Reaction to Trump’s strike on Syria: Media and neocons are happy while his base is becoming worried
President Trump’s decision to bomb the Syrian regime’s airbase of al-Shayrat in response to its supposed deliberate gassing of civilians at Khan Sheikhoun,1 has many ramifications, some of which can be potentially very serious. One interesting aspect of the strike is the reactions that it has engendered among people.
In short many of those who loathed the President are now lauding him for his actions, while among his hardcore supporters, many are rather concerned and rather puzzled by it, and others are beginning to turn on him.
Let’s start with the Turkish response. Rather unsurprisingly, President Erdoğan believes that Assad deliberately gassed civilians and was tentatively pleased with Trump’s actions saying “We find this [operation] positive as a step against the al-Assad regime’s war crimes committed with chemical and conventional weapons. But is it enough? I don’t see it as being enough.”2 Erdoğan’s spokesman İbrahim Kalın clarified what else was needed, “without further delay” the enforcement of a no-fly zone and creation of safe zones in Syria.3
Columnist İbrahim Karagül took a cynical view of Trump’s response, warning that it and its consequences may not turn out well for Turkey. He wrote:4
“Nobody should say that the U.S. did this to avenge the deaths of the children massacred in the chemical attack. The same U.S. bombed schools, hospitals and preschools in the last month with the independent operation authority it gave to the CIA and the Pentagon. Hundreds of civilians, mostly children, lost their lives.
Surely, similar attacks will follow. Hence, we should discuss the truths in all aspects so we are not played once again.”
The Saudis are also well pleased. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud directly congratulated Trump during a phone conversation for his “courageous decision” to strike al-Shayrat air base.5 The Saudi foreign ministry expressed its full support for “the US military operations against military targets in Syria.”
It is also interesting to note that according to Bassam Tawil “A new hero has been born in the Arab world and his name is Donald Trump. And this is not a joke.”6 While during the US Presidential campaign Sunni Arabs were highly critical of Trump,7 his decisive actions against the wicked Alawite Assad has converted these critics to supporters. He is now being referred to as “Lion of the Sunnis, Caliph of the Muslims and Defender of the Islamic Holy Sites.” He has also earned the name “Abu Ivanka al-Amriki.”
Moving on to Europe, a spokesman for Theresa May stated, “The UK government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.”8 However May appears hesitant to back further US escalation in Syria.9
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s response was seemingly supportive stating “In view of the dimensions of this war crime, the suffering of innocent people and the blockade in the United Nations Security Council, the attack by the US is understandable.”10 Merkel, along with French President Francois Hollande issued a joint statement “President Assad alone bears responsibility for this development. His repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own population had to be sanctioned.”11
Donald Tusk president of the EC tweeted “US strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks,” while the European Commission stated “The repeated use of such weapons must be answered.”12 The head of NATO Jens Stoltenberg said: “Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, cannot go unanswered, and those responsible must be held accountable. Nato considers the use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security. Nato supports all international efforts aimed at achieving peace and a political solution in Syria.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded:13
“In both word and action, President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”
The response of the Russia-Syria-Iran-North Korea axis
Not every one on the world stage was supportive of Trump’s actions. Of course the Assad regime prefers not to be bombed for an atrocity they likely did not deliberately commit. Assad described the US strike as “nothing but foolish and irresponsible behavior, which only reveals its short-sightedness and political and military blindness to reality.”14 In an official response he also stated:15
“Targeting an airport of a sovereign state by the U.S. is an outrageous act that clarifies inconclusive evidence once again what Syria has been saying that the succession of administrations of this regime does not change the deep policies of its entity which is represented by targeting states, subjugating peoples and the attempt to dominate the world.”
