This view of the Middle East comes from a widely respected scholar who cannot be named who has studied the region for half a century. It is, so far as it is possible, a view devoid of propaganda and spin. Bandicoot endorses it.

Donald Trump is riding a barrel over the Niagara Falls. He has just put himself at the mercy of the ‘deep state’ in the US and the takfiris* in Syria. Their joy at what he has done is mutual. The US neocons will push him to drop more bombs and will turn on him if he doesn’t. The takfiris will serve up the pretexts enabling him to do what they and the neocons want.

Trump's worldWhat a bizarre alliance this is, objectively, between besuited think-tankers and hairy men running around the Syrian desert with AK 47s and grenade launchers. If the takfiris were not doing it already they will now be making sure to stock their chemical weapons material in the middle of their conventional arms depots. Putin is quite correct to expect further chemical weapons ‘attacks’ even in the Syrian capital.

What the necons hope to achieve from all this is not clear even after seven years of this war They want to remove Syrian President Bashir al-Assad without having a clear idea of what comes next. Maybe they don’t care. Maybe the destruction of Syria is an end in itself. Surely they know that the only alternative to the secular government in Damascus is the people who bombed the World Trade Centre or their ideological clones, which means ALL the takfiri groups fighting in Syria, all of them, with the single exception of the Islamic State, supported by outside governments.

The takfiri list of hates is a long one: all Shia, Alawis, Christians, gays, unenslaved women, liberal democracy, secularists, alcohol, philosophy, civilisation in general, and even Sunni Muslims who don’t fit within their narrow framework. Can anyone explain how helping these people, which is what outside governments have been doing for seven years, serves the interests of the US and its allies, including, of course, Australia, where Turnbull, Bishop and Shorten have run sheep-like behind Trump in their condemnation of this ‘attack’, without knowing the facts? No-one does at this stage.

The logical, sensible first response would have been an international inquiry, but, no, Trump goes in all guns blazing, 59 cruise missiles fired from two ships in the eastern Mediterranean. The nasty kick in the tail for the Americans is that most of them missed or were perhaps deflected by the Russians. Some that missed killed civilians living near the airfield, including four children, to be added to the number of children already killed at Khan Shaikhun. The damage done to the air base was marginal and the planes were taking off again the next day. How can any of this be sensibly regarded as ‘punishment’ for the Syrian government?

Assad cartoon     Propaganda view of Assad: “It’s my country, they’re my people, I can do what I like.” 

To carry this folly to the point of nuclear war is beyond madness. Yet that is what Trump and his national security team appear to be doing. They might not have lost their minds but they are certainly not using them. Since when did ‘security’ lie in moving closer to nuclear war? Stephen Cohen, the American scholar, professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton University, says the US and Russia are closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuba crisis of 1962.

If there is any disagreement with this it might be that a better parallel is 1914, because of the number of perverse and barely controllable actors in this situation, beginning, of course, with the takfiris. And it’s not just Syria but North Korea that is being threatened. Russia and China are already surrounded with US bases, some in Australia. The ‘exceptional’ state is what it always has been in many parts of the world, especially Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, the exceptionally dangerous state.

The response in Australia has been pathetic – the lucky country again switching to the gutless country. It is not just Turnbull, Bishop and Shorten but the Fairfax and Murdoch stables and the ABC who are parrotting the American line. The same ‘world leaders’ and media that have been supporting this war are quoted (as they were recently on Media Watch) as evidence that they must be right.

Scorn is the response to those who dare to argue that this doesn’t look like an attack by the Syrian air force at all but rather a) the kind of ‘false flag’ operation staged by the takfiris and activists many times in the past or b) the bombing by the Syrian air force of an arms depot where the takfiris were storing chemical weapons material for future use. If this is the case, who is at fault, the takfiris or the Syrian air force. Should it be expected NOT to bomb the stores of weapons these people have been using to destroy Syria?

Hardly for the first time, Australians are being prepped for the possibility of following the Americans into another war, thanks to the folly of a property developer who has now been elected president. Sinclair Lewis, the great American novelist of the 1930s, would laugh his head off. Elmer Gantry, the snake oil salesman evangelist, is now in the White House running the country.

Trump doesn’t have a clue about foreign policy, in the Middle East or anywhere else, but can’t possibly admit the fact because people might think he’s stupid, which, of course, when it comes to building high rises, he’s not. By attacking Syria openly (because the US has been doing it covertly all along) he has broken core campaign promises. Remember no more foreign wars? No more regime change operations, we need all that money back home? All out the window. His enemies in the intelligence agencies, Congress and the media have been sucking the oxygen out of his presidency since the beginning and finally he has caved in.

On the Middle East Trump has been consistent only when it comes to Israel. Even during the campaign he was supporting its unrestrained and completely illegal settlement of the West Bank. He is planning to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, apparently unaware of how inflammatory this will be in the Arab and Muslim worlds. His daughter Ivanka apparently influenced his decision to bomb Syria and he has appointed his stripling son-in-law, Jared Kushner, her husband, as his special envoy to the Middle East because ‘if anyone can sort out the problems of the Middle East, Jared can’. Kushner’s family has donated large sums of money to West Bank settlements: as an Orthodox Jew, Kushner represents a minority community (about 20 per cent) that is out of tune even with the majority of American Jews.

If anyone can’t sort out the Middle East it is Jared Kushner. Camelot has returned to the White House. So go ahead, laugh till it hurts.

* ‘Takfiri’ is a much more accurate word than the commonly used jihadist. Jihad (struggle) is a complicated phenomenon. It doesn’t mean just ‘holy war.’ That’s only one aspect. The most important meaning of jihad is to lead a better life as a Muslim and that does not include killing women and children, destroying Christian churches and engaging in all the other atrocious acts we have seen in Syria and Iraq.

The dictionary meaning of takfir is ‘accusation of unbelief.’ The takfiri is a narrow-minded fanatic who accuses even Muslims who oppose his views of unbelief and who pushes his understanding of Islam to the point where he cannot be considered a Muslim any more but a renegade.

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