Russia’s Disdain for Tillerson and Trump

With Russia’s hopes for détente with President Trump dashed by his missile strike on Syria, the Kremlin looks askance at visiting Secretary of State Tillerson who it feels played the Colin Powell role for his boss, says Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow was supposed to prepare the way for a Trump-Putin summit either as a self-standing event or on the sidelines of the next G-20 meeting in Germany. The hope was that the summit would consolidate the turn toward normalization of relations that President Trump had promised in his electoral campaign.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivering a statement condemning the Syrian government on April 11, 2017. (Screen shot from state.gov)

But the 180-degree reversal in the foreign policy of the Trump administration marked by the launch of a missile strike on Syria last week changed the expectations for Tillerson’s visit dramatically, to the point that one of the most widely respected Russian political observers, Director of the Near East Institute Yevgeny Satanovsky, questioned why Tillerson’s visit is still on.

“It is not clear why Tillerson is coming,” Satanovsky said. “There is no reason at all for him to be received by Putin. Maybe it’s enough for him to talk to Maria Zakharova [spokeswoman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs], perhaps with [Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov.”

Satanovsky’s pessimism was largely shared by other experts and officials who appeared on the most popular Russian TV news programs, including the talk shows Sixty Minutes, Evening and Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov, News on Saturday with Sergey Brillyov, and News of the Week with Dmitry Kiselyov. Always popular with their Russian audiences, these shows drew in remarkably high visitor rates on the internet as posted on youtube.com, between a quarter million and half a million visits each.

Following President Trump’s missile strike on a Syrian air base on April 6, pressure grew on President Putin to respond with his own muscle-flexing. However, the Kremlin’s immediate response was restrained. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs simply announced the suspension of the 2015 Memorandum of Understanding with the United States on deconfliction. That agreement put in place communications channels within the region and rules for conduct meant to prevent and/or resolve incidents between the Russian and U.S.-led coalition forces operating in Syria.

By the evening of April 7, the popular Russian state television talk show Sixty Minutes informed its audience about two essential facts regarding the U.S. missile strike. First, the level of damage inflicted on the Syrian air base at Shayrat turned out to be minimal, totally out of keeping with what one might have anticipated from 59 Tomahawks launched by U.S. naval vessels in the Mediterranean.

Rossiya 1 war correspondent Yevgeny Poddubny presented footage he and his camera crew had taken at Shayrat just hours after the strike. It was clear that the landing strip itself was undamaged, that many hangars were similarly intact, and that the structural losses were limited to six out-of-date MIG23s that were being reconditioned and to some roadways and buildings of minor significance. The report also noted that a relatively small number of Syrian military personnel and civilians were killed and wounded.

Poddubny noted that not all of the cruise missiles seemed to have reached the target. Later news broadcasts clarified that only 23 of the 59 Tomahawks reached Shayrat.

The second fact, which tempered Russian anger about the attack, was news that the United States had given two hours advance warning to the Russians. This would have enabled them to withdraw any of their military personnel on the site and to avoid casualties that would call for retribution and spark a direct military confrontation.

But if the sting of the attack and its anti-Russian message were attenuated, there was from the outset some confusion among Official Russia over what message the strike was intended to deliver and to whom. There was also a great deal of interest in exploring the reasons for Donald Trump’s policy reversal on Syria and on Russia and interest in identifying the influencers behind the move so as to better understand what might come next and what to do about that.

Already in Sixty Minutes, the first authoritative view on what happened was put forward by Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party. For political reasons, i.e., policy disagreements with the current government, Zyuganov is a rare guest on Rossiya 1 and was likely invited on to rally unity among the Russian people in the face of the new threats and dangers coming from Washington.

His reading of Trump’s TV appearance announcing the missile strike was that the President looked “broken,” now in the thrall of the mafia that had been running the U.S. before his accession to power. Zyuganov noted that for once Trump was reading his text from a teleprompter and his voice seemed to be unsteady, highly emotional.

What Drove Trump

The discussion of what motivated Trump to act on Syria expanded later in the evening on a special edition of the Vladimir Solovyov talk show. The microphone was offered first to Vyacheslav Nikonov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Education who is better known in international circles for his years at the head of the NGO Russian World, sponsors of the Russian diaspora.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 10, 2015, at the Kremlin. (Photo from Russian government)

Since the U.S. presidential election in November 2016, Nikonov has appeared regularly on Rossiya 1 as a consistent advocate of Donald Trump in the expectation of very positive changes in U.S. foreign policy. But he was now caught out.

Nikonov said Trump was responding to popular outrage over pictures of children gassed to death that were featured on U.S. mass media so it appeared to Americans that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was poisoning his own people. However, if the villain in the piece was the media for an exploitative presentation, Nikonov acknowledged that there were aspects that were more generally disturbing, in particular, that Russian servicemen could have been on the base under attack. It seemed as if the right hand in America did not know what the left was doing and these contradictions do not bode well.

Igor Morozov, member of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, reminded the Solovyov audience that the idea of attacking Syrian military infrastructure was not something dreamed up at the last second by the Trump administration. Its author was General James Mattis when he was U.S. Commander in the Middle East in 2013 and was removed for promoting policies that contradicted President Obama’s desire to withdraw from war operations in the region, taking down the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now Mattis is the Secretary of Defense and the cruise missile attack on the Shayrat air force base comes from his playbook.

In News on Saturday, host Sergey Brilyov remarked how ineffective the U.S. missile strike was in military terms, suggesting that it must be seen as a “signal” And that raised the question of a signal to whom? By process of exclusion, Brilyov recommended to his audience two possible addressees: China and the United States itself.

For Chinese President Xi, news of the American strike on Syria was delivered by Trump in the course of the state visit at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. The blunt warning was that if Xi does not help to rein in the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, the United States would act on its own as it had just done in Syria.

But in Brilyov’s view the more important audience for Trump’s gesture was within the United States, within the political establishment, where he was fighting a desperate rearguard battle for his domestic policies against resistance from both hardline Republicans opposed to his foreign policy objectives and the whole of the Democratic Party.

Dmitry Kiselyov, Russia’s most senior news presenter, characterized Trump as a “tabula rasa,” without any experience in international politics who was now using America’s vast military potential to create a very dangerous situation. On his News of the Week program on Sunday evening, Kiselyov featured war correspondent Yevgeny Poddubny reporting again from the Shayrat air base and explaining how it was once again operational.

Poddubny also showed off the piles of canisters at the base which appeared in previous telecasts from the air field and were claimed by some Western media to represent the chemical warfare munitions stored there by the Assad regime. He carefully explained that these containers are standard issue and are used to load all kinds of munitions onto fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, so that they have no relation whatsoever to chemical weapons which were nowhere to be seen at the base.

Kiselyov detailed at length the about-face of U.S. foreign policy on Syrian “regime change” and the reversal on efforts to join with Russia to fight terrorism. Now, objectively, the United States was fighting on the side of the terrorists. All of this meant that Trump would fail as a “deal maker” with Russia, that it was improbable he could patch things up with Russia.

Kiselyov called the U.S. President’s action “impulsive” and unsupported by facts. It was done in the context of U.S. domestic political warfare. Trump’s entourage was changing, with strategic political adviser Steve Bannon being shunted to one side and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner rising in prominence.

Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

Kiselyov reserved special scorn for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nicki Haley. He pulled up on screen both her accusations against Assad and the riposte from Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Vladimir Safronkov that the United States was afraid of an independent investigation into the chemical incident in Idlib because it would not support their narrative.

Kiselyov concluded his reportage on the U.S. attack with harsh words, condemning what he called a prima facie case of U.S. aggression. It was not a reaction to any concrete event but was taken “due to the total failure of Donald Trump’s policies at home.”

