Because the airstrike on Syria was in the 180-degree opposite direction of Trump's message about Syria, Assad, the Middle East, and Russia -- from 2013 through early 2017 -- many of his fervent supporters were struck with cognitive dissonance. The normal human way to solve that is to rationalize, and Trump supporters like anyone's supporters are only human.
Some rationalizations deal only with this particular strike -- explaining how was it a good thing after all, and then leaving it there. They're only trying to compartmentalize this specific incident.
But now there's a more general rationalization, sensing that there may be more foreign policy moves that are not just imperfect or less-than-pure (small magnitude) but pointing totally away from his original message (opposite direction). If the Syrian strike becomes one example among many, then a more general rationalization will be needed to cover all these cases coherently, rather than each one on an ad hoc basis.
Cognitive dissonance goes away more easily when there's a single interwoven story to tell, because telling ourselves dozens of patchwork stories is too obvious to fool our mind, even when it is seeking relief from dissonance.
The one I've been seeing over the past several days, whether alt-right people on Twitter or a gay racist bodybuilding forum like MPC, is that Trump's foreign policy is "Jacksonian" a la our seventh President.
This idea seems to trace back to an article from mid-March in National Interest (realists more than neocons), which was making an argument for where things ought to go, not what their current state was. There were no real defining events a month ago, but there are now.
The basic tenets were building up a strong navy in order to defend abroad our people, our material interests, and our national honor. But then only when diplomacy was not possible, e.g. dealing with savage races in the South Seas, not dealing with the French.
That does sound very much like what Trump has advocated for all throughout the campaign and back to his potential presidential run in 2000.
So how does the Syrian airstrike measure up by Jackson's and Trump's standards?
It fails the most basic criterion of targeting someone who had done us wrong. Assad's regime has not attacked us or threatened to. Nor has his patron state of Russia, who was in the place that was struck. They have not run off with our money or our things, taken any of our territory, insulted us, or threatened to do any of these things.
On the contrary, Assad and Putin were under the impression that we'd be working with them against the jihadists in Syria, whether their branding is ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, etc. Those jihadists and their Gulf state patrons are the ones who have attacked us -- most spectacularly on 9/11, but also ISIS-inspired attacks from American residents. Assad and Putin wiping them out is protecting our people.
By the way, when are we going to launch cruise missiles or rain down nuclear bombs against Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, to avenge their attack on 9/11? Now that would have been Jacksonian. (Don't count on Deep State to favor this, they are anti-American.)
Attacking someone who has not even threatened to attack you, let alone who is helping your interests, is a flagrant violation of the culture of honor, which is founded on tit-for-tat reciprocity -- or being a counter-puncher, as Trump always emphasized.
Jackson certainly never behaved that way against foreign societies. He got us into no military interventions, with the minor exception of sending the navy to thump some savage pirates in the South Seas, who had murdered our people, stolen our treasure, and destroyed our ships.
His only other major foreign policy confrontation was collecting a debt from France, but this payment was owed to us because they had done us wrong by capturing our ships and sailors, and he solved it through diplomacy first, rather than use force right away. Nobody in the administration last week tried to figure out what the hell actually happened in the chemical incident, let alone apply initial diplomatic or financial pressures if in fact Assad were at fault.
Closer to home, Jackson kept us out of war regarding Texas and Mexico. He favored trying to buy it off from Mexico, but they didn't bite, and he denied the option of a military take-over. It wasn't until roughly ten years after Jackson, when James K. Polk took office, that Texas was annexed, admitted to the Union, and defended militarily during the Mexican-American War. Unlike Jackson, Polk was elected on an explicit expansionist platform, through war if necessary.
Jackson did not expand the territory of the Union by even an inch. His main avenue of advancing European colonization was driving the Indians out of American territory via the Trail of Tears.
These are not the actions of someone who goes around randomly screwing with people, least of all the enemy of one's enemies, in order to create a madman persona for frightening others. Jackson was a counter-puncher, just like the real Trump (not the one whose arm was twisted by Deep State into striking Syria).
Many people now are confusing Nixon's madman approach derived from ghetto thugs and warlords, with Jackson's honor-based approach derived from reciprocity. This re-imagining of Jackson's legacy is what allows people to relieve their cognitive dissonance over Trump's Syria strike -- it's what Jackson would have done.
In fact, the airstrike on Syria comes from the stunt-pulling mindset of sociopathic Deep State agents, not the righteous indignation of a counter-puncher like Trump. We will have to wait and see how much pressure Deep State can exert over foreign policy, but for now we have a simple way to judge where the balance of power lies.
The more we pre-emptively attack those who have not done our people wrong -- and who have even helped our people's interests -- rather than applying diplomatic, financial, and finally military pressure in retaliation only, the more we can conclude that foreign policy will be the one domain where Trump's true goals may become subverted, and point in the opposite direction.
The legitimate monopoly on violence that the Deep State has access to, is not wielded by other interest groups like the Chamber of Commerce, immigrants' rights groups, judiciary branch, etc., so it will be full-steam ahead in all other domains. But we should stay objective about foreign policy and not fool ourselves into believing that Jackson or true-Trump are nothing more than a couple of wurlstah gangbangers or mafia kingpins unpredictably knocking people around just so everybody knows who's boss.
Instead, it's time to purge the infection of ghetto norms from mainstream American culture.