Syria’s patron Russia also condemned Trump’s actions and threatened that the repercussions of further escalation would be serious. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “This is an act of aggression, on an absolutely made-up pretext. It reminds me of the situation in 2003 when the United States and Britain, along with some of their allies, attacked Iraq.”16 According to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov “This step deals significant damage to US-Russian ties, which are already in a deplorable state.”17 Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, along with Putin, believed the strikes on al-Shayrat to be illegal in terms of international law and he claimed that the situation was “one step away from military clashes with Russia.”18
What is most foreboding is a statement made by the “a joint command centre consisting of forces of Russian, Iran and allied militia alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar al Assad.”19 This group warned “what America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”
The Iranian rhetoric was similar to that of their Russian ally’s. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted “US military fighting on same side as al-Qaida & ISIS in Yemen & Syria. Time to stop hype and cover-ups.”20 Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei commented “What the Americans did was a strategic mistake and error and they are repeating the [same] mistakes as their predecessors.”21 Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani characterized US actions as ‘jungle law’ and stated:22
“the US approach to solving problems will have grave consequences for them; a power which has claims on human rights and logic, is surprisingly equally irrational and shuns its tenets as a superpower. … the US and the EU should abandon their double-standards and selective reactions to the human rights violations and in addressing terrorism, lest their own doorsteps would be targeted by the same mercenaries they once fostered.”
President Hassan Rouhani demanded:23
“An international fact-finding mission should be formed to shed light on the issue. Of course, biased sides should not be included in the mission and the US should not lead it, but the issue should rather be investigated by impartial countries to find out where chemical weapons had come from, who had brought them in or whether there were any chemical weapons involved or not.”
Probably the nation that has responded the most negatively to the al-Shayrat strike is North Korea, which should not surprise us as, according to some analysts, Trump’s actions were most likely directed towards the maniacal tyrant Kim Jong-Un and his backers China. The Norks stated that the strikes were “an unforgivable act of aggression,” which justified their nuclear program.24 A North Korean Foreign Ministry official stated:25
“Some forces are loud-mouthed that the recent U.S. military attack on Syria is an action of warning us but we are not frightened by it. … We will bolster up in every way our capability for self-defense to cope with the U.S. evermore reckless moves for a war and defend ourselves with our own force.”
The Chinese reaction was initially muted, as President Xi was problem caught off guard when Trump notified him personally during a state dinner at Mar-a-Lago of the al-Shayrat strike. According to the Global Times, a communist Chinese mouthpiece, “The US’ decision to attack the Assad government is a show of force from the US president. He wants to prove that he dares to do what Obama dared not” and that Trump “wants to prove to the world that he is no ‘businessman president’ and that he will use US military force without hesitation when he considers it necessary.”26
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded on the situation, “China has always called against using military force in international relations and for preserving territorial sovereignty. It is up to the Syrian people to decide on Syria’s future.”27
Rebels and Islamist reaction
The rebels were pleased with Trump’s actions but want a wider intervention against the Assad regime. According to senior rebel official Mohammad Alloush “One airbase is not enough. There are 26 airbases that target civilians.”28 Another opposition leader George Sabra “The truth is that militarily, if it is limited to this strike, then it has no meaning.”
Oddly enough the very people who Trump has vowed to destroy in Syria, the Islamists are praising him. Labib al-Nahhas, a spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham said “It is definitely a positive development, but it has been very limited so far, and we need to wait and see the next step that U.S. administration will take.”29 However some ISIL sympathizers are skeptical of the attack, with one tweeting “Is this really the impact of Tomahawk missile? The entire surroundings are totally intact. It is a well dirty play between #USA #Russia & Assad.”30
Obversely, one of the objects of the Islamists hatred, the Christians of Syria have spoken out against Trump. Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph Younan stated:31
“It is a shame that the United States administration didn’t wait until an honest United Nations investigation was thoroughly made into what is said to be a chemical air strike in Khan Shaykun. … The agglomerate media and the supremacist policy of the USA just want the killing and destroying conflict in Syria to continue, and this primarily to kill whatever attempt to resolve the bloody crisis”
Bishop Georges Khazen, who serves Latin-rite Catholics in Aleppo pointed out that “the speed with which it was decided and carried out, without any adequate investigation into the tragic massacre with chemical weapons which took place in Idlib province … opens new disturbing scenarios for all.”