But he said Russia would react with reason and caution: “It is clear no one intends to declare war on the U.S. But we cannot let this whole affair pass without practical response.”

Specifically, he called for the U.N. Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate the situation in Syria. They are the people who oversaw the removal and destruction of Assad’s chemical arsenal and production facilities, for which they won a Nobel Prize for Peace. Now they should be put back to work, he said.

Finally, Kiselyov ran a short interview with Yevgeny Satanovsky that summed up nicely the thinking of his peers: “All U.S. foreign policy actions are based on domestic political considerations. That is why they are so idiotic.”

The discussion of Trump’s missile strike continued on the Sunday Evening show of Vladimir Solovyov. After pointing to rumors of U.S. plans to destroy the North Korean regime with a similar attack, the host kicked off the discussion with a neat summary for his panel of how the U.S. is approaching world governance today: “The U.S. by itself decides which countries can exist, which cannot; which leaders will rule and who must be liquidated. The U.N. Security Council is not needed. The U.S. decides on its own what to do.”

A Cornered Trump

Alexei Pushkov, who was until September 2016 the chairman of the Duma Committee on Foreign Relations and is now chairman of the upper chamber’s Committee on Information, delivered a programmatic statement to explain what he believed happened:

The photograph released by the White House of President Trump meeting with his advisers at his estate in Mar-a-Lago on April 6, 2017, regarding his decision to launch missile strikes against Syria.

“Trump is operating in a specific set of circumstances. The harder it is for the U.S. to manage the world, the more it tends to throw international rules to the wind. Trump has little opportunity to escape from the existing policies.

“The key question [regarding the chemical gas event at Idlib]: why would Assad use chemical weapons against this small town? He is winning the war. No one in the West has asked this question. Whose interests were served by this chemical event? It is good for American hawks, for [Sen. John] McCain, for the neighboring states which want to overthrow Assad. But it holds no advantages for Assad.

“We have not long ago heard [former National Security Adviser] Susan Rice and [former Secretary of State] John Kerry say that all of Assad’s chemical weapons were destroyed. So where did Assad get these bombs?

“Per The New York Post, Tillerson is coming to Moscow to deliver an ultimatum on removal of Assad. If he comes here with an ultimatum, then the talks will head into a dead end. The experience of the last three years shows that the language of ultimatum does not work with Russia.”

The microphone was then turned over to Yevgeny Satanovsky, a leading expert on the Near East who was more specific in his recommendations on what Russia must do now:

–Clean up the province of Idlib, or at least the city of Idlib, driving out the Al Qaeda fighters who are now installed there so that an independent investigation can begin into what happened leading to the poison gas deaths.

–Since the U.S. clearly wants to take the Assad government’s sole remaining enclave in Eastern Syria at Dar Ezzor and turn it over to the terrorists, Russia must do its best now to break the blockade there

–Tillerson must be approached very carefully. See whether he has come to negotiate or just to conclude with a press conference at which he tells the media that Russia is hopeless, that the U.S. cannot work with Moscow, and that the U.S. will now deal with North Korea and everywhere else on its own.

Among the other panelists on the Sunday Evening show, retired Lt. General Yevgeny Buzhinsky dealt with the question of the forewarning which the Russians received from the United States before the missile launch, saying:

“Trump is sitting on two stools. This is very sad. Yes, the U.S. gave us one and a half hours, maybe two hours of advance warning of the attack. But how?

“There are several lines of communication between us. There is a Chief of General Staff to Chief of General Staff line, which is very fast. This was not used. Instead they used a line of communications set up by the 2015 Deconfliction Memorandum of Understanding, at the regional level, between Americans in Jordan and Russians in Syria.

“The message on the impending attack was sent to the U.S. command in Jordan in the middle of the night and the duty officer was in no rush to forward it to his Russian counterpart in Syria. The duty officer there sent it to Moscow, to the Ministry of Defense, which also did not rush to respond or to pass the message to the Syrians. Net result: the two hours was barely enough for the Russians to take necessary precautionary measures. The Russian Ministry was furious.”

No doubt this explains why the first Russian reaction to the whole affair was to suspend the Deconfliction Memorandum.

The Chemical Canard

Yakov Kedmi, another panelist on Skype from Tel Aviv, offered insights into why the allegations of a Syrian government chemical weapon attack was nothing more than a canard, an unfounded rumor.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross fires a tomahawk land attack missile from the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price)

Kedmi is a former Soviet citizen, one of the first Soviet Jews to demand and finally receive permission to leave the country for Israel at the end of the 1970s. In Israel he joined the intelligence services where he had a full career. Until three years ago, he was persona non grata in Russia but has since established a niche on Russian television as a valued expert on Middle East security questions.

He said: “What is strange here is that if the Syrians used this [air] base to attack Idlib with chemical weapons, then there should be a bunker of such weapons at the base. That would be very easy to detect using the intelligence means available – satellite images, drones, etc.

“Israel follows all movements of munitions to and in Syria going to Hezbollah. We know which trucks are carrying what and where. The United States surely knows the same about what interests it. Yet when speaking of the attack on the base the Americans did not identify any bunker or location for such weapons. Supposedly they are still looking. This shows it is a canard.

“As for the Israeli government, they say Amen to whatever stupidities the Americans say. That is the situation in our country.”

Overall, Official Russia seems to have calmly adopted the cynical interpretation that Donald Trump bombed the Syrian air base on the basis of a manufactured pretext in order to gain the upper hand in his bitter fight with hardline Republicans and the entire Democratic Party over Russia-gate and to advance his domestic political agenda.

If this interpretation is true and is eventually revealed to the American people, they are not likely to appreciate Trump’s cynicism. If he launched a missile attack on Syria based on a lie, Trump would have squandered his political capital with those who voted for him and for his promised pro-détente foreign policy. It is now improbable that he will win them back.

At the same time, Trump has not shed for long the dogs that have been snarling and nipping at his heels. Already Sen. McCain has blamed the supposed chemical attack on Trump’s earlier repudiation of “regime change” in Syria.

Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations on Feb. 5. 2003, citing satellite photos which supposedly proved that Iraq had WMD, but the evidence proved bogus.

Donald Trump’s moral standing was never very high, even among his supporters. But the recruitment of former Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson was seen as a victory for decency. Tillerson’s prepared remarks delivered at the opening of his confirmation hearings were crystal clear and bracing. He alluded to his training as an engineer who always followed the facts where they led him.

However, by loyally carrying the water for his boss on the alleged Syrian chemical attack, Tillerson has also damaged his credibility, drawing comparisons to Secretary of State Colin Powell who presented President George W. Bush’s bogus case for invading Iraq to the United Nations.

Patently, in this current matter of state importance, indeed a matter that bears on war and peace, Tillerson did nothing to establish the facts. Now, he brings his tattered credibility to Moscow where he will face Russian officials who no longer believe that they can trust the Trump administration.

Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015

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91 comments for “Russia’s Disdain for Tillerson and Trump

  1. April 11, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    A number of countries were invaded by the Western War Criminals and their allies:

    Who Will Bring Them To Justice For Crimes Against Humanity?

    Who will bring them to justice for crimes against humanity?
    The people who were, and are, the planners of this warring insanity
    The Iraq war was a hellish lie about weapons of mass destruction
    The invasion of that country was a planned diabolical production

    A civil war now rages in that destroyed and unfortunate country
    Hundreds of thousands are dead or maimed, and that puts it, bluntly
    Many others are refugees from this created hell on earth
    And depleted uranium contaminates innocent children at birth

    Libya is another war crime dubbed “responsibility to protect”
    Bombed and blitzed by NATO “allies” with great “successful” effect
    That country is now in ruins, and terrorists are in control
    The “victory” of “honourable” plotters, and men without a soul

    Then the war criminals targeted Syria and started a civil war
    They finance and arm the terrorists amongst the blood and gore
    Then they blame its sovereign government for defending its own land
    These hypocrites from hell: all these atrocities they planned

    Yemen is another country where civilians are being slaughtered
    Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies are the hellish plotters
    Arms, planes, tanks and bombs supplied by America, U.K. and others
    And the population cries out over the deaths of their mothers and daughters

    [much more info at link below]

    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/10/who-will-bring-them-to-justice-for.html

    • mike k
      April 11, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Thanks Stephen.

    • Beverly
      April 12, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your gripping poetry with us, Stephen.

  2. mike k
    April 11, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Russian commentators handling of this affair are such a contrast to the cowboys who can’t shoot straight on our side. Thank God there are still some relatively sane people in the world to buffer the impulsive nonsense coming from the American gov.

    One doesn’t have to be a romantic Russophile to appreciate their cooler and more deliberate style. I’ll say one thing for the Trump outfit’s unhinged shenanigans. They sure get your attention and keep you on the edge of your seat. Not that that’s where I want to be in a real life nuclear thriller! I would rather sit through a sedate performance of Uncle Vanya with a group of quietly appreciative Russian art lovers….

    • Kiza
      April 11, 2017 at 9:00 pm

      George W Bush had his éminence grise in Dick Cheney, Donald Trump has his éminence grise in Jared Kushner. The man in the shadow is the puppet master, the master of illusions for the prolles. The intellectual inferiority of both Bush and Trump made them into puppets of the more powerful and more ruthless individuals.

      If the relationship between the puppet master Kushner and the puppet Trump works well, then Trump will remain the President. If not, Pence will replace him, there must be an on-going debate among the Ziocons which one is better. Since Trump just proved to be obedient, for the time being he will remain.

    • Typingperson
      April 12, 2017 at 12:04 am

      Hear hear!

    • backwardsevolution
      April 12, 2017 at 7:21 am

      mike k – I’m not defending what Trump did, but just remember that he warned them ahead of time, giving them time to get out of harm’s way, and he didn’t even hit the runway. In fact, he appeared to go out of his way (deliberately) to do no real damage. It’s not much, but it’s something to hold onto.

    • Skip Scott
      April 12, 2017 at 10:01 am

      I too have noticed how much more intelligent and nuanced the commentators for Russia are compared to the talking heads we get via the MSM. I suspect that because they are not constrained by handlers like our MSM, and their advertisers/owners, they are free to develop more logical and nuanced arguments.

      • Ol' Hippy
        April 12, 2017 at 3:18 pm

        Just remember ‘our’ talking heads are paid well to entertain and spread propaganda, all for profit for media moguls that reap big rewards when things get dicey. Russian news, and I don’t have a clue how it’s controlled, seems to have more of a basis from actual reality than wild speculations or reporting the “official” narrative.

  3. James lake
    April 11, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    The whole thing was shocking.

    One minute Trump is on TV talking about the beautiful babies.

    Next this over the top airstrike of 59 misiles – that didn’t even destroy the run way.

    I’m still trying to work out what it was about!

    I just thank god Putin is not a crazy hot head – like the media portray him.

    The neo-cons surround Trump who really is out of his depth.

    -what he did was against international law
    – it’s not proven that Syria did it
    -trying to blame Russia – when obama and Kerry were guarantors also of the removal of the chemical weapons.
    -it was certified all the weapons were gone

    If Trump has the evidence why not show it .
    The G7 did not go along with it.

    Russia and Iran are calling for an investigation by the UN / they need to lock down the USA agreement to an investigation, trump has no reason no to or has he?

    • mike k
      April 11, 2017 at 6:16 pm

      By the time an investigation is completed, Trump and his crew will have created so many more serious messes, the Syrian crime will be “old news.’ Besides all Trump has to do is tell some preposterous lie, and his followers will be enthralled.

      • Susan Sunflower
        April 11, 2017 at 7:04 pm

        as we’ve seen with “The Russians Hacked Our Election” most Americans are quite satisified with statements by unnamed “government officials” and “reports” that offer little more than opinion by same.

        • Adrian Engler
          April 12, 2017 at 7:22 am

          In the US, it seems to be quite easy to make people believe claims without any evidence.

          They also use a strange trick that one claim for which there is no evidence is taken for granted (and everyone who does not accept it with blind faith is treated as a conspiracy theorist) and discussions are only allowed about further allegations that are based on this first unproven claim.

          That Russian secret services gave DNC and Podesta e-mails to Wikileaks is taken for granted, even though there is no evidence for this, and in most media, discussion is only allowed about whether and to what degree there was coordination between Russian secret services and the Trump team.

          It is taken for granted that the Syrian government was responsible for the release of chemical weapons in Idlib, even though the facts are far from clear (Russia demands a thorough international investigation, which the US wants to avoid), and there are only discussions about whether the Russian military may have known about this Syrian attack.

          I think this is quite a clever propaganda strategy. Of course, one element of propaganda is repeating allegations for which there is no evidence over and over again until people have the impression that they are probably true. But that alone perhaps would not be enough. Implying something as a presupposition is a very effective addition to this strategy. When there are discussions which are based on the unproven assumption and which make little sense without that assumption, it is very likely that many media consumers get the impression that this unproven assumption must be true.

          • Rob Roy
            April 13, 2017 at 1:08 pm

            Adrian Engler, well said. Thank you.

    • Kiza
      April 11, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      Nah, we can only make statements because if we showed you the top secret evidence that Assad and Putin did Sarin, then we would have to kill you.

  4. Stiv
    April 11, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    Well, yes!

    Of course this is another lilly livered attempt by Trump to deflect attention from “what’s behind the curtain”. Get used to it Amerikkka. Luckily, it was a rather tame exercise that did little damage…except to U.S. reputation….which is already in shards anyways.

    Anyone…and there are plenty here at CN….who had illusions that Trump could get ANYTHING right in an area he has no knowledge or interest in ( foreign policy ) has been smoking some strong stuff. He’s a danger to the world…not just the U.S..

    I dare the imbecile to get his head out of his ass, slow down and start thinking about where he’s headed. Yea, right.

    So all the Trump apologists can go the fuck away, agreed? Nothing can be more “fake” than that.

    However, the main jist of CN lately being “fake news” and poor MSM practices is probably as appropriate as ever, It’s with some chagrin to watch various stories go from stating Syrian use of Sarin as hard fact, to “very likely”, to “reportedly”. Need to get to where UN inspectors can get in there ASAP. Do you think Trump would actually want the truth? He’s shown no interest in any truth except his own. He needs to be taken down and with good reason.

    • Patrick
      April 11, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      It disturbs me that Assad is not categorically denying that chemical weapons were not used. I am not saying he did and I am not saying he did not. I am not even sure how much control Assad has over what the Syrian military will do. It is hard to be hopeful these days.

      • Sam F
        April 11, 2017 at 7:31 pm

        I recall a report that Assad said that this CW accusation was “absurd.”

      • Kiza
        April 11, 2017 at 9:10 pm

        Gee Patrick, you are the biggest MSM/Ziocon sucker on CN, congrats. This is the second time you repeated here this “lack of denial”. If your MSM do not say it, then it did not happen, riiiiight! Have you ever watched any interview with Assad, several are available online, mostly done by EU (US puppet) news crews. Cannot post links here, sorry.

      • Adrian Engler
        April 12, 2017 at 7:36 am

        As far as I know, Assad categorically denied the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army. He said that Syria has not used chemical weapons and never will in the future.

        But, indeed, the possibility that some commanders of the Syrian army may have used chemical weapons without the agreement and knowledge of their bosses and the government probably also cannot be ruled out.

        What I find interesting is what John Nixon writes about the use of chemical weapons in Iraq in Debriefing the President. When he talked with Saddam Hussein about the use of chemical weapons, he said that he was against it and that chemical weapons were used against his will be members of the Iraqi army. First, John Nixon thinks that this is just a common excuse of a ruthless dictator, but as he finds out more, he comes to the conclusion that it is plausible that the use of chemical weapons was not ordered by Saddam Hussein. Of course, that does not mean that Saddam Hussein was innocent – he is still responsible that members of the army had chemical weapons and could use them without having orders from him.

        The war in Syria is very cruel and many people have lost relatives. While the Syrian government would certainly take into account negative consequences of the use of chemical weapons, it might be the case that some army commanders want to revenge deaths and use chemical weapons that were hidden somewhere in areas dominated by Islamist extremists.

        But this is probably just one of several possibilities. I think the following ones should be taken into account:
        – Deliberate use of chemical weapons by Al Qaeda militias in order to get US support for overthrowing the Syrian government and creating their Wahhabi emirate or kalifate in all of Syria.
        – A chemical weapons stockpile of the extremist militias was hit accidentally and gas was released.
        – Use of chemical weapons that were hidden somewhere from the inspections by a Syrian army commander acting on his own without knowledge of his superiors and the government.
        – Deliberate use of chemical weapons in a small town, approved by the Syrian government (this can hardly be excluded so far, but while many media present it as the only explanation, is perhaps not the most plausible one).

        In such a situation, the most important action would be to conduct a thorough international investigation, which Russia demands and the US, as it seems, wants to prevent.

      • Rob Roy
        April 13, 2017 at 1:12 pm

        Assad said he did not do this. The other two times he was accused, the UN disproved that accusation and cleared Assad of any gassing of his people. How ridiculous that people fall for instant accusations by our government. Frankly, I always doubt the first words out of our government about any thing that happens in the world…because it’s usually a lie.

    • Gregory Herr
      April 11, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      I believe 14 Syrians were killed in the missile strike, including nine civilians, women and children included. It may be said that the airfield itself suffered “little damage” compared to what one might expect from such a strike.

      Of course the missile strike was a wrongful, stupid, and unjustifiable act. Trump has his name on this one, but that doesn’t mark him as an American outlier by any stretch of imagination. The particular opprobrium or invective you seem to harbor for Trump is overstrained, to put it politely, “Taken down” might be thought to have some pretty heavy implications. Care to elaborate? How will this get at the root of what ails us? Your post as well might be strengthened with an elaboration of what you think is “behind the curtain” and how the missile strike is related.

      Most of the people who share their thoughts in this forum haven’t been harboring illusions or serving as Trump apologists. That you continue to misrepresent the views of others in this forum is an indication that your understanding is too poorly developed to muster significant contribution.

  5. Susan Sunflower
    April 11, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    I find myself absentmindedly wondering if Tillerson will again be blindsided by Trump either upstaging him or contradicting whatever he has to say (whenever he might say it) as happened during Tillerson’s trip to China wrt some Korean missile launch or other (so hard to keep track). I couldn’t figure out who Tillerson reminded me of, realize it was some generic Jonathan Winter’s square jawed, bull-necked midwesterner of limited expression and intelligence (although I gather he’s considered a more than competent businessman). Nikki Haley make me realize that avoiding John Bolton might have come at the cost of some credibility. I keep having Samantha Power flashbacks … but somehow more celluloid, more cartoonish on a level with Michele Bachman or Sarah Palin. Huffing and puffing about Iraq’s nuclear weapons as South Korea openly demonstrates the need for Nuclear Deterrence as essential in an age of American aggression.

    • Susan Sunflower
      April 11, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      Bingo — Trump has again pre-empted Tillison to be aired tomorrow morning.
      http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-says-we-re-not-going-syria-worst-tyrants-didn-n745391

      • Marko
        April 12, 2017 at 1:51 am

        “We’re not going into Syria,” Trump said in the interview.

        If you weren’t aware before , now you are : Your President is a bald-faced liar.

        I guess you could say he’s simply acting according to long-established tradition. Sill a liar , though.

        • Kiza
          April 12, 2017 at 11:50 am

          But what is going, what does it mean? And who is we? And sometimes are is not are…

    • backwardsevolution
      April 12, 2017 at 7:33 am

      Susan – Nikki Haley is like a clone of Samantha Power. It’s downright scary that there are two people like them out there. And who chose Haley? I’m quite certain that Trump would never have chosen her.

  6. April 11, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Since 911 and Bush and Cheney’s fabricated invasion of Iraq, the US has been completely an utter mess, as well as the rest of the world they ruined. Obama created a new disaster in Libya goaded by Clinton. Trump is a continuation of the mess, elected by the dysfunctional duopoly of the stupid supposedly US democratic government, which is as autocratic as any other they want to blame (all for show). It just so happens that Trump is a wealthy chump who likes attention and stepped into an enormous pile of doggy-poo that now he can’t scrape off his shoes. They’re all like this, the shills purportedly democratically elected, and they become puppets for the corporate and banking masters. But now, with resources getting scarcer as populations are large, the planet full of messes created by greedy irresponsible corporations, and nation states in conflict over scarcer resources, complicated by religious conflicts, the situation is now tighter. And is now made worse by the president of the main superpower of the world having not a clue about anything but real estate!

    • backwardsevolution
      April 12, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Jessica – at least Trump did this:

      “President Donald Trump signed a lifetime foreign-lobbying ban for members of his administration Saturday, as well as a five-year ban for all other lobbying.”

      It’s a start. He needs to put an end to campaign financing, split up the monopolies (media, banking), reestablish the borders, bring back Glass-Steagall, concentrate on domestic issues, stop the wars, and provide affordable healthcare. These are the things I think he is knowledgeable about.

      But you’re right, there ought to be a President’s College or something. These guys need to know foreign affairs, common law, Constitutional law, economics, government, blah, blah, blah, and some psychology would be helpful too. It’s a science. But Obama was a lawyer, had economics experience, and understood foreign policy pretty well, but that wasn’t even enough for him.

      Because above it all, a good President must also possess a real love for the country (I don’t think Obama really cared; he was just putting in time). It must be foremost in his/her mind. I feel Trump (and I could be wrong) does have a real love for his country and wants to do right by it. Whether he gets there or not is another story.

  7. D5-5
    April 11, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Once again much appreciation for Gilbert’s work here in bringing us this report. Versus the bleak wall of what might be going on “behind the iron curtain” back in the days of the Soviet Union, these views he is bringing us are helpful in humanizing the Russians and showing our common humanity. I was particularly struck by the comment of the leader of the Communist Party Zyuganov’s saying Trump appeared “broken.”

    This adjective seems to me highly appropriate, including the reference to teleprompter and Trump’s emotion. We are a seeing an astonishing change from the happy Trump on the campaign trail putting down his competitors and his glib pretence at being a tough guy. So we come to “broken.” This obviously connects to Robert’s piece yesterday on Trump as on his knees to the neocons, but it also suggests something deeper. I suspect Trump is overwhelmed and has arrived at the opposite side of his big ego. He’s lost confidence and hence very likely caught up in a lot of self-considering and traumatic worrying, which is a big cost to his energy and efficiency. Likely he needs to be led, and is being led and told what to do that will make him less consumed with all the criticism including the sad, dawning revelation that he’s not up to the job.

    That this administration made such a huge error as to choose the wrong way to communicate to the Russians the upcoming strike is another indication of “broken.” This is amateurish stupidity. Surely he would have checked to make sure the Russians were forewarned properly and swiftly. This alone has shot his credibility and revealed the shallowness and fraudulence of the man. The Russians are no longer deluded by his pretences.

