Ray Goodlass’ Ray’s Reasoning | OPINION, Paril 18, 2017

THOUGH the attack on the Syrian airbase ordered by Donald Trump appears to be an impulsive response to President Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons it also marks an abrupt departure from Trump’s “America First” mantra that so dominated his presidential campaign and inauguration.

So too does his belated support for NATO, his sudden demonising of Russia, and the sending a flotilla of US warships to the Korean peninsula.

Or the cruise missile attack on the Syrian airbase could have been a smokescreen designed to draw our attention away from the fact (real, not “alternative”) his meeting with the Chinese Premier last week achieve absolutely nothing – zero, zilch. No resolution to the South China Sea island building dispute, no Chinese currency reform, no end to the “One China” policy, no reversal of the trade balance to make it more equitable, and no end to American industry (and jobs) being “exported” to China.

Last week President Trump even did a total about face, declaring now, after all the bombastic rhetoric to the contrary, that China is “not a currency manipulator”! (BBC World News, April 13). Really?

And, at the same time, Mr Trump suddenly announced that NATO is worthwhile and should be supported, rather than abandoned. Which may be due to another U-turn, i.e. the rapidly deteriorating relationship with Russia. During the election campaign and in the first weeks of the Trump presidency there was much speculation and justifiable concern that Trump & Co were much too close to Putin & Co, and even that Russia had intervened in the American election. Best friends are now apparently worst enemies.

The Syria and North Korea interventions may be nothing more than Trump suddenly deciding to act ’Presidential’, or perhaps it is the same old tendency to ‘beat the drums of war’ when domestic policy goes belly up, but the impulsiveness in itself is also a cause for concern as it indicates a worrying level of instability. Just to prove that point came news on Good Friday of all days that he had dropped “the mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan! 

With regard to Syria specifically, Trump’s reactive response to the disputed use of chemical weapons could lead to that country’s civil war becoming at best a proxy war between the US and Russia, and at worst a wider regional or even world-wide conflict.

“Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally bomb Syrian airbases with more than fifty Tomahawk cruise missiles is deeply fraught. The horror of the chemical weapons attack in Syria this week requires a credible, independent investigation, not a random barrage of missiles ordered by a clueless President,” Acting Australian Greens Leader Senator Scott Ludlam said.

Perhaps former Labor Foreign Minister Gareth Evans was right when he told the National Press Club last week that Trump is “the most ill-informed, ill-prepared ethically challenged and psychologically ill-equipped president in US history".

Yes indeed. This type of dangerous and impetuous action is exactly what the Greens have been concerned about since the election of Donald Trump. Here in Australia we are shackled to an ally which has no foresight, no strategy, and a deeply insecure and erratic President.   

Which leads to the obvious point that it’s also time to ramp up the campaign that Parliament rather than the PM and Cabinet should decide whether or not Australia goes to war.

RAY GOODLASS, www.dailyadvertiser.com.au