Journalists, Democrats Rally Round the Flag of War (and a Flagging President)

American journalists may be the “enemies of the American people,” according to President Trump, but that didn’t stop a whole lot of them from supporting Trump’s order launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at one air base in Syria. The U.S. missile attack was said to be in retaliation for the Syrian army’s use of chemical weapons. Perhaps American journalists are happy to find an enemy other than themselves for Trump and his followers to focus on. But I think it says more about the media’s support for “humanitarian war” than any support for Trump. And surely the Trump administration reckoned on the patriotic power of military strikes to raise the president’s flagging reputation. For the moment, at least, it seems to have worked.

What’s generally true of journalists is also generally true of prominent Democrats like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer who spoke in favor of Trump’s missile attack; it would help the Democrats a good deal if they left the warmongering to the Republican Party and rediscovered their Vietnam era anti-war, pro-peace voice. It doesn’t help that the man who once refrained from attacking Syria for using chemical weapons (then-President Obama) did order similar “humanitarian” missile strikes on Libya in March of 2011 to punish Moammar Gadhafi. The key difference for the attack on Libya was it occurred under a United Nations Security Council resolution for use of force. But though Gadhafi was eventually brought down,  all is not well in Libya. This from C.M. Stassel at Huffington Post:

In Libya, the ousting and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi also led to a power vacuum, eventually filled by extremist militant groups. Today, the country is essentially a failed state run by these terrorist groups. Recently released phone transcripts between Gaddafi and Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, reveal that Colonel Gaddafi predicted that extremist groups would come to power in his absence.

Gaddafi warned, “They [jihadis] want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe.”

And we all know what has happened to Afghanistan and Iraq after our invasions: war brought more war.

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USS Ross fires a Tomahawk missile at Syria, April 7, 2017. Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Which is why the adoring support for this latest U.S. attack on the forces of a dictator, however cruel and abominable he may be, is so disheartening. As Adam Johnson of FAIR.org helpfully catalogs, the five leading newspapers in the U.S. on the day after the attack did not provide a single opinion piece opposed to Trump’s miserable missilery. Are there so few anti-war, pro-peace commentators in the U.S.? Surely the peace activist organizations would have been delighted to supply an opinion piece or two to grace the pages of the NY Times or the Washington Post.

What, pray tell, did Trump’s 59 missiles actually accomplish? The AP reports that at least 7 Syrians were killed, and at least 9 wounded. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has previously identified the seven killed as Syrian soldiers. But there is also a report from the Syrian state news agency, unsubstantiated at this time, that 9 civilians were killed, including 4 children, when some of the missiles missed their targets.

As far stopping Assad’s attacks, chemical or otherwise, Trita Parsi relates the following:

“By now, it is clear that the missile strike has not impeded Assad from using his air force to strike rebel strongholds. In fact, Syrian warplanes reportedly carried out strikes yesterday against rebels near the city of Homs — taking off from the very air base hit by U.S. missiles. Trump even gave Assad advanced notice via Russian President Vladimir Putin, which enabled the Syrian dictator to move his troops and bunker his planes. Moreover, Trump left one of the airstrips at the targeted base untouched, which is why Assad could quickly use the base to launch further attacks.”

Fortunately, there has been some public resistance to the missile strike from liberal, libertarian and peace organizations and there will be protests held in the U.S. and elsewhere to prevent a full-blown war with Syria and its allies.

Hopefully our journalists and Democrats will reconsider their initial support for Trump’s Syrian missile mistake. Let’s not give war yet another chance.

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