    I’m left with one question: what happened to those other 36 missiles that did not hit the airbase, since by now it is clear the air field absorbed little damage?

    • Carlton Schreiner
      April 12, 2017 at 12:16 am

      According to a report you can read at a web site hosted by some courageous veterans, which includes some supporting video evidence, the missing Tomahawk missiles were mostly brought down by ECM deterrents deployed by the Syrian/Russian missile defense system. I have not given a link because their site was hit with a cyber attack after they posted their evidence and their site went down for a day before they recovered. The site should be easy to find.

      Given what Gilbert’s excellent article states regarding the extremely inadequate and unorthodox advance notice the US gave Russia regarding the missile attack, we can only speculate about whether the ECM response was automatically triggered without prior knowledge of the attack. Either way, the MSM’s absolute indifference to the whereabouts of the missing missiles is consistent with their pathetic glorification of the missile attack by Trump. What an embarrassment it would be to them if they found out the truth! On the other hand, they would probably just call it another example of Syrian/Russian aggression, and perhaps that is why the Syrian/Russian authorities apparently chose not to rub it in Trump’s face and risk further escalation. I think that was wise.

      The advanced offensive and defensive weaponry possessed by America’s current bogeymen are far beyond what Iraq had when invaded by the Bush administration. Although very similar false flag propaganda is being dispensed now in order to justify an invasion of Syria, the outcome would be very very different than the cakewalk invasion of Iraq! May cooler heads prevail.

    • Dennis Merwood
      April 12, 2017 at 12:43 am

      D5-5, The Sakar’s thoughts in his long analysis piece today are that there is a good chance the USN redirected these 36 missiles after launch to land harmlessly in the Meditaraen Sea. The thought being the US wanted this to be spectacular to the natives back home, but not cause enough damage to provoke retaliation by the “enemy”.

    • Dave P.
      April 12, 2017 at 1:42 am

      D5-5: Your comments are so revealing. You have described it so well, the state of mind Trump is in now. Whenever I watch Trump now for the last month or so, I kind of have sinking feeling inside. That this man appears very puzzled, kind of unsteady too. U.S. is frighteningly Powerful Nation, Militarily. Zyuganov’s comments made me think! All the ramifications of this.

      • backwardsevolution
        April 12, 2017 at 8:26 am

        D5-5 and Dave P. – Trump appeared “broken.” Yes, that’s how he appeared to me too. When he stood at the podium and spoke, his voice was soft, not strong, and he appeared to have no conviction. Overwhelmed and broken, almost as if he was on Valium or something.

        Trump needs to take some time off, regroup, read, think. Then he needs to come back and start firing some people. He knows what needs to be done; he’s just too afraid to do it. He needs to kick some ass.

    • Gregory Herr
      April 12, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      “I suspect Trump is overwhelmed and has arrived at the opposite side of his big ego. He’s lost confidence and hence very likely caught up in a lot of self-considering and traumatic worrying, which is a big cost to his energy and efficiency. Likely he needs to be led, and is being led and told what to do that will make him less consumed with all the criticism including the sad, dawning revelation that he’s not up to the job.”

      Interesting speculation. A man unused to self-doubt finding himself overwhelmed and lacking confidence in his own understanding or abilities. Seems more than plausible…and understandable.
      I wonder how the missile strike operation was presented to Trump, and whether or not he had questions, concerns, or input.

  8. Bill Bodden
    April 11, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Now Mattis is the Secretary of Defense

    Correction: “Mad Dog” Mattis is secretary for war.

  9. Soloview
    April 11, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    A very good summary of the Russian reaction by Gulbert Doctorow! FWIW, I I had a reaction similar to Yevgeny Satanovsky. It makes no sense to hold meetings even at the State/FM level at this particular time. It must have been obvious to the Kremlin that the US position is being improvised from one spokesperson to another, with the Secretary himself represented at least three different positions in the last week, two of them insulting to Russia’s military and humanitarian efforts in Syria. Lavrov should have cancelled the face-to-face, citing the need to study the situation. Perhaps he could have requested a brief from the American side that would explain its overall plan how to resolve the existing Middle East conflicts, and specifically Syria.

    • Gregory Herr
      April 12, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      Exactly. The Americans should have to answer the question “just what the hell do you think you are doing?” before being given a place at a table for grown-ups.

  10. Olga Krotkaya
    April 11, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    I am sick and tired of that craziness!!!! I had hope that with Tramp, as a president somehow, Russian-American situation will cool down and people in both countries can relax for a while. How is it possible with no investigation to blame Syria or Russia??? I have big doubts that it was in official Syria’s interests to commit that crime to bring more problems on their heads.

  11. bobzz
    April 11, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    “As for the Israeli government, they say Amen to whatever stupidities the Americans say. That is the situation in our country.”

    I am uncertain about this, and I have written before: the US/Israel relationship is similar to the painting of the 6-8 year old country girl walking down a beaten path. She holds a rope in her right hand, the other end of which is in a ring in a huge cow’s nose. Israel is clearly the little girl; the big dumb cow being led off to give free milk is the US.

    • Dave P.
      April 12, 2017 at 2:14 am

      bobzz, You got it right.

    • Marko
      April 12, 2017 at 3:37 am

      The prime directive of Lesser America is to facilitate the creation of Greater Israel. The prime directive of Greater Israel will be to span the globe.

  12. Realist
    April 11, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    I thought Tillerson was named Sec. State by Trump because he was gonna make lots of deals with Russia allowing American companies to develop the oil fields in Siberia and the Arctic. At least that’s what the faction accusing Trump of being a Putin puppet claimed. Both Tillerson and Trump seem to have queered those plans for quite a while. U.S. companies are not going to be developing Russian natural resources unless Washington plans on seizing them by force. You know, the West could have had all those resources if they played the game fairly, but now they will mostly be going to China, India and the rest of Asia. Good luck keeping your flats heated in Europe over the cold future winters, idiots.

    • Skip Scott
      April 12, 2017 at 9:17 am

      I’d bet that both Trump and Tillerson have had their “trip to the woodshed”. Blackmail is a very powerful tool, as are threats to your life and your loved ones. Any dreams of deal-making are small potatoes in comparison.

  13. ltr
    April 11, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Compelling essay.

  14. tina
    April 11, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    Face it people. No matter what we would want, justice, fairness, jobs, a minimum or living wage, free guns, healthcare, homeschooling, coal mining, solar panels, …. It will not happen under Trump. But here is the good news. Want to go golfing? Want to buy a condo? Want to make Mr. Trump and his family rich? I can see it now. 2020 Bush good loking great grandson in his late 30’s,
    Ivanka Trump, and Chelsea Clinton. This is in fact our generation. Long live the oligarchy.

  15. Roger Milbrandt
    April 11, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    I am sure I speak for many when I say how I appreciate this glimpse into current Russian political discussion. As an old Canadian, I am reminded of the 50s and 60s when quite open political discussion occurred on Canadian media. Perhaps if people in Western countries were more frequently informed about the character of Russian political discussion it would nudge our media to greater cantor and seriousness.

  16. Joe Tedesky
    April 11, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    What does it mean when one of the most Western leaning Russian leaders such as Dmitry Medvedev say, that American and Russian relations are ruined (I’m paraphrasing)? How confusing must this seem to an average Russian who but not long ago may have had the hope, like many of us Americans who are their average citizen counterpart, that a pathway to peace was possibly to follow a Trump presidency?

    This past Sunday with some of the teenage grandchildren visiting I reminded these young family members of how we have more in common with our parallel Russian equals more than we sometimes take the time to admit to. I told the youth of our family how people all over the world are so much alike that it is a wonder to how there can be any war. How people no matter who, all across the globe are just trying to survive, and attempting to get to the other side only for a humble hopefully comfortable place to finish their workday to go home to eat diner, and then kick back and relax for a while with their loved ones before heading to bed to get rested for to earn a living on another day.

