“I follow him to serve my turn upon him.” – Iago to Roderigo – Othello – Act 1
We like to give any newly elected POTUS a chance to flop like a house of cards, or succeed, contrary to our wildest dreams, before casting him to the hell of buffoons where most politicians seem to reside, or held high upon the country’s shoulders, quite like the sports-obsessed American public does with their saints.
Of course, who among us can claim perfection in our newly assigned responsibilities within the first six months of a new job? Not many, except possibly weather forecasters who, for the most part, are perfect Day 1 no matter their ineptness or expertise.
At six months on the new job, we might just be understanding who the office tattle-tales are, who cannot be trusted no matter what, who is having an affair with whom – all the deliciously deviant things that a corporation runs on, and on and on.
Imagine for a moment the job of a newly elected POTUS. People to know, people to trust – most of whom you’ve never said the wonderfully insipid “have a nice day” to.
We might hope for, in our dreams, of a POTUS coming in, cleaning house, getting his staff in place and everything humming along like the 1968 Ford Mustang that “The King of Cool”, Steve McQueen drove in the movie “Bullitt”. Not likely.
I had an old boss who told me once that the majority of people don’t get up in the morning and think, “Hmm, what new ways can I find to fail at the job today.” Agreed. Yet given the evidence of government corruptness and ineptitude, maybe it’s different in the halls of Washington. Maybe they do wonder how to screw things up more with each new day.
But when you “know”, when you have all the information at hand – and you end up making a bone-headed move – then it’s a bit different.
When I read Sy Hersh’s new piece: US Knew No Sarin in Syria ‘Gas Attack’, Trump Bombed Anyway, I thought, sadly, why of course. Would it be any other way?
The official White House explanation for the events in April of this year was that Donald Trump was moved by the suffering of “beautiful” Syrian babies – the same Syrian babies he doesn’t want to set foot in the United States – and decided to punish the Syrian government for the attack two days after it allegedly occurred. This punishment came in the form of an airstrike despite the lack of a thorough investigation regarding what took place that fateful day in April and who was ultimately culpable (though the Trump administration insisted they were certain that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was to blame). www.antimedia.org
On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.
Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.
The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives.
Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.
The intelligence made clear that a Syrian Air Force SU-24 fighter bomber had used a conventional weapon to hit its target: There had been no chemical warhead. And yet it was impossible for the experts to persuade the president of this once he had made up his mind. “The president saw the photographs of poisoned little girls and said it was an Assad atrocity,” the senior adviser said. “It’s typical of human nature. You jump to the conclusion you want. Intelligence analysts do not argue with a president. They’re not going to tell the president, ‘if you interpret the data this way, I quit.’”
The national security advisers understood their dilemma: Trump wanted to respond to the affront to humanity committed by Syria and he did not want to be dissuaded. They were dealing with a man they considered to be not unkind and not stupid, but his limitations when it came to national security decisions were severe.
“Everyone close to him knows his proclivity for acting precipitously when he does not know the facts,” the adviser said. “He doesn’t read anything and has no real historical knowledge. He wants verbal briefings and photographs. He’s a risk-taker. He can accept the consequences of a bad decision in the business world; he will just lose money. But in our world, lives will be lost and there will be long-term damage to our national security if he guesses wrong. He was told we did not have evidence of Syrian involvement and yet Trump says: ‘Do it.”’
Fast forward to yesterday. We have Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who also serves up dim witted offerings whenever she feels compelled, throwing out this gem:
Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people. – Nikki Haley
The AP reports:
Several State Department officials typically involved in coordinating such announcements said they were caught completely off guard by the warning, which didn’t appear to be discussed in advance with other national security agencies. Typically, the State Department, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies would all be consulted before the White House issued a declaration sure to ricochet across foreign capitals.
Being POTUS is bit more serious than any “regular” job the average American will have, and yet the average American, for the most part, will get enough of the really important things they need to know to warrant keeping that job after the first few months.
Seems to us that it should be a number one priority for any president to know who to trust with information you’re given, especially so with information provided on dicey international events that could lead to escalations where we all could be victims to present day “Iago’s” and their malevolent whisperings. And it also seems that we have a president who either doesn’t care about or can’t judge those whisperings. More troubling is what the consequences of the next “Do it” order that comes from his mouth will be.
Photo credit (front page): Thomas Nast [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: By Official South Carolina Governor’s Office Photo by Sam Holland [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons