Nolte: The Media’s Shameless Flip-Flop on Syria

Donald Trump
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Other than this being round 13,488 of Twitter’s Blue-Checkmarked Mafia’s reactionary (and manufactured) outrage against President Trump, another reason the establishment media have lost credibility with the public is best explained by the New York Times’ epic flip-flop when it comes to American troops in Syria.

This is not a gotcha. This is not two different columnists. Both of these excerpts, published this year, come from the oh-so prestigious New York Times editorial board.

January 19, 2018:

As a candidate, Donald Trump warned against foreign wars, not least in Syria. A year into his presidency, he is adding Syria to a list of open-ended conflicts that already includes Afghanistan and Iraq.

As of last month, there were about 2,000 American troops in Syria — up from 500 a year ago — a mix of engineering units and Special Operations units that fight and train with local militias in the battle against the Islamic State. Now that we know they will be there indefinitely, who can say the number won’t go higher and the mission won’t creep more?

Syria is a complex problem. But this plan seems poorly conceived, too dependent on military action and fueled by wishful thinking.

But the goals in Syria are so sweeping they may be unattainable, thus leaving American troops there in perpetuity.

December 19, 2018:

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump summarily overruled Mr. Bolton and the rest of his national security team. He ordered the withdrawal of all 2,000 American ground troops from Syria within 30 days.

That abrupt and dangerous decision, detached from any broader strategic context or any public rationale, sowed new uncertainty about America’s commitment to the Middle East, its willingness to be a global leader and Mr. Trump’s role as commander in chief.

An American withdrawal would also be a gift to Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, who has been working hard to supplant American influence in the region and who, on Thursday, enthusiastically welcomed the decision, saying, “Donald’s right.” Another beneficiary is Iran, which has also expanded its regional footprint. It would certainly make it harder for the Trump administration to implement its policy of ratcheting up what it calls “maximum pressure” on Iran.

Regardless of your position on President Trump’s decision this week to fulfill his oft-stated campaign pledge to get our troops out of Syria, look at our media right now, but most especially the unprincipled Times.

Less than a year ago, the Times editorial board condemned Trump for breaking his campaign pledge, for throwing 2,000 Americans into an “open-ended conflict” that has no real chance of success, which meant another war of “perpetuity.”

And now that Trump appears to agree with that assessment, this very same editorial board is siding with John Bolton(!!!) and accusing Trump of being a Russian stooge.

There is no principle here. No consistency. It is Orwell’s 1984, where one day, we are at war with Eurasia and the next with Eastasia, and which one doesn’t matter because it is not about anything other than extreme partisans driven by a demonic need to destroy a man, even if that means doing a complete 180 on an issue as important as deploying American lives.

Thankfully, the people see this, which is why the media are a national laughingstock.

We also see the chilling spectacle of the establishment media once again aligning with the neocons, and doing so based only on a shared hatred for Trump. Other than the fact that this unholy union previously resulted in America’s two greatest foreign policy blunders (Iraq and Libya), how’d that work out?

I don’t know about you, but I feel like France watching Germany reunify.

And, of course, this unholy union is a massive flip-flop on the part of the entire media, not just the Times.

Think about this: the same media that have demanded a Middle East withdrawal since 2004, that cheered Obama’s disastrous decision to get out of Iraq, that turned the word “neocon” into a pejorative, is now spooning with Bill Kristol and nibbling his earlobe.

So welcome to another round of panic and “wheels are coming off the White House” hot takes and outrage and shrill declarations and anything but a pause to take a breath, a moment of reflection, an attempt at sobriety.

I don’t know enough about Syria to hold an opinion about it. But here is what I do know…

Trump is keeping a campaign promise to pull out of Syria. Jim Mattis did not receive a single vote from We the People in support of his foreign policy vision. And  the same media and neocon “experts” who blundered Iraq and Libya are up to their old tricks — apocalyptic visions of ISIS Red Dawning into Montana if we don’t listen to their “expertise.”

Trump might be wrong about Syria, but you will have to excuse me for not taking these people seriously:

Those looking for an informed and sober opinion should look here.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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