If America didn't want a president who bombed Syria, they shouldn't have elected a man with so much heart

Mark Steel
The President’s flaw is that he simply has too much warmth: AFP

What a relief to discover that after all our worries, Donald Trump is full of heart. Now many people who suggested he was a narcissistic, bigoted maniac have realised they misunderstood him and he’s a tender emotional sort, because his order to bomb Syria proves he was moved by the pictures of children attacked by President Assad.

It goes to show Gary Glitter should get hold of some Tomahawk missiles, then he could launch them at an airfield in Syria and columnists would declare: “Maybe we got Glitter wrong, he’s clearly full of heart.” And he’d be more believable than Trump, because at least if he said he was moved by the children’s faces, his track record suggests he’d be telling the truth.

A glance at US military policy over the decades proves the main issue that determines their actions is how much the President is moved by the faces of suffering children. In Vietnam, for example, the North Vietnamese children were quite ugly, a bit spoilt and terrible at sharing so no one was moved enough to stop dropping napalm on them.

Trump must have been extremely moved by the children murdered by Assad’s forces, because recently he boasted he would tell five-year-old Syrian children he wouldn’t take them in as refugees. So if a child wants him to be moved, it’s not good enough for them to just cling to a piece of driftwood in the Mediterranean; they have to go the extra mile and be gassed. This is how to encourage children: by rewarding those prepared to make a special effort.

Similarly, if anyone tells you they didn’t agree with Trump’s bombing, that shows they don’t care whether children are gassed or not.

If you oppose bombing Syria, you’re a friend of Assad, and no respectable citizen would want to be that. It’s true that when Tony Blair was Prime Minister he invited the Assads to Britain for a three-day visit including a meeting with the Queen, but he only did it once, probably when he bumped into him one night in the pub, and you can’t check the human rights credentials of everyone you meet, can you?

So Tony put his arm round him and said, “Here, Assad mate, fancy coming back to mine for a few tins and a game of cards? I’ll get the Queen up, she can make us beans on toast.”

Then a couple of days later Cherie looked him up on Google and what an embarrassment, it turns out he’s a mass murderer.

Blair justified his friendship at the time by saying Assad was a “moderniser”, and he’s certainly that. Huge chunks of his country are being demolished, probably for redevelopment with riverside apartments and a branch of John Lewis. By the time he’s done, Aleppo will look like the Bluewater Shopping Park near Dartford.

In any case, Blair invited him in the middle of the week, and Assad is quite engaging from Tuesdays to Thursdays; it’s the weekends when he plays up.

Similarly, Theresa May was quick to support the bombing, assuring us Syria had an undemocratic and barbaric regime, a disgrace to the Middle East, the sort of place we couldn’t possibly do business with. And she was so adamant we heard this message she broke off from her lunch with the King of Saudi Arabia to make it.

There’s no real indication of whether the bombing had any military impact or what it was designed to do, but that doesn’t matter. It was a symbolic gesture and Assad now knows if he uses any more chemical weapons, he’ll be dealt another one. Trump might poison his fish or even unfollow him on Twitter, because he’s motivated by his heart.

It may be true that other bombing sessions out there, such as the ones in Iraq or Libya, didn’t go entirely to plan, but this is a much simpler situation, and carried out by a President known for carefully nuanced subtlety, so it’s hard to see a problem.

This time the bombing is simple. So if you don’t support it, you’re helping Assad. This is different from a couple of years ago when we were asked to support the bombing of Isis, who were fighting against Assad. At that point anyone not supporting the bombing was told they were helping Isis, and not backing Assad enough. Sometimes we might change sides during a bombing campaign, but then we simply shout down to everyone and ask them to move around so the bombs land on the right people.

As proof of his careful planning, Trump now claims Nato is not obsolete after all, which some journalists who follow him closely suggest could indicate a possible change from his earlier claims that Nato was an utterly obsolete useless turd.

He has also switched from becoming closer to Russia than any other President to describing US relations with Russia as “at an all-time low”. This is reassuring, as it reveals his long-term international strategy is to change his mind about everything twice a week.

By July he’ll have built a wall round Norway and bombed his own lift.

On MSNBC, one reporter sparked some online controversy when he described the footage of Trump’s Syrian missile attack as “beautiful”. This shouldn’t surprise us because Trump’s a showman. For his next bombing he’ll insist the explosions spell “TO MY DARLING IVANKA, WHAT A KID” in purple sparkles as the buildings catch fire.

One of the New York Times’ headlines this week read: “On Syria, Trump’s heart came first.” And really that’s the lesson of the last week: that this was bound to happen when America elected a President whose flaw is he simply has too much warmth.

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