I went to do my taxes on Thursday. It turned out that I owe the federal government several thousand dollars.
So I was in no mood for the news that my tax dollars had just been expended to drop a massive bomb on Afghanistan, one that cost $314 million to develop.
And the prior week we learned that the feds had spent more than $60 million for a cruise-missile strike on Syria.
Someone needs to tell Donald Trump that this is the exact opposite of what he promised us voters.
“We are going to stop being the policeman of the world,” he said.
When it comes to Syria, he said, “Let Syria and ISIS fight. Why do we care?”
Answer: I don’t, Donald.
But what the hell happened to you?
I think I speak for every right-wing, reactionary, America-first conservative in America when I say: Cut out the foreign adventures. Cut our taxes instead.
Later that day I got even angrier when I read a report that was making its way around right-wing websites. The topic was the chemical strike in Syria that led the Donald to order that cruise-missile strike.
The report is titled “Assessment of White House Intelligence Report of April 11, 2017” and it was authored by Theodore Postol, an MIT professor who is among the world’s leading experts on chemical weaponry.
In 14 pages, Postol demolishes the Trump administration’s extended press release claiming proof that Syrian aircraft delivered that gas strike. Here’s the key sentence:
“I have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the U.S. government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.”
Postol writes that “the report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft. In fact, the report contains absolutely no evidence that would indicate who was the perpetrator of this atrocity.”
The central piece of evidence cited in the administration’s report is what appears to be the remains of a rocket casing photographed in a crater on a street where the attack occurred. The rocket body showed evidence of an implosion from above rather than an explosion from within, he writes. (see video below)
The most likely explanation, he writes, is that the casing was placed in the crater and a bomb of some sort was detonated above it.
“The explosive placed on top of the pipe would cause it to be suddenly crushed up like a tube of toothpaste hit by a mallet,” he writes. “Just as the toothpaste would be sprayed out from the toothpaste tube, so will the sarin be sprayed from the metal tube.”
Who could have placed that bomb there? Postol doesn’t speculate. His specialty is explosions, not politics.
And he is among the most respected scientists in the field, said another highly respected scientist, Frank von Hippel of the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton.
Postol is no kooky conspiracy theorist, said von Hippel.
“He’s very good technically,” he told me. “Whatever he says has to be taken seriously.”
After reading the report and emailing back and forth with Postol, von Hippel concluded that there was plenty of time for Trump to have a thorough investigation before launching a retaliatory strike.
“There have been calls for independent investigations by groups like the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” he said. “It would be in the interests of the Syrians to let them have access.”
Instead Trump took a “shoot first, ask questions later” stance.
One obvious question is why Syrian leader would do something this stupid just as the U.S. was getting ready to accept him as a partner in the fight against ISIS.
(Note Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement the day after the alleged Syrian chemical attack: “We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world.” How can the Donald fail to recognize that is a direct contradiction of his campaign promises not to become policeman of the world?)
Trump’s trigger-happy stance gives von Hippel nightmares when it comes to possible nuclear confrontations – literally.
“I had a nightmare about him the other night,” he said. “He really does seem to be impaired in his inability to look at any issue in any kind of depth.”
If he had that ability, von Hippel said, Trump might have decided not to trust the same intelligence community that led us into the second Iraq War with that “slam-dunk” assessment on Iraqi chemical weapons.
“It really is scary having him as president,” he said.
What scares me is the thought of writing that check this week.
If the Donald keeps this up, next year’s check will be even bigger.
ADD: Von Hippel told me the thing he finds most appalling about this attack is the way in which the talking heads and the pundits of the mainstream media termed Trump “statesmanlike” and “presidential” for launching the attack.
“I was surprised,” he said. “He’s presidential now that he’s using cruise missiles in Syria? What happens next now that we’re in there?”
Trump clearly has no idea. He had barely sat down in the Oval Office before the liberal internationalists and “neo” conservatives of the Beltway brainwashed him into adopting Hillary Clinton’s position on regime change in Syria.
(Jim Goad writes: Only days before last November’s election, Trump told a crowd in Florida that Hillary Clinton “wants to start a shooting war in Syria…that could very well lead to World War III.”)
But as “Mr. Paleoconservative” Pat Buchanan points out, Assad is the protector of the oldest Christian community on the planet. Here’s Pat’s Easter message:
“Now, a decade and a half after we launched invasions and occupations of the Muslim world in Afghanistan and then Iraq to bring the blessings of democracy, the people there who profess that Christian faith are being persecuted as horribly as they were under the Romans in Nero’s time.”
During the campaign Trump seemed to understand that we needed to partner with Assad to defeat ISIS. But now he’s got his U.N. Ambassador and Secretary of State running around saying Assad must go.
Trump spent the campaign calling Texas Senator Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.”
I’m afraid we now have to hand that title to the guy who promised he’d never attack Syria and then proved himself a liar upon the first possible provocation.
Even if a full investigation had shown the Assad regime to have been responsible, that should have been none of our business – at least not according to the candidate who promised the U.S. wouldn’t be the policeman of the world.
Even worse, Trump did not even wait for the investigation. He ordered that attack after just three days – despite the fact that it occurred behind enemy lines in a place that could not be reached by investigators.
And he never for a second considered the obvious possibility that this was a false-flag operation.
Just a few days before, the U.S. had indicated a possible alliance with Syria against ISIS.
Why on Earth would Assad risk that to kill a handful of civilians with gas when he could just as easily have killed them with conventional bombs?
Here’s an excellent examination of that possibility by Uri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli Knesset:
“The operation was an immense success. Overnight, the despised Trump became a national hero. Even liberals kissed his feet.
“But throughout, that question continued to nag my mind. Why did Assad do it? What did he have to gain?
“The simple answer is: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
BELOW: The video below shows the crater from which sarin gas was spread, according to a White House report blaming the attack on the Assad regime. Postol points out that if sarin has in fact escaped from the site, both of these men would have been killed by contact with it.