    I’ll just say this before I end my comment here. If Donald Trump has any inkling of an idea that by his releasing those 59 Tomahawk missiles would get the media to change it’s Russia Gate narravative, well he was wrong. The media is back at it, and now claim to have proof that Carter Page was a Russian spy’s ‘useful idiot’. The media is also letting it slip out how Trump was moved to bomb the Syrian Shayrat Air Base, because Ivanka cried upon Daddy’s shoulder seeing the ugly pictures of Syrian children die during the Idlib chemical attack false flag. Add insult to injury the media is also deriding Sean Spicer for his Hitler comparison to Assad. So President Trump just learned another important lesson for his presidency, and that is that the media doesn’t like him, and they most likely never will.

    • Realist
      April 12, 2017 at 12:28 am

      The ALTERNATIVE Libertarian media (Next News, Info Wars, Alex Jones, etc, certainly not the MSM) is now underscoring remarks I heard Vladimir Putin say (through a translator) on RT in the early hours of the morning (with the Italian PM at the podium) that he KNOWS the United States has planned more false flag attacks in Damascus that will be used as a pretext to attack the Syrian government forces. He is clearly saying this because NEXT time he is not going to stand by and let the American missiles hit their targets. Trump’s mouthpiece Tillerson has TOLD Putin to get his Russian troops out of Syria, and that America was going to replace Assad. The next step is when Trump himself utters the words. This is the final step in escalation to all out war. Trump may do so, but Putin does not speak empty words. At the next American attack in Syria, and at the promised American attack on North Korea with the carrier task force steaming purposefully toward the Korean peninsula, we will formally be at war with Russia and China. You can thank the neocons with your dying breath. I recommend reading the latest LONG missive by the Saker to get a clear understanding of the dire straights we regular folks, who don’t have our own personal well-provisioned nuclear bunker, are in. I hope Saker is right about Russia having the ability to electronically crash or turn American missiles around, and that they proved it by deflecting most of the missiles from the Syrian aerodrome. Otherwise, there will be a massacre. Russia shutting off emergency communication with American forces is a key indicator of how serious this is. Sorry, but I think the American government is the greatest threat on Earth to the American people, not any other country or their army. We will get hit only when and because our leaders do something enormously stupid and totally needless. The outrages coming from Washington never seem to end, and we are NEVER given a choice of candidates to federal office who are not i) crazy or ii) thoroughly dishonest. The secret cabal that runs everything from behind the scenes condemned us to the i) “damned if you do” or ii) “damned if you don’t” phony choices of Killary or Trumpty Dumpty. The carnival ride that is the federal government was to be entirely off the rails with a madman or a madwoman at the throttle.

      • Joe Tedesky
        April 12, 2017 at 2:06 am

        About that elite cabal, and without quoting Professor Carroll Quigley, I truly believe there exist a dark force which dictates our decisions. It’s corporate owned, and it interrupts every moment of our day with it’s well crafted propaganda. It’s so bad you are tempted to flip the cause and meaning of everything these conniving reporters report, and believe the opposite. The fake news accusations label which now prevails over our limited trustable news access only makes all news reporting become questionable to its authenticity.

        The Saker is holding company with others. You may recall Saturday and me bringing up veteranstoday Gordon Duff. Well with a grain of salt go over to veteranstoday and read what Gordon had to say about Russia using a ECM destroyer switchs on the Tomahawks that went missing. No matter, you can places bets that there are Russian science right now analyzing the heck out of whatever it was that happened on that night of the great Donald making America great again attack did. Always keep in mind, that just because we spend the most on weapons doesn’t always mean we get the best quality weapons at that…remember the Vietnam era M16 or otherwise known as the unreliable and deadly Jamming Jenny ot Ginney where named.

        • zman
          April 14, 2017 at 10:43 am

          +1 Joe. Ever since the Donald Cook in the Black Sea incident, denied by the US military, I’ve been waiting to see if the claims at VT were valid. Apparently there is at least some validity to them…as 36 Tomahawks don’t just get lost. The thing that Russia has now done with their revoking the comm with the US is that now there will be no way to be warned the US is up to something. Now the Russians will have to view all incursions as suspect and open to immediate intercept. Having said that, the latest incursion , the attack on Deir Ezzor, where chemical supplies were supposedly hit, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds(?)…raises questions about that . What a convoluted mess this is…just when one thinks he sees the direction of things and what to expect…another event turns it upside down. I fear the only thing we can do…is to get our popcorn ready and hope for the best…as the show must go on.

      • Dave P.
        April 12, 2017 at 2:07 am

        Realist – I agree with you. Things are getting very serious now – nothing to laugh about. When I think of people sitting on the table around Trump – recently at his Florida Estate – Tillerson, McMaster, maddog Mattis, Perry, and others, none of them seem to have any tender emotions or feelings. Tillerson has a very hard face, McMaster has these cold looks. All Perry thinks is about oil and guns. And I think how all this is going to end – the actions they have started taking – missiles, threats, aircraft carriers heading in all directions. Things may get very hot very soon. The whole World over there is scared.

    • Marko
      April 12, 2017 at 4:04 am

      ” So President Trump just learned another important lesson for his presidency, and that is that the media doesn’t like him, and they most likely never will.”

      I wish that was what he learned. Trump is the most pathologically narcissistic president ever , and he wants to wake up every day to headlines and news broadcasts proclaiming his greatness – his really outstanding greatness. He just found out how to do that.

      Cuddle Putin – no greatness. Launch Tomahawks – greatness. Lesson : stop cuddling , keep launching.

      He’s being played like a fiddle while being assured he’ll be the greatest fiddle of all time. He can’t pass that up.

      • Joe Tedesky
        April 12, 2017 at 10:24 am

        Marko there are signs, as you so rightly pointed out, that you maybe right. Like a baby who just discover the light switch, and now our baby becomes amazed when the lights go on when baby flips the switch, but what will baby do when baby puts babies little itille finger in the electric socket?

    • Adrian Engler
      April 12, 2017 at 7:48 am

      I don’t think that people in Russia are necessarily very confused.

      Yes, it is true that before the US elections, according to surveys, in Russia there were many more people who preferred Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton. But this was mainly because they disliked Hillary Clinton with her aggressive anti-Russian and neocon militarist rhetoric. Donald Trump’s more friendly words were appreciated, but I think most people did not think he is very reliable, and in the US there are always strong forces towards military aggressions. George W. Bush also campaigned about wanting less meddling in other countries and then launched major illegal military aggressions.

      • Joe Tedesky
        April 12, 2017 at 10:29 am

        I agree, and maybe my wording could be improved, but disappointment in Trump is international. I didn’t vote for Trump, and in many ways he is living up to some of my worst expectations of him, but there was a time that at least when it came to having a peaceful relationship with Russia that Trump showed signs of hope for that. Now we are all trying to figure out what comes next.

        • D5-5
          April 12, 2017 at 12:17 pm

          Evident now IMV Trump’s positions were always postures for audience approval, suggested not only by his inconsistencies but what we now know about is his nearly zero attention to the knowledge he needs, and his habits for simplistic presentations and solutions. A friend yesterday told me he’d heard a psychologist (sorry don’t have name or reference, so take it for what it’s worth) say the problem is “malignant narcissism.” Of course that applies not just to Trump. We’ve had a stomach-turning look at Kagan recently as another in the breed. Narcissism in general has been of American Manufacture for a long time over its populace as the best way to stroke oneself (deservedly of course, with whatever is good for the economy the ultimate cultural value) so that accordingly we no longer have much capacity to think. Satiation is our ultimate goal in life. Someone like Trump is an extreme manifestation of this disease. He believed he knew better than anyone else, was indeed a very powerful player that could instrument what was best (probably for the globe), then it all tumbled down on him, and he had to retrench into a hard-faced protectionism (of himself, that is). Trump may indeed be up against blackmail but I suggest the chief force driving him is his being upset that his ego has been bashed so badly and he has shrunk in his own estimation. Against this perception, anger will play so as “to show” everybody how mistaken they have been.

