Donald Trump won the presidency largely because the American public was tired of the last 16 years of continuous wars and disastrous foreign interventions. When he said "I think getting along with Russia is a good thing," Americans compared that with Hillary's promise of more confrontation and nuclear brinksmanship and pulled the lever for Trump. When Trump asked what's so bad about Assad and Putin fighting ISIS in Syria and promised to end the idiotic policy of arming "rebels" because "we don't know who they are," America felt the five year "regime change" policy that has left Syria in ruins was finally coming to an end and they voted Trump.
The neocons gnashed their teeth at the thought that Trump would give up on "remaking" the Middle East, one of their top priorities since at least the 1996 study by the Project for a New American Century called for exactly the same kind of regime change policy the US eventually pursued.
Hillary promised "no-fly zones" for Syria, which would have likely meant armed confrontation with Russia. Trump promised the opposite and won.
Then the predictable happened. Within minutes of the announcement that Trump beat Hillary the bloodcurdling neocon Twitter feeds came to a screeching halt, did a u-turn, and began whispering sweet nothings into Trump's ear. "Ah Mr. Trump, you will need some expert advice," they breathily cooed. "You will need to listen to us very serious people. Don't be a bumpkin, listen to the experts." And so on.
It now looks like the neocons may have successfully bamboozled Trump on Syria. Just as the Syrian army with Russian assistance was clearing the last of the al-Qaeda rebels out of eastern Aleppo and the residents began to return to the homes they had abandoned, Trump took to the stage to comment that it was "so sad" what was happening in Syria. He then pulled a Hillary, telling the crowd: “We’ll build and help build safe zones in Syria, so people will have a chance.”
This turnabout has neocon fingerprints all over it. The mainstream media -- also known as "fake news" factories -- have been mis-reporting on the defeat of forces in east Aleppo that even the US government admits are al-Qaeda's Nusra Front. In their false narrative the defeat of al-Qaeda is a terrible thing and the tragic deaths of those in east Aleppo are not because they were held hostage for four years by al-Qaeda, but rather the fault of the government that freed them from captivity.
The mainstream media has no reporters on the ground in east Aleppo. They rely on various US-government funded NGOs like the "White Helmets," who dutifully repeat the propaganda of their paymasters. Independent journalists on the ground who are actually interviewing people as they return to their homes in east Aleppo are seeing and reporting the opposite of what we see in the US mainstream media. Of course in the twisted world of modern media, credible sources interviewing people on the ground and on-camera must be ignored. It doesn't fit the narrative.
When Donald Trump says the US will build "safe zones" in Syria, what does he mean? Does he know? Does he mean safe zones to protect the people from ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups? Those "safe zones" are already being built by the Syrian army with allied assistance. Just ask the people returning to their homes in Aleppo. The best way to help would be for the United States to stay out of the way. After all, the US is currently operating illegally inside Syria according to both US and international law.
Or does he mean "safe zones" to protect the various terrorist groups from being further routed by Syrian government forces? That is the neocon plan, the Hillary plan, the "humanitarian interventionist with a bullet" plan. Is that now Trump's plan too?
The neocons are busy re-packaging their old "regime change" plans for Syria in new wrapping paper. Over at "War on the Rocks" blog one of the "experts" outlines a "Sensible Path for Trump's Syria Policy," which upon even cursory examination is essentially identical to the policy pursued to utter failure over the past five years. At its center is regime change for Syria, just as Obama called for in 2011.
Here's a real "sensible path for Trump's Syria policy": American troops home, no more weapons, no more regime change. Actually Trump's own words would serve pretty well as a sensible path for Syria policy:
We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments.But the neocons will not let go that easily, as we see today in Trump's adoption of neocon talking points. Mr. President-elect: if you lie down with dogs you will wake up with fleas...or worse.
The above originally appeared at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.