Syria, North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia may decide the fate of the Trump Presidency. Let me explain.
Soon our president will face the convergence of two idioms. “The chickens come home to roost”, and “He has an albatross around his neck.” Those two expressions are related and they apply to our President.
Chickens coming home to roost is said to refer to an unwelcome homecoming. Way back in 1390 in The Parson’s Tale, Geoffry Chaucer wrote (this is old English for those who don’t know): “And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest.” Chaucer was referring to birds.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that the birds became chickens which the phrase was used as a motto on the title page of Robert Southey’s poem The Curse of Kehama, 1810: “Curses are like young chicken: they always come home to roost.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge revived the imagery of a bird in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1798. In that poem, the mariner kills an albatross, which was known as a sign of good luck. His shocked shipmates decided that an apt punishment would be for the killing mariner to have to wear the dead bird around his neck.
Well, President Trump, your constant refusal to condemn the actions of Vladimir Putin is about to come home to roost and depending on how you handle it you may wind up having a dead bird necklace. Here’s why; everyone in the whole world knows that Russia is no friend to the United States, everyone but you. They have never been our friends. They don’t even want to be our friends. They go out of their way to prove they are not our friends. They have nuclear missiles pointed at us and they support our other enemies like Syria, Iran and North Korea. What part of that is not clear?
From the time of the Russian revolution in 1917 Republicans, in particular, have been warning about the Russians. Joe McCarthy was a Republican, the greatest cold warriors like Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and Reagan were all Republicans. The Republican Party remained anti-Russian until long after the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequently the Soviet Union in 1990. They were still anti-Russian when Obama was President. Then Donald Trump happened and the Russians weren’t so bad anymore. Well, the fact is they are and frankly, they are worse than before. It is both embarrassing and funny to watch GOP Senators and Representatives try to explain Trump. They can’t, but are afraid to admit it. Here’s why it is so hard to explain Trump’s pro-Putin position.
Reports from Syria say that on April 5th the Syrian government not only used but is continuing to use illegal chemical gasses on rebel enclaves. The rebels are Syrian citizens so if the gassing story is true, Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad is systematically killing his own people. At least 80 died including 11 women and 20 children in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. The accusations have been backed by Britain and France but the Syrians are denying that they used the deadly chemical. (news clips below. These videos are graphic and may traumatize some viewers)
- From CBS news http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/brutal-images-of-a-sarin-gas-attack-in-syria/
- New York Times Story also includes video of suffering victims. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/04/04/world/middleeast/syria-gas-attack.html
- Centers for Disease Control description of Sarin, what it is and what it does https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/sarin/basics/facts.asp
For its part, Russia backs the Syrian position saying that the chemical dispersion was the result of Syrian bombs hitting rebel containers of the deadly gas. There is documented evidence that the al-Assad government has chemical weapons there is no evidence that the rebels have any. Hasan Haj Ali, the commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, called the Russian statement “all lies” and said rebels did not have the capability to produce nerve gas.
“Everyone saw the plane while it was bombing with gas,” he told Reuters from northwestern Syria. “Likewise, all the civilians in the area know that there are no military positions there, or places for the manufacture of such weapons.”
In the meantime, the Trump Administration did little to bring clarity to the confusion. Trump described Tuesday’s incident as “heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime”, but also faulted Obama for having failed to enforce the red line four years ago but offered no new policy or even a hint of a response. Ironically, Trump is now faced with the same decision that confronted Obama.
The Russians and the Iranians have been supplying the al-Assad regime with the weapons used to fight the rebels. This crisis sets the stage for United States, Iran, and Russia to be on a crash course. Syria and Iran are Russian allies and have been for a very long time.
That’s just one crisis faced by President Trump. Here’s the second one and again it pits the U.S. against Russia and Iran. Trump has shown open hostility toward Iran, condemning the Obama administration’s deal with that country to prevent them from building nuclear weapons. As mentioned, Russia has been a staunch ally of the Iranian regime. Now Mr. Trump is in a position where intervention, in either case, will place him on the opposite side of Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, and Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. That, of course, means heightened tensions in the Middle East which include Israel.
Finally, the most dangerous of the three crises faced by President Trump. North Korea. And again, the Russians are involved. They have hardly been discussed in the news media, but if we get into a conflict with North Korea we could easily be opposed by both Russia and China. At the same time, Iran could see our preoccupation with North Korea as an invitation to settle the “Israeli question” once and for all.
The Russians are allied with North Korea because they are upset with our response to their invasion and occupation of the Ukraine so Vladimir Putin has quietly been bolstering ties with the hermit kingdom of Kim Jong Un. The Putin Asian strategy includes establishing a closer relationship with Communist China and with North Korea. Putin has publicly agreed with the North’s stand that there should be one Korea, but you can be sure they are not talking about establishing a capitalistic democracy. Russia’s strategy in Asia seems to be one in which he gets cozy with both China and North Korea. There are reports that Putin and Un are already discussing trade and development projects.
The rubber is about to meet the road (another idiom but we’ll leave that one alone). We are about to find out just how chummy Trump and Putin are, especially when you consider that the top three issues facing the new Trump administration include going nose to nose with Putin. It is unavoidable. Mr. Trump is faced with several questions and one of them is not “Who will blink first”, but rather, “Are we going to support the long-standing policies of U.S. Presidents from both parties with regard to Russia or are we going to do an “about face” and join the Russians in their vicious and inhuman approach to world affairs. If so Putin will have accomplished in a couple of months what the Soviet Union could not do it its 73 years of existence.
If Trump does the unthinkable his congress will have to decide what to do with him. Are they up to it? I have no answer, but they sure as hell are going to have to decide to which flag they are loyal.
And from where I sit, that’s the truth