The backstory, of course, is Trump’s dramatic flip-flop on his long-standing opposition to U.S. involvement in Syria.
If the scenario seems vaguely familiar, well, that’s because it mirrors the plot of a 1997 black comedy “Wag the Dog,” starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro.
In the movie, the President is caught in a sex scandal less than two weeks before the election.
Conrad Brean (De Niro), a top-notch spin doctor, is called in to come up with a public relations strategy to divert the public’s attention and boost the president’s popularity.
He enlists a Hollywood producer (Hoffman) to create a fake war, complete with a theme song, fake film footage and a photogenic orphan (Kirsten Dunst).
The parallels are so eerie, it makes the raft of conspiracy theories that have sprung up around the Syria attack scarily possible, especially given Trump’s previous adamant opposition to U.S. involvement.
You may recall, Trump tweeted incessantly in 2013, urging President Obama not to attack Syria after it used poison gas in a far wider attack than the one that took place last week.
The move was also counter to Trump’s “nationalist” base, led by White House Chief Counsel Stephen Bannon. It adamantly opposes foreign entanglements. Ironically, it was also one of cornerstones of his “Make American Great, Again” campaign.
That’s what makes Trump’s sudden empathy for the Syrians gas attack victims–to the point of launching a missile strike–particularly suspect.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has killed more than 250,000 of his own citizens with equally barbaric weapons and Trump never bothered to look up from his putter.
Now, on the turn of a dime, he’s inflamed the region and pushed the United States to the brink of war with Russia and Iran– and while we’re at it North Korea and China.
Why else would Trump send an aircraft carrier strike force within missile range of the Hermit Kingdom, except to provoke an incident to justify an attack. Or, he could simply fabricate a provocation.
It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. The military fabricated an attack on U.S. ships by North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin to justify a massive escalation of the Vietnam war back in the 1960s.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin controlled Russian media is doing its best to portray the Syrian attack as a move to support radical Islamists. It claimed ISIS coordinated their own attack with the missile strike. (see below)
The newscast also repeated propaganda, widely spread during the election by Trump’s alt-Right supporters, that the United States, (i.e. Obama) secretly created and supports ISIS.
Now, we know where that piece of fake news came from.
While Trump’s sudden belligerence may come as a shock to his alt-Right supporters, it’s not so surprising given the make-up of his cabinet.
Secretary of Defense and former Gen. James Mattis has never met a war he didn’t like.
The battle-hungry Mattis boasts now that “there is nothing better than getting shot at and missed. It’s really great,” according to reports.
“The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot,” he’s reportedly boasted during speaking engagements.
His National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster is a military strategist who’s based his whole career on waging war.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is nothing if not a war profiteer. If you think war isn’t good for business, just note; the Tomahawk missile company’s stock soared after the attack, according to Bloomberg.
If Trump wants to bring back coal and American oil–and boost employment at the same time–a nice little war, say, for example, like the invasion of Iraq would do the trick.
But why stop there. Let’s go for a big war.
Not only that, but it would shelve all this talk about the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.
To top things off, Trump was so concerned about the attack and its fallout, he immediately went out and played a round of golf.
As Dustin Hoffman’s “Wag the Dog” character says: “When it’s cooking, it’s cooking.”
Check out the videos below, including Oliver’s take on the situation, a trailer from “Wag the Dog,” and a Russian media account of the U.S. strike.
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