President Trump all but confirmed that his overdramatic missile strike on Syrian Arab Airforce’s base at al-Shayrat was nothing but a one-off publicity stunt when he took to Twitter to engage in a little back-patting with the U.S. Navy.
Far from laying out any kind of coherent plan for his administration’s Syria policy, articulating what the next steps might be, or detailing any kind of follow-up, Trump instead did what he does best – pose for pictures and engage in some disgustingly naked faux-patriotism.
The The US Navy and Trump congratulated each other on Twitter and made sure these pictures were prominently disseminated to the “fake news media.”
Never mind that the al-Shayrat airfield was up and operating barely twelve hours after the strikes hit. Never mind that dictator Bashar al-Assad was once again viciously bombing the same town, Khan Sheikhoun, which he had bombed with sarin gas a few days prior – from the very airfield Trump spent $100 million to “destroy.” Never mind that Assad reportedly dropped chlorine bombs on the town of al-Qaboun the day after the Trump strike.
Never mind any of that, says Trump. Look upon this, gullible people of America. Here is a picture of the rocket’s red glare; the bombs bursting in air at night, highlighting the American flag. Here is the literal representation of the national anthem. Here are some pictures of Trump safe on Air Force One speaking with naval officers as POTUS flies to his next golf game. The messaging could not be more obvious.
While we certainly aren’t criticizing the Navy for following orders, it could not be more evident that this entire charade was nothing more than an excuse for Trump to look “decisive” and “strong” in front of the Chinese premier, to earn himself some cheap points from the media, for whom a little conflict is always good for ratings, and to differentiate himself from President Obama.
It should come out as no surprise that Trump’s approval ratings have held steady for the three days since his Syria strike, proving that it had accomplished all it was intended to.
Chinese state media outlet Xinhua called him out to his face on Sunday, saying that “the strike [was] the act of a weakened politician who needed to flex his muscles.” It’s shocking to see the media of one of our international rivals correctly describe the situation while the American media falls over itself in its rush to praise Trump and struggles to contain their palpable arousal at the thought of pummelling a war-torn nation with bombs.
We must stop entertaining this ridiculous nonsense. Trump’s penchant for using grand gestures to mask the absence of any actual achievements or coherent policy is well-documented at this point, and we cannot keep falling for his primitive publicity schemes.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.