Special to OpEdNews
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH
As is well known, Donald Trump ran on what Steve Bannon calls "economic nationalism." (That it is really in major part a cover term for the racism/Islamophobia/xenophobia that was central to the Trump campaign from the beginning and so strongly reflected on Bannon's Breitbart, is another story.) Part of that position is that the US shouldn't intervene abroad, shouldn't get involved in "nation building," shouldn't be the "world's policeman," and certainly should try to get along better with Russia, for whatever reasons.
As is well-known, just a few weeks ago, Trump and Tillerson were essentially laying out a "hands-off" policy towards Syria. And then comes the bombing, both literally and figuratively out-of-the-blue, except that, apparently, the Russians were given advance notice. That they might pass this information along to their long-time ally, the Syrian government under one or another Assad, was apparently not taken into account. But as is well-known, Syrian jets were flying from that air-base the next day.
Fortunately, Trump has not put "boots on the ground" in Syria (and Iraq), yet (or at least any more that Pres. Obama had sent there). But he has changed US policy towards the Assad Regime and by so-doing, towards Assad's principal ally, Russia, as well. (And if you think that Russia is going to suddenly abandon Assad's Syria, you've got another think coming. First and foremost, Syria provides Russia [and before that the Soviet Union] with a naval base window on the Mediterranean at Tartus , and has done so since 1971. Russia will not give that up easily.)
As is well-known Trump ran on making nice towards Russia, for whatever reasons. As is well-known, speculation about them has run from genuinely wanting to reduce world tensions, to investment interests going in one way or another or in both directions, to possible Russian blackmail. But, as I and many other observers have discussed on numerous occasions, the U.S. does need a Permanent Enemy in order, among other things, to justify the truly gigantic Military-Industrial Complex.
Apparently Trump thought (if he gave it thought or was capable of doing so) that China or Iran might become the substitute enemy-for-the-purpose of maintaining a Permanent War footing (if not Prepayment War, which didn't go so well in Afghanistan or Iraq) But no (see "The Russia House"). So, back to Russia. This might cause personal financial difficulties for Trump and family, and no sanctions-lifting for Tillerson (so that Exxon-Mobil could pursue Arctic drilling with Russian oil interests). But it is seeming to becoming clear from statements first made by UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Sec. Def. James Mattis, and now by the White House itself that the US is going right back there.