Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 11:08 AM

Assad Gases His Own People … Again; Trump Vows to Punish Him … Again

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Sadly, there’s no denying the groundhog-day spectre of this tragedy.

Dozens of Syrians choked to death after a suspected chemical attack struck the rebel-held suburb of Douma, east of Damascus, with aid groups on Sunday blaming President Bashar al-Assad’s government for the assault. …

Mr. Assad’s allies in Moscow and Tehran dismissed allegations of a chemical attack as ‘bogus.’

(The New York Times, April 8, 2018)

This attack and (unfolding) reaction to it mirror what played out a year ago this week. And it’s worth noting that this timing smacks of trademark taunting by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Assad’s puppet master.

That said, just as she did back then, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is leading the chorus of global condemnation.

To her credit, though, she is at least showing the presence of mind to bemoan the recurring nature of such attacks. Here, for example, is how she punctuated her now-familiar denunciation of Russia and Syria for the atrocities that have defined this seven-year war:

The Russian regime, whose hands are also covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be shamed by pictures of its victims. We’ve tried that before.

(CNN, April 10, 2018)

Meanwhile, just as they did back then, Russia and Syria are gaslighting the international community: On the one hand, they are insisting there was no attack; while on the other hand, they are blaming Western-backed forces for staging it to frame them (a.k.a. a false flag operation).

Unfortunately, this gaslighting smacks of the same diabolical cynicism that saw Russia poison its former spy Sergei Skripal, and then blame Britain. I commented on this infamous poisoning in “Russia Taunting Britain with Brazen Assassination,” March 13, 2018, and “Britain Slaps Russia…on Wrist for WMD Poisoning,” March 14, 2018.

But, frankly, the groundhog-day nature of everything related to this chemical attack is such that I am loath to comment too much anew. In fact, much of what I would say I already said in this excerpt from “Putin Blames ‘Little Green Men’ for Syrian Gas Attack – as Bloom Comes Off His Bromance with Trump,” April 12, 2017.


Only two words explain what Putin is doing here: lying and projecting!

Putin is projecting blame onto phantom terrorists – not only for last week’s gas attack, which he knows his puppet Syrian regime perpetrated, but also for future attacks, which he knows it plans to perpetrate (if only in a vain and diabolical effort to further implicate the phantom terrorists and vindicate him).

But Putin is also deflecting blame for his manifest failure to oversee the complete destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. You may recall that he famously promised to do so in exchange for Obama taking his finger off the trigger, which would have launched many more missiles at Syria in 2013 than the 60 Trump launched last week.

In “The Issue Is Not Whether Russia Affected the Outcome of US Election,” December 12, 2016, I delineated (some of) the many reasons why the election collusion/bromance between Putin and Trump was doomed to implode. The most notable reason for this looming day of reckoning is that Putin will finally realize that, despite his flirtation, Trump’s policies towards Russia (especially re Ukraine-related sanctions) will be no different than Obama’s. …

In other words, Trump was bound to disappoint Putin – just as he was bound to disappoint the poor fools who thought he really would, or even could, get Mexico to pay for that wall. Which suggests that Putin is not nearly as smart as he’s reputed to be.

And the more Trump disappoints him, the more Putin will have to explain himself to all of the Russians he had drinking champagne toasts to Trump’s election. Not least because he had them convinced that Trump was his puppet who he could manipulate to lift crippling economic sanctions in short order.

I cannot overstate this looming day of reckoning for their relationship. And nothing will characterize it quite like Putin unleashing the same leakers of secrets and peddlers of fake news to humiliate Trump and undermine his presidency who he unleashed to undermine Hillary and help elect Trump (i.e., the political execution of the proverb — live by the sword, die by the sword).


My allusions to a “day of reckoning” between Trump and Putin bears reinforcing. Foremost, they were prescient in many respects — as circumstances that finally forced Trump to arm Ukrainian fighters and sanction Russian oligarchs attest.

The United States imposed major sanctions on Friday against 24 Russians, striking at allies of President Vladimir Putin in one of Washington’s most aggressive moves to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and other ‘malign activity.’ …

The action, taken under pressure from the U.S. Congress, freezes the U.S. assets of oligarchs such as aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska, a close associate of Putin, and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov, whose family controls Russia’s largest gold producer, Polyus.

(Reuters, April 6, 2018)

But my allusions also telegraphed the manifest challenge Trump now faces. Specifically, to save his face, Trump must react with punishing force; that is, the fire this time must look more like fireworks than firecrackers. I duly ridiculed the contrived nature of his “pinprick” reaction last time in “Trump Launches ‘Wag-the-Dog’ Strikes against Syria,” April 7, 2017.

Except that, to save his face in turn, Putin must react directly against US forces; that is, he must do more than show that Trump’s missiles had no impact on his ability to help Assad continue bombing Western-backed forces and Syrian civilians alike. I duly ridiculed the we-survived nature of his reaction last time in “Assad Responds…,” April 9, 2017.

All the same, I predict they will both do only what is minimally required to save face without triggering a full-scale confrontation between American and Russian forces … over Syria of all things. This, despite the chest-thumping, war-mongering rhetoric they might hurl at each other. I mean, let’s face it, after seven years of war, it is practically impossible to bomb anything in Syria that hasn’t already been bombed, repeatedly.

More to the point, I’m sure military planners from both sides are already discussing ways to ensure targeting to limit civilian casualties and de-confliction to avoid unwitting escalation. Then, of course, there’s the patently hypocritical way Trump is telegraphing his intent to bomb Syria within days and withdraw all US troops “very soon.” After all, he made hay during his presidential campaign of ridiculing his predecessors as fools for telegraphing their intent on similar occasions. #IDIOT!

As was the case last year, Trump is giving Assad more than enough time to move his indispensable military assets to safety, which might even include relocating them in Tehran. And those assets include the helicopters he uses to perpetrate chemical attacks.

Mind you, Putin understands Trump’s need to wag the dog like no leader has ever done before. After all, it will take “shock-and-awe” explosions to detract media attention from the “stormy” weather he’s experiencing these days, especially with yesterday’s FBI raids on the home and offices of his personal lawyer.

That lawyer, of course, is wannabe “fixer” Michael Cohen. And it appears the only reason simpleton Trump retained him is that his surname sounds like that of infamous mob lawyer Roy Cohn. Trump idolized Cohn.

In any event, Putin and Trump undoubtedly appreciate the shrewdness of emulating former President Bill Clinton’s 1998 bombing of Afghanistan and Sudan in the midst of his entanglement with Monica Lewinsky.

Tragically, when all is said and done, nothing will change in Syria. And chances are very good that it will only be a matter of time before this groundhog-day tragedy plays out again.

Related commentaries:
Trump finally criticizes Russia
Russia taunting
Britain slaps Russia
Trump wag the dog strikes….
Assad responds
Putin blames green men
Putin has compromising info on Trump

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