On April 7, President Trump committed his first “act of war,” attacking Syria with missiles in response to what he said was a poison gas attack by the Syrian government that killed dozens. But the White House’s subsequent intelligence report offering its proof of Syria’s role was “false” and “fraudulent,” suggesting a “coverup” by a president acting without any intelligence and intentionally lying to the public.
These are the characterizations of two longtime experts in war studies and missile systems, which—along with coordinated comments by Vice President Mike Pence in South Korea and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Russia that America’s “strategic patience” is ending—suggest Trump may be seeking a war of choice, even if it involves fabricated intelligence.
President George W. Bush’s White House fabricated intelligence concerning Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction before his April 2003 invasion of Iraq. What seems to be unfolding at the top ranks of the Trump administration is similar to Bush’s pronouncements and evidence following the 9/11 terrorist attack.
This latest outburst of militarism began April 4, when it appears that poison gas, possibly the nerve agent sarin, killed dozens of Syrian civilians in the town of Khan Shaykhun. These deaths, among them women and children, are uncontested and documented on videos. Which poison gas was used, how it was delivered and who was behind the incident remain unanswered questions, said Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, though United Nations scientists and Turkish doctors who did autopsies have pointed to sarin.