          • Joe Tedesky
            April 12, 2017 at 12:32 pm

            My wife is a good judge of character, (she married me – talk about egos) and she agrees with you, as I do. Nice wording describing Trump’s persona.

          • Skip Scott
            April 13, 2017 at 7:37 am

            That is a very interesting rationality for his change in posture regarding Syria and Russia, and fits in perfectly with his personality. The only thing is that anybody who paid attention to his campaign rhetoric is seeing a complete U turn on all his promises in both foreign and domestic policy. But then, I’m probably putting too much faith in Trump supporters to actually be paying attention to that sort of thing. Maybe the puppet masters are so skilled that they figured out how to manipulate him without blackmail or threats, just using his personality disorder as leverage. But is Tillerson that simple-minded?

    • Gregory Herr
      April 12, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      Joe, I have a lot of admiration for the underlying humanism you present to your grandchildren.

      • Joe Tedesky
        April 13, 2017 at 1:44 am

        I will thank you, but Gregory I’ll bet you deep down are no different.

        What we should all do from time to time, is when looking at an adult or even a child doing some everyday task or whatever, is think to yourself how that American kid playing with a puppy could be a kid in Russia, or anywhere in the world. Birthday parties, weddings, funerals, delivering the mail, or just anything happens pretty much everywhere. We all need to hustle the muscle to put food on the table. What human never sleeps? Humor knows no race, color, religion, or creed. It’s one leg in at a time for everyone. It doesn’t get any more simpler than accepting that all humans deserve respect. We are the other people.

        My rationale may not always change minds, but at least it makes them stop and think.

        I still have one of those old IBM desk display boards that says, “THINK” and it’s probably the best product IBM ever made to date.

  17. akech
    April 12, 2017 at 12:02 am

    (a) If Syrian chemical stock pile were destroyed by USA in 2013, where did Assad’s army obtain the batch used in April 4,2017 attack?

    (b) If Syrian army had some of those chemical weapons stored at the base hit by 59 tomahawk missiles, then the search of this facility must have remnants/trace of those chemical weapons. Why would Trump’s administration not interested in establishing this fact?

    The US military strategy in Syria must then be that, henceforth, any chemical attack by western supported terrorists will be blamed on Assad’s army. That means, any Syrian military base will be subject to US missile attack!

  18. akech
    April 12, 2017 at 12:14 am

    Why is electing a US president or US congress (lawmakers) really important if the functions of these elected officials are automatically nullified by DEEP STATE?

    • Realist
      April 12, 2017 at 12:37 am

      So we can all continue to pretend that the United States is a constitutional republic with elected leaders who serve the will of the people. We feel compelled to continue to pretend that we have freedom and democracy because we can’t do a damned thing to change the system back and that reality is far too depressing.

  19. Ben Tao
    April 12, 2017 at 2:05 am

    Dr Doctorow I really respect your views but here you are repeating the same cliché of a 180° reversal that so many shallow hope clingers espouse. Trump is a fraud. He reached out to the anti-war crowd because his base could.not get him elected. The time he pivoted was when Kushner started doing intense data mining to figure out what people wanted to hear – those masses of reasonable Americans who dreaded a.Hillary presidency But were equally disturbed by Trump. We told Kushner what we wanted Trump to say and.not say and.Trump read the speeches that were.subsequently written for him. It was excellent market research. That is all.

    • Joe Tedesky
      April 12, 2017 at 2:35 am

      Not to argue with anything you said, but just for the fun of it picture this; at the moment Flynn was kicked under the bus the Donald became compromised. In other words at that moment newly elected President Donald J Trump had suddenly jumped on his sled for the downhill ride. Why even Sessions got kicked to the side pretty quickly with his own Russia Gate involvement which led to his recusing himself from any investigation along these accusations of treason and cavorting with foreign government charges.

      You are right Trump is a fraud, but even more so he’s out of his league. The league he’s in now makes it’s own realities, bombs nations against international law, and has been known to kill presidents where and when needed, and to think a egoistical self described great man and star of the screen was going to chase these DC critters out of Washington…wow by believing in that one would only get you a few discount coupons on buying a bridge somewhere.

      Trump biggest acting role has now been cast for him, and that is for him to believe he is really in charge. I’m not saying this to give him a way out excuse. No I’m saying it because I believe this is what has happened. As far as Trump goes he should ask his wife why she doesn’t want to move to Washington….there maybe the answer, and the smartest of the Trump clan to inform President Hairdo to what is really going on.

      • D5-5
        April 12, 2017 at 12:32 pm

        I would just like to add that the problem isn’t so simplistic as Ben Tao has suggested–he implies we in the anti-war crowd got fooled by the fraudulent Trump and elected him. Tell that to the massive red states where he won. Here in this forum Trump’s inadequacy was widely recognized over many months, but I’m not sure it’s correct to call him a fraud. He was probably sincere, if at the same time deluded and insufficiently qualified with brains to deal with what he got himself into–this versus an “I’ll just pretend to have views that challenge the Establishment.” Pretense and stupidity are not exactly the same things. So, yes, Joe, now his challenge is “to believe he is really in charge.” Of course he’s not, he’s being led along by whomever, because he’s incompetent, and this will encourage his stubbornness and even more stupidity.

        • Joe Tedesky
          April 12, 2017 at 2:56 pm

          D5-5 yes Trump learned recently what those presidents before him learned, as Jack Kennedy experienced in the most awful way, and that is you better watch what you doing. You are probably right that the term fraud doesn’t befit Trump, as much as the word cocky could apply to him. There again maybe that word could be argued over as well.

          What I remember being said on this comment board, was how most would vote for anybody but Hillary. Trump with his soft friendly rhetoric on Russia certainly had its appeal after you would hear Hillary making threats galore after calling Putin a Hitler. So is it any wonder how Trump gained the support of a peacenik? It wasn’t like Trump had to be that good since Hillary was known to be that bad.

          • Ben Tao
            April 12, 2017 at 6:44 pm

            Joe. Your measured comments are wise. There is a spectrum of possibility between fraud and deluded and we will never know the truth. However, please refer to William Engdahl’s extensive commentary on Trump over the last year. It’s hard for him to believe that such a savvy mafia-wed cognoscento as Trump could be so easily fooled about what’s really going on. Putin said Trump succeeded because he appealed to the common man. But look at the incongruity of this golden spoon-born New York real estate tycoon and media star appealing to “the common man”. I just can’t buy it. But I did back then. That’s why I call him a fraud. But the beauty of Trump’s game is that no one will ever know for sure what he was thinking. Who knows if he “didn’t need” to run but just wanted to do something good for the country?

  20. Liam
    April 12, 2017 at 7:29 am

    If Trump really cares about babies so much, maybe he can ask John McCain why’s he financing the head chopping White Helmet terrorists that actually conducted the false flag attack. https://clarityofsignal.com/2017/04/10/false-flagger-al-nusra-front-terrorist-reporter-hadi-abdallah-first-responder-to-chemical-massacre-in-idlib-syria-on-april-4th-2017/

    False Flagger: Al-Nusra Front Terrorist ‘Reporter’ Hadi Abdallah First Responder to Chemical Massacre in Idlib, Syria on April 4th, 2017

    • Susan Sunflower
      April 12, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      Babies are apparently starving in Mosul … and lots of folks on the brink of starvation in Yemen …

  21. mike k
    April 12, 2017 at 7:41 am

    My problem, your problem, our problem is how do we get rid of a totally corrupt tyrannical government? This is the real recurrent human problem in out long human history. We don’t really have much longer to figure this one out….

