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Firing Missiles at Syria Makes Donald Trump a 'Serious' Leader?

Reminder: Donald Trump once opposed military intervention in Syria.

Somehow, firing Tomahawk missiles at Syria suddenly changed people's opinions of President Trump. Now they call him a "serious" leader.

William Kristol said Trump's action "reassures you."

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), long critical of Trump, now say he "deserves the support of the American people."

Politicians from France, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Australia expressed their support. So did Hillary Clinton.

"Why is war such an alluring illusion?" asks Jeffrey Tucker, of the Foundation for Economic Education. "Good intentions are never enough to justify government intervention in anything. This is especially true in war, the meanest, deadliest, and most destructive government program ever conceived. And yet we keep doing it."

Trump says pictures of Syrian children killed by nerve gas moved him to order the attack. His supporters say launching the missiles was the "moral" thing to do. But Syria's dictator killed more children in the past.

In 2013, after a horrible chemical attack, Trump tweeted, "Do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside... If the U.S. attacks Syria and hits the wrong targets, killing civilians, there will be worldwide hell to pay. Stay away."

Fortunately, it appears that these missile strikes didn't kill civilians. But four years ago Trump also said, "What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict?"

What changed? Just seeing pictures on TV?

For years, we've tried to sort out who is on which side in Syria. Last week's attack was an awfully fast switch to military action.

Both Democratic and Republican interventionists focus on Assad as the bad guy. Many say getting rid of him will make the Syrian public less likely to side with ISIS.

Maybe. But they've been completely wrong before about the aftermath of war. In Syria, dozens of factions are fighting each other. We don't know the motives of all of them. Some rebels Assad wants to crush are openly allied with ISIS.

None of this makes Assad a good guy, but it means we don't know what will replace him if he gets toppled. Fourteen years ago, many people thought nothing could be worse for Iraq than Saddam Hussein. The groups unleashed when Saddam fell were worse.

Before that, our support of "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan helped arm the Taliban and eventually ISIS. Today, they kill Americans with weapons American taxpayers paid for.

In Libya, Tucker reminds us, "The US intervened with airstrikes to overthrow a terrible dictator but instead of unleashing freedom, the results unleashed a terror army that continues to spread violence and death ... It is not enough merely to bomb a government or regime into disgrace, resignation or obliteration. It is grossly irresponsible not to ask the question: what comes after?"

We don't even know for certain that it was the Syrian president who used nerve gas.

He claims his regime attacked anti-government militias with conventional bombs, and one must have hit gas that the militias themselves stored.

I don't know if that's true, but I have a hard time being as confident as people like McCain about what's going on over in the Middle East.

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  • CooterBrown||

    Good article. I hadn't seen a few of those old hypocritical tweets. Weird that Donnie's grammar was so much better in 2013.

    So we got Stossel back, now we just need Judge Nap to hop back off Trump's nuts and balance will be restored.

  • Jerryskids||

    You know, if Trump walked down Fifth Avenue and shot somebody he'd probably get a 10-point bump in the opinion polls.

  • ||

    I don't know. I wonder how committed he is to this and how much of it is theatre to get war monger mongrels off his back.

    Plus, if the U.S. deposes Assad do they know who they want to put in there?

    You know the old saying, don't do something for the sake of it because something worse can come up.

  • Jerryskids||

    LOL, that's a good one - don't mess around with stuff that might have unintended consequences that'll bite you in the ass. Ha-ha-ha, you crack me up, Rufus.

  • ||

    YEH WELL IT WAS JUST A THOUGHT.

    But seriously, Russia hasn't really rattled its sabres over this.

  • Memory Hole||

    Just take Trump a his word, he saw pictures on TV. If there are more pictures then I guess we invade.

  • Robert||

    It's all theater no matter what. If they could get it done on a stage somewhere & convince people it was real, they'd do it, but it's cheaper to do the real thing as long as you're not the one paying for the damages.

  • Jerryskids||

    In other warrior news, I see Alabama is working on allowing churches to have their own police forces, which I can't see any way this might be a problem. Unless there's some sort of "equal protection" concept in the law that would allow other churches, including temples and mosques, to have their own Church Police as well, and then you by God will see what doctrinal disputes involving SWAT teams looks like. Why they have no faith that the Lord will protect them - or at least provide the money to hire security guards - I do not know.

  • Memory Hole||

    The power of Christ compels you... to appear at 9am at the city courthouse. Seriously though wouldn't Christ cops violate the separation of church and state. If it's barely constitutional to put the "In God We Trust" sticker on the cop car there ain't no way this shit flies.

  • Robert||

    Would the bill allow this church's police do something that couldn't be done by any other security they hired?

  • Libertarian||

    Supposedly, Trump lost some of his core supporters over this 180 turn. Good. Throw in the fact that the Republicans are, as many of us predicted 8 or so years ago, NOT going to repeal Obamacare, and the midterms may not follow the optimistic script some R's are writing.

  • Underzog||

    We're going into a quagmire, I have to agree with you rhomites on this -- for once. There are no good guys amongst ASSad or the al qaeda resistance.

