Tonight sees the beginning of yet another pointless war in the Middle East -- a "limited strike" in a place with all sorts of foreign entanglements, which will provoke escalation, and which was followed by a call by the President on all civilized nations to join in the effort to stop the monster dictator who at any moment is bound to gas more babies.
There's good news and bad news for the Trump movement.
First, the good: it's obvious from Trump's history of shouting down military adventurists, specifically about Syria / Assad / false flag chemical attacks, that he did not undertake this action willingly.
If he could have done it his way, we'd be at least waiting for an investigation to figure out what the hell actually happened in the attack, and even if Assad were guilty, still weigh the utility of slapping him on the wrist against the risk that it could provoke nuclear WWIII. Small probabilities multiplied by enormously negative magnitudes of the outcome are too much to risk, especially when they're only counterbalanced by slapping a dictator on the wrist.
So, we cannot blame Trump for this. Some might call on him to stand up to the military-industrial complex, but Trump is only so powerful, no matter if he got elected by a populist revolt or not. He still has our nation's and our people's best interests at heart, but is constrained by certain political realities -- like an interest group that literally runs the armed forces.
We should not fundamentally alter our view of what Trump wants to accomplish -- only how able he will be to achieve the results, depending on who the enemy is.
Some enemies are weak, and we will make great progress -- those whose only power is money, for instance. They threw all the money in the world at us, and didn't put a dent in the Trump train. So expect all sorts of victories on economic matters -- trade deals (TPP killed within first week, to zero resistance), jobs and manufacturing returning to our country (all the companies he's been twisting the arms of before even taking office), and so on.
The open borders crowd has also proven weak, only able to obstruct with district court judges who will get overruled by the Supreme Court, or at worst can be ignored while Trump gives the go-ahead to the men with guns to get the foreigners out of here, and block others from entering. Expect major progress on immigration, including reductions in legal immigration.
The bad news: the one area where Trump cannot just tell the other side what to do is where his own authority lies, namely the monopoly on the legitimate use of force -- the armed forces. That's what lets him ignore lawless judges, if he so chose. That's who would enforce the border with guns, if he so assigned them.
The military has goals of its own, and given its hierarchical nature, the big pushes will come from the brass, who are more like corporate managers than battlefield leaders of the old days. Grabbing highly sought-after foreign territory is their mergers and acquisitions.
If they're going to go along with Trump being the leader of the nation, he's going to have to give them something they want as well. And considering that they could stage a coup against him, they have considerable leverage over him. He would have to rely on his popular support against the military's plans -- however, the military is the one institution that most Americans still trust. So a major showdown against the military, relying on popular revolt to back him up (the military will not wipe out the citizens), seems highly unlikely.
It seems clear that the military had planned the regime change and military intervention against Assad for awhile before Trump took office, given that it's been executed well within "the first 100 days" and is totally opposite of what Trump wanted to occur at any time in his term, let alone so early. They informed him that it would take place, and some pretext would be given, and he would have to go along with it, or else they would weaken or withdraw their support for him in his role as leader of the nation. And what is a President without the full backing of the military?
During any anti-war conversations or activities, it is crucial to emphasize that we are against the adventurists within the military brass who have been gunning for this for awhile, and not against our duly elected leader who has always expressed disgust for that kind of policy. Don't let the war machine's efforts succeed in pulling you away from your champion. Get angry instead at those who have driven a wedge between you and Trump. That would be anybody celebrating now -- warmongers, neocons, media, etc.
For some final perspective, consider our war in Yemen on behalf of the jihadists backed by the Arabians. That had been going on before we took office, and many of the maneuvers must have been planned back then as well. Trump could not just call them off without spending precious capital with the military. When the American soldier was killed in that raid in Yemen, you can tell Trump was disturbed by it, and didn't want him to be there for no greater purpose than advancing an Arabian jihad.
He tried to make it up to the soldier's wife, and to the American people, by building up the raid as crucial to collect information that would deter future attacks. Maybe, maybe not. The point was not a factual one, but a social-emotional one -- to help the American people not feel despair as yet another pointless Middle Eastern war wages on. We can expect him to do likewise with the new Syrian War, although perhaps also with some involuntary propaganda against the other side.
Let's be clear about the stakes here: it's been exactly one century since the last once-a-century war defined by pointlessness and disastrousness, WWI. The foreign entanglements throughout the Middle East, including two nuclear superpowers who are now on opposite sides of a hot conflict, make it possible that some kind of world war will ignite.
And again, it isn't the exact degree of probability that such a disaster occurs -- it is the probability multiplied by the magnitude of the outcome, that determines the expectation. A 1/1000 chance of 1 million people dying is, on expectation, a loss of 1000 people. Unlike the probability, though, the magnitude of the outcome is more or less unbounded -- it could be 1 million, 10 million, or 100 million dead if the nuclear shit hits the fan.
Those numbers make it impossible to support the war, and we need to make that clear to the rest of the American people, by protesting if necessary -- while reminding everyone that we're against the military-industrial complex, not against Trump himself or his broader agenda.