US domestic reaction
Now lets turn to the US, where the reactions have been particularly remarkable. The two pillars of the war mongering Republican establishment, Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who were never fans of Trump, have been highly supportive of the President’s strike. In a joint statement issued by the pair:32
“We salute the skill and professionalism of the U.S. Armed Forces who carried out tonight’s strikes in Syria. Acting on the orders of their commander-in-chief, they have sent an important message the United States will no longer stand idly by as Assad, aided and abetted by Putin’s Russia, slaughters innocent Syrians with chemical weapons and barrel bombs.
Unlike the previous administration, President Trump confronted a pivotal moment in Syria and took action. For that, he deserves the support of the American people. Building on tonight’s credible first step, we must finally learn the lessons of history and ensure that tactical success leads to strategic progress. That means following through with a new, comprehensive strategy in coordination with our allies and partners to end the conflict in Syria. The first measure in such a strategy must be to take Assad’s air force—which is responsible not just for the latest chemical weapons attack, but countless atrocities against the Syrian people—completely out of the fight.”
McCain also saw the action as an opportunity for Trump “to reboot with the American people, at least as far as national security is concerned.”33 Graham on Meet the Press praised the President saying “I’m glad Trump did this. He is no longer Obama in the eyes of our enemies, but he needs to do more to close the deal. There’s a new sheriff in town.”34 He also believes that Russia was involved in the chemical attack at Khan Sheikhoun and as such sanction should be levied against Russia as a punishment.35 McCain also believes that the Russians were involved.36
John Kerry was “absolutely supportive” of Trump’s actions and was “gratified to see that it happened quickly.”37 Although not overly laudatory, Trump’s Presidential rival Hillary Clinton was also supportive of his actions and wanted him to get more involved in deterring Assad. She stated:38
“It is essential that the world does more to deter Assad from committing future murderous atrocities. But the action taken last night needs to be followed by a broader strategy to end Syria’s civil war. I hope this administration will move forward in a way that is most strategic and consistent with our values, and I also hope that they will recognize that we cannot in breath speak of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close America’s borders.”
She also called for Trump to target the rest of Assad’s airfields, “And I really believe that we should have and still should take out his airfields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop Sarin gas on them.”39 It is interesting to see Hillary say such things when many of the people who voted for her, the actual democrats and progressives who are at least honest in their beliefs and are antiwar, are now criticizing and demonstrating against the bellicose Trump.40
Not all democrats are supportive of the President. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who in January traveled to Syria to survey the situation there and met with Assad, said “I’m skeptical” that the latter deliberately gassed civilians in Khan Sheikhoun.41 She also gave the following criticism of Trump’s actions, “If the Trump administration has the evidence, unequivocally proving this, then share it with the American people. Share it with Congress. Come to Congress and make your case before launching an unauthorized, illegal military strike against a foreign government.”42 For her ability to think independently, democrats are now turning against Gabbard.43
Republican Rand Paul was also critical of Trump. In an article he wrote, “Make no mistake, bombing Assad means the United States is fighting on the same side as ISIS (Daesh). … Military action is not in our national security interest and should not be authorized. Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer, and Syria will be no different.”44
He also said, “My concern has been mostly that this is an inappropriate way to begin a war, that the Constitution says war begins with a vote in Congress. I think this is a wrongheaded notion, that we just skip the most important step and that is whether or not we should go to war.”45 For his critical stance, Paul’s warmongering nemesis McCain declared “He doesn’t have any real influence in the United States Senate.”46 Paul shot back “So, as long as we have that kind of stupidity [that of McCain’s] involved in the debate it makes it very hard to get to what many thinking people have said, that the answer in Syria is ultimately a political solution” and that “he’s wrong on every other issue that I know of that has to do with national security.”47
Rand’s father Ron Paul viewed the Khan Sheikhoun incident as a false flag arguing “It doesn’t make any sense for Assad under these conditions to all of a sudden use poison gases – I think there’s zero chance he would have done this deliberately.”48 Speaking about the establishment and neocons wanting to use the gassing of civilians to intervene in Syria, he explained “The peace talks have ended now. They’re terrified that peace was going to break out! Al-Qaeda was on the run, peace talks were happening, and all of a sudden, they had to change, and this changes things dramatically! I don’t expect peace talks anytime soon or in the distant future.”49
Some of the US mainstream media has made a remarkable 180 degree turn on Trump, at least when it comes to his foreign policy. When asked the question “It is day 78 of the Trump presidency. What changed last night? [the night of the al Shayrat strike]” CNN’s Fareed Zakaria responded “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States. I think this was actually a big moment.”50 He also said:
“President Trump recognized that the president of the United States does have to act to enforce international norms, does have to have this broader moral and political purpose. For the first time really as president, he talked about international norms, international rules, about America’s role in enforcing justice in the world. It was the kind of rhetoric we have come to expect from American presidents since Harry Truman.”