    "There's no need to fear. Underzog is here."

  • Praveen R.||

    And the worst part of the whole Assad thing is no one talks about how Assad inherited his father's inner circle of brutal scoundrels. I think Assad deserves a lot of blame, but realistically, even if he wanted to tone it down, he has that inner circle to deal with.

  • Robert||

    The only good reason to topple these regimes is that you have a puppet you want to install whom you particularly like for good reasons. If you don't have a marionette, don't pull the strings.

    Assad is judged bad for 1 reason: not nice to Israel. (But who asks what Israel's value to the rest of the world is?) But if you want the Syrian ruler to be nice to Israel, I think you have a greater chance of accomplishing that by some truck with Assad than by helping his enemies. & why should Russia be his only friend?

  • Memory Hole||

    A very good reason, really the best reason to annihilate these dictator scum oufits is to give them a taste of what they've done to other people. Hanging Saddam was too good for that motherfucker he deserved worse. And if an ISIS group pops up we kill those motherfuckers too. Creating the void is almost like entraping monsters. We just need to decide that we're going to lay down some fucking morality on these fucks and then do it until they get tired of dying by the tens of thousands. Or not too. We could not do that too and just talk about healthcare.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Assad is judged bad for 1 reason: not nice to Israel.

    That and he's too cozy with Iran, who we've been in a slow build up to war with for decades (economic sanctions used to be recognized as an act of war and/ or prelude to war, not a normal state of affairs). Syria under Assad is one of the only remaining nation-state allies Iran has. Taking them away would further weaken and isolate Iran.

    In no way is this supposed to be a defense of our policy towards Assad. We should stay the fuck out of Syria's civil war.

  • sarcasmic||

    Nothing is more presidential than killing people. Show me a "great" president, and I will show you a stack of bodies.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Don't be silly. Presidents don't kill people, they have them killed.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    William Kristol said Trump's action "reassures you."

    Speak for yourself, dickhead.

  • Jerryskids||

    It's reassuring to know Trump is crazy within the normal parameters of crazy. Not crazy like libertarian crazy where they just want the government to quit doing 90% of what it's doing, but the kind of crazy where you just flail around like a retarded one-armed monkey trying to repair an MRI machine with a chainsaw.

  • Redcard||

    Drumpf is a libertarian to reason.com Republicans. Because look!!! Leftist, slaver, Obama, Pelosi, Hillary, free market, welfare...

  • Azathoth!!||

    Drumpf!! How precious!!

  • Praveen R.||

    I don't mind a few missiles serving as a warning shot. But in this case, what did it achieve? We even warned the russians and indirectly the Syrians about it. Defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it? And so all we got is wasted money in firing those missiles.

    McCain , Graham and Lieberman are foreign policy jokes with Lieberman the worst and most sanctimonious of them all. Thank god, he is no longer in government.

    Talking about wasted money, why are all the freepers who were up in arms over Obama's travel expenses not saying a word about the ridiculous amount of waste Trump is incurring with his frequent trips to Mar Lago? Devos is incurring a lot of security expenses because of "threats". Melania and her precious son can't be bothered to slum it out in a private school in DC and cost the taxpayers extra money. (no offense to Barron because I doubt he is objecting to a move. his mother seems to be the driving force behind that). At this point, I hope someone forces Trump toi just accept that 400K salary and instead ask him to pay for his own security.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    At least we got a President who knows where Aleppo is so that he can order the airstrikes. How would we look as a nation if we didn't meddle into every regional fight around the world???

    /sarc

  • Redcard||

    Yes, I mean even Hitler did not gas his own people.

    Republicans who were never-Drumpfers needed an excuse. This gave them the perfect excuse. So badly off course had been the ship that ANYTHING would have sufficed.

    Bombing an airfield after warning Syria's ally is hailed as that. Actually, this is the time to give him props for managing to distract from the botched job Nunes did, the stream of failures with his Muslim ban, Obamacare repeal, Funding the wall, and now even tax reform.

    Plus gives him a 5-10 point boost in the polls.

    Only a matter of time before the 3-4 reason.com Republicans posing as libertarians come aboard.

    He has an R next to his name. That's all that matters.

  • Jacks61||

    There is no long term plan. People were outraged (rightfully so) over what Assad did. Knee jerk reaction with potential long term involvement into another conflict.

  • Bruce 6225||

    How is it that this spoiled child of American corporate sell-out isn't much of a pres?

  • Philippe Lemoine||

    Indeed, there is nothing like a short-sighted military intervention to make a President look serious, at least to the media... In case someone is interested, I wrote a very detailed blog post, in which I examine the evidence about the recent chemical attack and compare the situation with what happened after the chemical attack in Ghouta in August 2013. I argue that, in that previous case, the media narrative had rapidly unravelled and that, for that reason, we should be extremely prudent about the recent attack and not jump to conclusions. It's more than 5,000 words long and I provide a source for every single factual claim I make. I really believe it's the most thorough discussion of the allegations against Assad with respect to his alleged use of chemical weapons out there. Please share it if you thought it was interesting.

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