April 13, 2017

Shoot first, take opinion polls later

A comparison between opinion polls taken ahead of a potential airstrike on Syria for alleged chemical weapons use in 2013 with those taken in the aftermath of the recent airstrike on the same country with the same leader for the same purported reasons, shows the power of cognitive dissonance to make people rationalize outcomes that they preferred not to happen.

Rewind to 2013, back when Trump was firing off tweets against the airstrikes on a daily basis. Every poll showed overwhelming opposition to such strikes, even when the question was worded to state as a matter of fact that Assad had used chemical weapons on his own citizens (ABC / WP), and even when a separate question found 80% agreeing that Assad had used chemicals on his own people (CNN).

Majorities agreed with anti-globalist positions across a range of questions (Pew / USA Today), such as airstrikes will make things worse in the Middle East, we have no moral obligation to stop violence against civilians in another country, Syria poses no risk to us anyway, and we're not going to lose credibility just because we don't fire missiles.

Republicans were more opposed than were Democrats, compared to the opposite now -- kneejerk partisan reactions. But Trump campaigned during the primaries and general that we should not do what we just did, and he blew away his anti-Assad rivals. So it's not like Republicans had changed their position as of a few months ago.

The main difference between this strike and the potential strike in 2013 is that Obama tried to argue for it in the court of public opinion, and that campaign dragged on and on as he refrained from pulling the trigger. That allowed Americans' true feelings to crystallize, and it turned out they were against it. This time, the Deep State pulled the trigger as soon as they could, after some pro forma propaganda about the evil butcher gassing beautiful babies. That rapid-fire response gave Americans little time to evaluate the situation and let their anti-airstrike views crystallize again.

After the strikes had already been conducted, a good chunk of people who were against them will not want to feel like they were on the losing side of that decision, so they rationalize after the fact that they actually approve of them when a pollster calls them up. There's no point in crying over spilled milk.

We can tell that people didn't actually want these strikes because the typical "approve" response is that they were fine, but let's not do it again, and definitely do not send in a ground invasion. They're just trying to rationalize this specific act, and move on.

If they were so against Assad or his regime or his Russian patron, they would be tasting blood by now and be excited about future strikes against the evil dictator. That's how the neocons have reacted. But only a small minority of American citizens feel this way, probably the same people who were looking forward to strikes in 2013.


  1. I always loved that video of Trump, "I'd bomb the sh#! out of ISIS"

    And he's done just that. Bravo!

  2. https://youtu.be/aWejiXvd-P8

    A pick me up for those of us who've been upset over Assad and Russia. Put this on repeat!!

  3. At least Assad realizes that Deep State, not Trump, were responsible for the strikes. He doesn't hold it against Trump personally. Presumably Putin realizes that, too, and all are trying to figure out how to evade our Deep State's maneuvers toward WWIII.


    Question 6: So can we say that the US strike changed your opinion on Trump?

    President Assad: I was very cautious in saying any opinion regarding him before he became president and after. I always say let’s see what he’s going to do. We wouldn’t comment on statements. So, actually, this is the first proof that it’s not about the president in the United States. It’s about the regime, and the deep state — or the deep regime — in the United States is still the same. It doesn’t change. The president is only one of the performers on their theatre. If he wants to be a leader, he cannot, because as some say he wanted to be a leader, Trump wanted to be a leader, but every president there, if he wants to be a real leader, later he’s going to eat his words, swallow his pride if he has pride at all, and make a 180 degree U-turn, otherwise he would pay the price politically.

    Question 7: But do you think that there will be another attack?

    President Assad: As long as the United States is being governed by this complex of military industrial complex, the financial companies, banks, and what you call deep regime, and works for the vested interest of those groups, of course. It could happen anytime, anywhere, not only in Syria.

  4. Yes, saw this. Hope the Trump Train becomes aware.

    "It could happen anytime, anywhere, not only in Syria."

    Reminds me of Gaddafi speaking to the Arab League, upset as if time was very short: Saddam was only the beginning, they're coming for us all.

  5. OT

    When somebody shows up here, probably from the media or at least that hivemind, pretending to be a conservative "too angry" at Trump and going on and on about Bannon-Kushner... yeah, what Kurtz says is exactly what's going on.
    #TrumpTrain needs cooler heads and not let the media yank our chains.

  6. I could be wrong, but I thought it was a great move by Trump. A completely symbolic gesture likely to invite only bluster from other powers, but that moved the Overton Window.

  7. It was taking a gun with one bullet loaded, and firing it at a powder keg. It's not the time in the Mid-East to be playing Russian roulette, as it were.

    And as a reminder, it's the complete opposite of what Trump had said from 2013 right through early 2017 -- the same country, same leader of that country, same alleged casus belli, same potential kind of attack from us, same nuclear superpower as that country's patron -- only now with that superpower directly involved, and stationed at the location we struck.

    Such an identical situation across so many aspects means a rationalization is not possible, other than "well it's different this time" (yes -- nuclear superpower is directly involved and stationed at the target).

    I'm sure Trump made the best of a bad situation, having been pressed by Deep State to do even more.

    But Trump is not a literal God-Emperor, and where he has gone against his long-held message so unambiguously, it can only mean that's where he is more vulnerable, or where the enemy has more leverage over us.

    Let's just admit that our champion had his arm twisted, and make that a cause for righteous anger and strike back harder at them, so that they ease up on him, and he can do what he has wanted to all along.

    Obviously we cannot threaten force against them, but we can spread the word, make our disagreement known by calling the WH or our other representatives.

    The moment we start rationalizing a loss as an esoteric win, rather than working harder going forward to correct the loss, our movement is headed toward co-optation by the Establishment. We will be passive spectators of whatever the Trump Show du jour is playing.

  8. If we want a symbolic display of balls-of-steel, why not also accomplish our other goals? Have one of our carriers in the Gulf fire off a salvo of Tomahawks at Riyadh, reminding them that their bill is coming due for our massive free military support (where they charge *us* rent for airbases!).

    Or instead of -- or at least, in addition to -- dropping that MOAB on Afghanistan, drop another one on Islamabad, while Trump tweets out, "That's for harboring Bin Laden!"

    Now that would be moving the Overton Window in the Jacksonian direction. Syria didn't attack us, threaten us, or help our enemies (they're hunting down the jihadists).


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