By Michael Davis
Following Trump's election, Bashar al-Assad said he and Trump would be "natural allies," assuming he commits himself to fighting terrorists and not building up the American Empire. But he didn't get his hopes up, "because the U.S. administration does not relate to the president alone but relates to different forces within this administration." Assad was, in other words, afraid that the old foreign-policy establishment would slither back into the halls of power and keep us engaged in our Wars of Democracy.
Alas, he may have been right.
Trump ripped into Assad's "heinous" and "unacceptable" use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. As he should... if there was even a shred of evidence that Assad is responsible for the attacks. But there isn't. In fact, there's no evidence that the Syrian government has ever used chemical weapons, against either civilian or military targets. That is and remains desperate, groundless conjecture deployed by the media establishment to exuse our governments' support for al-Qaeda and ISIS-aligned terrorists.
Trump promised to end the subterfuge. He promised to reverse the Obama administration's myopic pursuit of regime-change - to work with Russia and Assad to destroy Syria's jihadist insurgency. That's why millions of Americans (myself included) voted for him. That's why he's in the Oval Office today. Yet, less than 100 days into his first term, he's already failing us.
Maybe President Assad was right. Maybe the neoconservative elements in Washington are unassailable. Maybe we were foolish to think Trump could break from the echo-chamber of Russophobic rhetoric and focus on making the world safer for peace and democracy, rather than expanding the NATO hegemon. If so, God help us. Because this is a once-in-a-generation chance to root out and destroy the class of professional warmongers who've dominated the US government for the better part of a century. If Trump succumbs to their rhetoric, there may be no second chance. The American people may be doomed to perpetual warfare. The ritual of mothers tearfully sending their sons to die at the whim of armchair generals like John Bolton and Bill Kristol will continue unabated. That's what we'll call "The American Dream".
The will of the American people was crystal clear: we want a republic, not an empire. All that remains is to see whether Trump can resist the trappings of an emperor and accept the modest dignity of being a president. Put it that way, and perhaps even Assad was too optimistic.
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