Is the war in Syria a diversion?


LAST week I touched on some issues, which I felt I should also run with this week.
One of the issues was that of contested US elections results and scandals that surround various elections each time a Republican presidential candidate comes into power, while the other was the bullish foreign politics that President Donald Trump is pursuing.
On-going developments in the US, the UK and France are playing out along similar lines to an old US film, Wag the Dog.
In the movie, an unnamed President of the US is caught making advances on an underage ‘Firefly Girl’ (the movie’s fictional equivalent of a Girl Scout) inside the Oval Office, less than two weeks before election day.
Conrad Brean (played by Robert De Niro), a top-notch spin doctor, is brought in to take the public’s attention away from the scandal.
He decides to construct a fictional war in Albania, hoping the media will concentrate on this instead.
Brean contacts Hollywood producer Stanley Motss, (played by Dustin Hoffman) to create the war; complete with a theme song and fake film footage of a photogenic orphan (played by Kirsten Dunst).
The hoax is initially successful, with the president quickly gaining ground in the polls after appearing.
When the CIA learns of the plot, they send Agent Young to confront Brean about the hoax.
Brean convinces Young that revealing the deception is against his (and the CIA’s) best interests.
But when the CIA – in collusion with the president’s rival candidate – reports that the ‘war’ did happen but is drawing to an end, the media begins to focus back on the president’s sexual abuse scandal.
To counter this, Motss decides to invent a hero who was left behind enemy lines in Albania.
Inspired by the idea that he was ‘discarded like an old shoe’, Brean and Motts have the Pentagon provide the team with a soldier named Schumann (played by Woody Harrelson) around whom a POW narrative is constructed, complete with T-shirts, additional patriotic songs and faux-grassroots demonstrations of patriotism.
At each stage of the plan, Motss continually dismisses setbacks in the deception as ‘nothing’, comparing them to past movie-making catastrophes he averted.
When the team goes to retrieve Schumann, they discover he is in fact a criminally insane army prison convict.
On the way back, their plane crashes en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
The team survives and is rescued by a farmer who kills Schumann after he attempts to rape his daughter.
Seizing the opportunity, Motss stages an elaborate military funeral for Schumman, claiming that he died from wounds sustained during his rescue.
While watching a political talk show, Motss gets frustrated that the media are crediting the president’s upsurge in the polls to the bland campaign slogan of: “Don’t change horses in mid-stream” rather than Motss’s hard work.
Despite previously claiming he was inspired by the challenge, Motss announces that he wants credit and will reveal his involvement, despite Brean’s offer of an ambassadorship and the dire warning that he is ‘playing with his life’.
After Motss refuses to back down, Brean reluctantly orders his security staff to kill him.
As the movie ends, a TV newscast reports that Motts has died of a heart attack on his estate; the president was successfully re-elected; and an Albanian terrorist organisation claimed responsibility for a recent bombing, although it is ambiguous if the latter was a true event or simply a continuation of Brean’s fictional war.
In a recent opinion article, Kevin P. Clements, a Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand, wrote that Trump poses major problems to world order.
Trump’s administration is falling apart; he has no coherent foreign or domestic policy strategy and the Mueller inquiry is beginning to expose serious criminal activity on the part of the president and his close associates.
As a consequence, President Trump is showing signs of personal as well as political disintegration.
He is exhibiting classic symptoms of too many stress hormones in his body.
As a result, President Trump is experiencing confusion, has difficulty concentrating, trouble learning new information, and is experiencing major problems with his decision-making.
Professor Clements adds that: “Trump’s decision to launch a missile strike against chemical weapons facilities in Syria owes more to personal and cognitive stress than political or military calculation.
It is a classic diversionary tactic aimed more at boosting popularity and deflecting attention from Trump’s domestic political woes rather than addressing ways of bringing the Syrian Civil War to a conclusion.
It was an impulsive high risk strategy and the fig leaf of approval from Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron does little to give it either Alliance or United Nations legitimacy.”
President Trump is not alone in the diversionary tactics game.
Shortly after the alleged chemical bombings in Syria, French leader, Macron, claimed he had evidence that implicated the Syrian Government in the attack.
Macron also came out in support of President Trump’s plans to bomb Syrian military installations as ‘payback’ for the use of chemical weapons.
Appearing live on French television station BFM, Macron said the US, the UK and France had ‘full international legitimacy to intervene’ with the strikes, to enforce international humanitarian law.
He spoke as France joined forces again with the UK and the US to push for a peaceful path forward to the Syrian crisis, proposing a new UN-backed ceasefire.
Two international papers (The Telegraph and USA Today) had these screaming healines a few days ago; ‘Emmanuel Macron: France persuaded Donald Trump not to give up on Syria’ and ‘Macron: France persuaded Trump to strike in Syria’.
What many reporters are not pointing out is that much like President Trump, Macron has his own problems at home and by playing tough on Syria, he gets some breathing room to try and manoeuvre through the debilitating transport strikes in France.
When one looks at it, the Syrian chemical attack, much like the 9/11 attacks provide an opportunity for a seating Republican president to rally the nation behind him against a perceived enemy who is different and in a distant land.


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