superpowers. Trump is probably betting that Moscow, in the case of another attack on Syria, would not dare attack American ships. Unfortunately for Trump and the rest of the world, his calculations are dead wrong, pushing the world to the brink of disaster in the event of another American bombardment of Syria. If Russia sinks American naval ships, and Trump does not respond, he is done. If he responds, then the world is done. Let us hope that the US does not do stupid shit (an Obama quote).
In case al Qaeda once again uses chemical weapons, Trump will be requested to answer with force, as he has already done. If he refuses to do so, he will be immediately pilloried as Obama was in 2013, thereby committing political suicide. Trump has already lost his most loyal supporters, who had voted for him to stop US military adventures abroad. By deciding to bomb Syria, he has opened the door to either an early termination of his presidency or for a large-scale conflict. Whatever the case may be, the United States begins a new phase of conflict in the Middle East, in direct contrast to the claims made by Trump throughout the presidential campaign. It represents a 180-degree reversal in policy that reveals the real intentions of the American presidency, namely continuing the preservation of the American unipolar world, in spite of lacking the necessary operational and military capabilities. After all, Obama resisted for six years the pressure to bomb Syria coming from the extremist wing of the deep state. Trump took only eighty days to voluntarily go along with plans to attack Syria. Whatever the hidden truth of these two events, it is clear that from now on that nothing will be as before.