    • D5-5
      April 12, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      I want to say that if we get through this next stretch of idiocy we should be looking to 2018 and establishment of new parties and support of politicians like Tulsi Gabbard. We can do that by talking instead of violence, and whatever other means are available to support CHANGE. This desire for change has been evident for a long time and was certainly vociferous under what turned out to be the inadequacy of Sanders. Positive thinking, talking, supporting, encouraging, whatever we can toward turning out most of the current bunch in Congress is one way forward. The congress has changed radically, several times over the past ten years. We need a new massive movement, to tap in to that energy that roused up under Sanders and Trump and this time direct it more effectively.

  22. April 12, 2017 at 7:55 am

    The US is an imperialist nation and is guilty of heinous war crimes since Bush and Cheney. Trump, Obama, Clinton, the whole lot of them are war criminals, and ruling, while American citizens of La La Land sit and watch the news from their masters, accepting the “indispensable nation, exceptionalism”. The entire group of Republicans running against Trump, was there one of them who would have changed the neocons’ plans? Sanders might even have gotten manipulated by the Deep State. We know Clinton is one of them.

    This good article shows that Russia’s leaders act with a great deal more levelheadedness than the monsters running this show. I turned on NPR this morning to hear first thing “support for Assad is very bad for Russia” and I switched the dial. Bad, bad, Russia, you’d better do as we tell you!

    Things are heating up, but neither China nor Russia will stand for the US telling them what to do, and I actually do believe the US is going to get a lesson soon. There is unrest everywhere and many people are waking up, even in this country. I am rooting for “the arc of the universe bends toward justice”, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  23. mike k
    April 12, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I should also mention that we need to end the phony “capitalism” meme, confiscate the stolen wealth that is in so few hands, and redistribute it to all of us, who deserve it more than those who stole it from us. While we are at it, let’s get rid of this ridiculous standing army that is bleeding us all dry and ruining our world.

  24. April 12, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Amen, mike, capitalism is a selfish system that is ruining everything. I think all good people need to think about what to do in case there is an economic meltdown, because what this country is doing is not headed for a good outcome and we should get our contingency plans in order. I applaud the BRICS nations with their attempts to get out of dollar control, although that is still fraught with peril.

  25. US Netizen
    April 12, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Great article

  26. Natasha
    April 12, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    I supported Trump really because at the time,
    I felt there was no other viable option.
    It’s clear now that on one hand,
    we have an insane psychopath directing a rogue state called the USA;
    On the other hand, with Trump unmasking so quickly as Hillary Bush Jr.,
    many Americans are realizing we never had any choice to begin.

    Many of you mentioned how Trump appeared during his WAG THE DOG moment,
    is Trump being drugged? That’s what they did to Reagan…

  27. R. Millis
    April 12, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    The experts at this forum Doctorow refers to, provides alternative views to Trump’s 180 degree turn.

    But any informed American who’s been watching the D.C neo-con, military/intel/CIA powers for a considerable time, can tell you, Trump’s volte-face due is what these supra-powes in D.C. do: smooth-talking manipulators who know exactly what buttons to push. Let’s face it, Trump was an easy pick.

    We’re also witnessing a Napoleon-like behavior by Trump: relatives come first; thusly, Kushner. But as Napoleon experienced, “family” can be the crucible ’round one’s neck.
    What a pathetic/chaotic government America has become. Made all the worse by 90% of the general public being complete illiterates about their own nation’s motives/plans.

  28. patriot
    April 12, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Isis is a creation of the cia and the mossad and mi6 and acts as the proxy army of the U.S. and ISRAEL and BRITAIN to balkanize SYRIA. The chemical attack was done by isis.

  29. SteveK9
    April 12, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Tillerson cannot ‘establish the facts’. The Secretary of State serves the President, and executes the policies of the administration. All he could do was resign, or if he knows this is garbage, hope that it will turn around in time.

  30. Zachary Smith
    April 12, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    But the recruitment of former Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson was seen as a victory for decency. Tillerson’s prepared remarks delivered at the opening of his confirmation hearings were crystal clear and bracing. He alluded to his training as an engineer who always followed the facts where they led him.

    I’ve got to disagree with the “decency” part. “Prepared remarks” suggest to me that somebody else “prepared” them for this intellectual flyweight and Big Business Psychopath.

    This guy is possibly at the same “moral” and “decency” levels as Hillary was in the US State Department.

    Which isn’t saying much.

  31. Brad Owen
    April 13, 2017 at 4:21 am

    Just read today on LaRouchePAC that Tillerson talked with Lavrov and Putin and they formed a working group because they share a special responsibility, a strategic responsibility to the World. They will be working together after all. Trump also called up Xi about NK and their forming special relationship. I’m convinced it’s back on track, and the new Silk Road, the new paradigm, the new ZeitGeist is coming to town. The “Blimps” (British Liberal Imperialists) are furious, after all the dirty tricks they pulled to try and keep America and Russia apart, in an effort to play East against West, and Each against all, to keep the Western Empire on top of the heap, is failing to work. The sooner the Brexiters prevail, the better off the whole World will be. The Establishment is losing its grip on us and the World…yay.

    • Antonia
      April 16, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      My opinion.That is why I voted Brexit.

  32. April 13, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Well, if that’s true, the MSM sure isn’t reporting it. A lot hinges on the next few weeks then? Was there a decision that butter would be better than guns? We stay tuned.

  33. anastasia
    April 13, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Who could blame them. They know they have a psycho on their hands.

    They know the US could not conduct an honest investigation in 24 hours, so they already know they are in bad faith. Further, both Tillerson announced publicly for all the world to hear, on three separate occasions, that Putin was complicit in the chemical attack. They called Putin, the President of Russia for two decades and the leader of a superpower, complicit in using a weapons of mass destruction of little babies. They may just as well have added that his mother is a whore. They then went over there to, among other things, ask for Putin’s help with Korea. How would they expect Putin to react to these things? Then, if there were any more evidence that the US is a filthy liar, Tillerson sat atthe press conference in Russia and actually statedagain for all the world to hear that THERE IS NO EVIDENCE that Putin is complicit. Yet, they just said publicly one day before that they had evidence that Putin was complicit. Was Tillerson lying when they told the entire world three times that they had evidence that Putin was complicit or was Tillerson lying at the Russian Press Conference when he said there is no evidence that Putin was not complicit. Here’s another question: Will Putin be complicit if he does not cooperate with the US, and will not be complicit if he does cooperate with them? Is that how it works with these filthy dirty provocative liars?

  34. Fred
    April 14, 2017 at 3:02 am

    Seriously, how could a Mobil-Exxon CEO ever be qualified as “decent.” That quality would automatically disqualify him for the position.

  35. zman
    April 14, 2017 at 10:02 am

    ‘recruitment of former Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson was seen as a victory for decency.’ Only in DC. The rest of us saw him as yet another 1% put in charge of a corpgov dept. These type people are for sale at all times. Decency is the last thing they would be known for, they don’t need to be blackmailed, they helped write the script. Now the Russians know the same thing.

  36. Bill Goldman
    April 17, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    The point about Tillerson’s confirmation statement and his inaction in providing investigative information to the UN or anyone else is well taken. His firmness about being an engineer who seeks the facts becomes as solid as jelly. His demeanor during the news conference with Lavrov was defensive. The Trump reversal of policy must have been embarrassing to him.

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