I must admit that I have trouble comprehended how it is presidential for Trump to bomb a foreign country over unsubstantiated allegations which are likely to be false. For some reason Zakaria, a so-called foreign policy expert, believes such behavior to be consistent with international norms.
Zakaria’s inanity pales in comparison to Brian Williams insanity. While reporting on the al-Shayrat strike, the latter described the launching of cruise missiles from US warships as follows:51
“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean. I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen, I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons. They are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making what is for them a brief flight over this airfield. What did they hit?”
Again, why would Williams wax lyrical about the launching of weapons meant to kill and destroy, even if their use is necessary and justified? What Williams’ and Zakaria’s comments illustrate is the warped mentality of those in the media, who when it suits them, are sickeningly enamored with war, which I guess is easy for them as they sit in the peace and comfort of their studios.
Not all US media people where gushing over Trump’s actions, as it seems that their hatred for him outweighs their love of unjustified military action. Take for instance Dan Rather who expressed his concern that:52
“The number of members of the press who have lauded the actions last night as “presidential” is concerning. War must never be considered a public relations operation. It is not a way for an Administration to gain a narrative. It is a step into a dangerous unknown and its full impact is impossible to predict, especially in the immediate wake of the first strike.”
Maybe the craziest thing was uttered by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell who, even after Trump struck at an ally of Russia in Assad, speculated that maybe the al-Shayrat strike was operation planned by Trump and Putin! Here is O’Donnell’s fanciful imagination running wild:53
“wouldn’t it be nice if it was just completely, totally, absolutely impossible to suspect that Vladimir Putin orchestrated what happened in Syria this week so that his friend in the White House could have a big night, with missiles, and all of the praise he’s picked up over the last 24 hours? Wouldn’t it be so nice if you couldn’t even in your wildest dreams imagine a scenario like that?
I don’t know what it is. Is it a 2% chance? Is it a 50% chance? Is — I don’t know. But what — I don’t think it’s a 0% chance, and it used to be, with every other president prior to Donald Trump.”
I guess for some even if Trump nuked Russia, this would still not constitute incontrovertible proof that Trump is not a Russian agent. It could just be an elaborate PsyOps meant to make Trump look good.
Reaction of Trump’s supporters
Although many of Trump’s supporters are still supporting him, as they currently still believe that their President can do no wrong. But not all of his supporters are so credulous and many of his most prominent backers have been highly critical of his actions in Syria.
When asked about the situation the former leader of UKIP Nigel Farage answered, “I am very surprised by this. I think a lot of Trump voters will be waking up this morning and scratching their heads and saying ‘where will it all end? As a firm Trump supporter, I say, yes, the pictures were horrible, but I’m surprised. Whatever Assad’s sins, he is secular.”54 The leader of France’s FN party Marine Le Pen said, “Trump was elected by announcing that the United States would no longer be the policeman of the world, would no longer interfere. The facts are appalling in Syria. It takes an international commission to conduct an independent investigation.”55
Milo Yiannopoulos called the strikes “FAKE and GAY.”56 Infowars writer Paul Joseph Watson was incensed upon hearing the news and tweeted “I guess Trump wasn’t ‘Putin’s puppet’ after all, he was just another deep state/Neo-con puppet. I’m officially OFF the Trump train.” Although it does seem that Watson’s outrage has subsequently abated considerably. The rather acerbic Ann Coulter tweeted “Media THRILLED that Trump is destroying his presidency.”
