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The threat of a US attack has little to do with the use of poisonous gas in Syria. Trump’s real motive lies in completely different problems, says Matthias von Hein.
War is the continuation of politics by other means, said German strategist Carl von Clausewitz in the 19th century. Clausewitz probably thought about foreign policy. For US President Donald Trump, however, the war seems to be the continuation of domestic politics by other means. The more pressure is exerted on Trump, especially the work of special investigator Robert Mueller, the more erratic and dangerous is Trump’s outward involvement.
Still missing a strategy for Syria
The announced attacks have very little to do with the Syrian population. Otherwise, there should be a coherent strategy for the future of that country. But Washington does not have it. Just a week after announcing the unexpected withdrawal of US troops, Trump tweets about a massive attack on Syria, threatens Russia at the same time and dehumanizes his adversary Assad (“animal”).
Regardless of what one thinks about the presidents of Russia and Syria: without them, it will not be possible to end war, suffering and death in Syria. The new presidential escalation on Twitter marks a new low point and shows Trump’s distancing from the norms of international diplomacy.
With his tweet, the “Commander-in-Chief” had responded to a Russian warning: if the Russian targets were attacked, not only the missiles would be destroyed, but also the platforms from which they were fired. That open threat did not come from the Kremlin, but from the Russian ambassador in Lebanon, that is, not exactly from a person the height of Trump. And Russia is certainly not interested in a direct confrontation with the United States. It seems almost forgotten that in the fight against the Islamic State – which incidentally, has not yet been completely defeated – the Russian and US military were closely coordinated.
By an easy applause from his followers, Trump pours oil over the fire of the Syrian conflict. At least there are some American senators who question the meaning of any US attack against targets in Syria. However, since last Monday there is a new National Security Advisor in the White House, the first class hawk John Bolton. For years, he has been advocating a war against Iran. And despite all the disastrous consequences, Bolton continues to think that the war in Iraq was a good idea.
Who dares still to contradict Trump?
The new appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mike Pompeo, also has the reputation of being a hawk. The only opposition could come from the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis. He knows what a war means. By the way, just two months ago, Mattis stated that he saw no evidence of Assad’s authorship of the poisonous gas attack on Khan Sheikun a year ago. And that despite the fact that there was a lot of time to examine the accusations. Now, however, we are facing a confrontation with Russia and Iran, based on little more than some TouTube videos.
It is surprising that the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, is almost the only voice of moderation in the international arena. European allies and NATO partners basically shut up; France and Britain even want to participate in possible military attacks. Europe could soon feel the consequences of an escalation of war, not only because of its geographical proximity, but also because of a new hello of refugees.