Donald Trump decided to bomb Syria on Wednesday in response to a chemical attack on the Syrian people. Watching the new reports, I couldn’t help but think of an article I wrote just last week about a warning from Noam Chomsky that now looks like more of a prediction.
In an interview with Alternet, Chomsky said that if Trump’s approval ratings continue to plummet we should be ready for “the possibility that there would be some kind of staged or alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly.”
To be clear, by “staged or alleged terrorist attack,” Chomsky doesn’t necessarily mean fake. Speaking to Truthout just days later, the noted scholar explained that Trump could simply take advantage of the situation should an attack occur and “exploit it.”
“If that happens, we can expect that the Trump-Bannon crowd will seek to divert attention in one of the many familiar ways — perhaps conjuring up some threat to American security (or if there is one, exploiting it). Or, perhaps, scapegoating the most vulnerable: immigrants, Muslims, welfare recipients (one of Reagan’s disgusting techniques), and other available targets,” Chomsky explained. “That could turn very ugly. It could lead to the “friendly fascism” that sociologist Bertram Gross predicted 30 years ago. Or worse.”
And then comes Syria. While we are still sorting out all the details, one thing is for certain: Trump doesn’t give a damn about Syrian babies. If he was worried about these people, he wouldn’t have tried repeatedly to stop all Syrian refugees from entering the country as part of his bigoted Muslim ban.
So, if Trump didn’t decide to bomb Syria because he was “heartbroken and outraged” over the deaths of these “beautiful babies,” why would he do it? Simple. Chomsky already answered this question. He did it because nothing galvanizes a country and boosts approval ratings like a war. And it’s working.
Naturally, Trump’s supporters think bombing Syria was the greatest way ever to show the world who has the biggest — ahem — hands. But even Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, are backing the move. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have both staunchly opposed Trump since the very beginning, are applauding Trump’s retaliation against Assad as well.
Trump’s actions in Syria also provide another golden opportunity. Trump and Russia get to pretend they’re mad at each other. And, of course, that will totally prove that they weren’t colluding to steal the presidential election.
It is also worth noting that Trump’s airstrikes were largely a publicity stunt. Trump warned Russia of the impending attack about an hour before the first bombs started flying. And according to ABC, Russia warned Assad. As a result, most of the equipment and personnel held at the target air base were gone by the time the assault actually began.
This is exactly what Chomsky warned us about a week ago. Trump looked at the atrocities taking place in Syria and saw a way to boost his popularity because he’s desperate. It’s all so transparent, it’s sickening.
Featured image via Mario Tama/Getty Images