The hacker organization Shadow Brokers, who were Trump supporters, in retaliation for the al-Shayrat strike released a trove of NSA hacking information which included authentic NSA software according to Edward Snowden.57 The secretive group released a lengthy message to Trump, opening with:58
“Don’t Forget Your Base. Respectfully, what the fuck are you doing? TheShadowBrokers voted for you. TheShadowBrokers supports you. TheShadowBrokers is losing faith in you. Mr. Trump helping theshadowbrokers, helping you. Is appearing you are abandoning “your base”, “the movement”, and the peoples who getting you elected.”
Pat Buchanan, who may be considered the ideological and political forefather of Trump minus the celebrity billionaire persona and with a much greater heaping of social conservatism, was disappointed with Trump. He called his actions “unconstitutional” and warned “if the president has thrown in with the neocons and War Party, and we are plunging back into the Mideast maelstrom, Trump should know that many of those who helped to nominate and elect him — to keep us out of unnecessary wars — may not be standing by him.”59
Conservative radio talk show host and author Michael Savage, who played a pivotal role in Trump’s election victory has been highly critical of Trump’s recent performance and skeptical of the official narrative of the Khan Sheikhoun attack.60 He even went so far as to ask the question “who got to you, Mr President?”61 The creator of the influential Infowars Alex Jones, who was also pivotal in Trump’s success, although attempting to put a good spin on the situation, was also concerned about how events were unfolding.62
Although some Trump supporters, such have those commenting on the Infowars and Zerohedge websites have completely turned on Trump and no longer support him for what they see as his selling out to the warmongering establishment, most of his critical supporters have not completely abandoned him. They are just becoming increasingly concerned and befuddled by his recent moves which do not seem to be in keeping with his campaign promises of rapprochement with Russia and the avoidance of nation building and foreign entanglements.
Even those who have been very critical of him such as Michael Savage, believe that Trump is still the same man they voted for, however they fear that some of his close advisers have deceived him and are leading him astray.
In terms of foreign reaction, most nations have been supportive of Trump’s strike, however those who were the object of it (Russia, Syria, Iran and North Korea) understandably are not. Domestically Trump seems to have propitiated many of his opponents in the political establishment and the media, as they are hell-bent on regime change in Syria, but such people want Trump to further escalate American military involvement in Syria, and will continuing clamoring for the ousting of Assad.
However while Trump may have silenced many of his critics, he has riled up the criticism of many of his supporters. The latter view his actions as unjustified, as they believe the Khan Sheikhoun attack was most likely a false flag incident against Assad. They also fear that the strike will not be a one and done action but could lead to further interventions and possibly a large-scale ground invasion against Assad. This could then bring the US into direct confrontation with Russia, which could easily escalate into a World War 3 scenario involving the use of nuclear weapons.
This nightmare scenario for Trump voters, was actually what they feared would occur under a Hillary Clinton Presidency, yet it could unfold under the leadership of Trump. Thus it appears that they were mistaken on one of their main reason’s for voting for Trump. While many Trump supporters are very concerned and critical over the handling of the President’s handling of the Syria situation, most have not yet abandoned him.
Whether or not they will abandon him and rue the day they voted for him will be determined by what Trump does next, as will whether the establishment’s and media’s new found praise for him will persist and increase. A good sign for Trump’s base is his reassurance that “We are not going into Syria.”63 We will have to see whether or not Trump keeps his commitment, but one thing is for certain he will not be able to maintain the support of his base and his opposition simultaneously, he can only please one or the other, but not both.
 Did Assad or the Russians use chemical weapons against civilians in Syria or are we dealing with a false flag operation? Is Trump being duped by the neocons? , More reason to believe that Assad did not gas civilians and that Trump has been duped or is even aware of the reality
 https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2017/04/08/no-doubt-assad-regime-behind-chemical-attack-erdogan , http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/us-military-strikes-in-syria-positive-but-not-enough-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111752&NewsCatID=352
 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-08/confused-leftists-slam-trumpmageddon-despite-hillarys-call-direct-strikes-syrian-air , http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/04/08/517278/US-Trump-Syria-Rally