He has supported Donald Trump since the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign, but former presidential adviser and presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan believes the president acted “rashly” when he decided to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield in response to a suspected chemical gas attack by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
“I think he reacted emotionally, ineffectively and also unconstitutionally,” Buchanan told talk-host Michael Savage Tuesday.
He argued that Syria has not attacked or threatened the United States, yet, if Trump’s son Eric is right, the president’s daughter, Ivanka, prompted the president to attack after being heartbroken by the images of Syrian children who had been killed by a chemical gas attack.
Ivanka Trump’s reaction to the horror is understandable, Buchanan said.
“But you don’t change your entire foreign policy, or your Middle East policy, based on emotion,” he said.
Noting Trump had promised to extricate America from wars and not get involved in Syria, Buchanan said Trump is now “in a terrible box.”
“Now, the Syrians are not going to back down, the Russians are not going to back down, and as they continue the battle against the rebels – the U.S.-backed rebels as well as ISIS and al-Qaida – people are going to be demanding that Trump follow up,” he said.
Buchanan was referring specifically to U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other globalists and neoconservatives in Congress.
“Now, he’s going to have to do something or do nothing,” Buchanan said. “And if he does something, we could be in the middle of a Syrian civil war that consumed a presidency that began, for a lot of people, with a great deal of hope.”
In a column published Monday, Buchanan wrote that by “firing off five dozen Tomahawk missiles at a military airfield, our ‘America First’ president may have plunged us into another Middle East war that his countrymen do not want to fight.”
Buchanan was a senior adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. He sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996, and was the Reform Party nominee in the 2000 presidential election.
Responding to the news that Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed the U.S. is preparing to bomb Damascus, Buchanan said the Trump administration is sending mixed messages through various officials, but he doesn’t think Trump will bomb Damascus.
“What I fear is that if something happens in response, where there’s sort of a defiance by the Syrians, Russians or Iranians or Hezbollah or anyone inside Syria, he could respond and escalate, and then we’re in the war,” he said.
Buchanan said the American people will not sustain a long war to determine who will rule Syria when there are about 10 parties “in there, fighting for various objectives they believe in far more deeply than any American believes that we ought to decide who runs Syria.”
“I don’t know what it is with the neocons, but there is just something with regard to Russia, that they cannot abide,” he said.
Buchanan said Putin is “no saint,” but “every effort we make to reach out to him and to the Russians to avoid the kind of conflict that some good presidents avoided during 50 years of Cold War, every time we do it, they try to frustrate it and bring about its collapse.”
Savage said he sees “eerie similarities to how World War I started, when superpowers were almost backed into confronting one another.”
The talk host asked Buchanan what someone like Henry Kissinger would do in this situation.
“Henry Kissinger is a chess player,” said Buchanan, noting he worked with the former secretary of state, describing him as an “architect of detente” with the Soviet Union.
Kissinger, Buchanan said, “would have looked on this strike on Syria and said, ‘Let’s wait and let’s investigate, and let’s make sure we’ve got the facts, and let’s get everyone on board on the Security Council, and let’s have inspectors go into those places where the gas is; and it will force Assad make his case, because we will have the goods on him.’”
Secondly, Buchanan said, Kissinger “would never launch like that without thinking through what is the second, third and fourth step beyond this.”
“Henry plays chess,” he emphasized.
“But the people that did this, I think, just acted emotionally, precipitously and rashly,” Buchanan said.
Noting he grew up in Washington, D.C., Buchanan recalled seeing Krushchev and Eisenhower in 1959 in a convertible outside the White House, just three years after the Soviet Union brutally crushed the Hungarian Revolution, with 50,000 dead and thousands taken off to camps.
“Ike said we’ve gotta deal with this SOB, because the two of us have the power to blow up the world,” Buchanan said.
“I don’t know what it is that sits behind the thinking of people like McCain and the others: ‘We can’t deal with Putin, he’s a killer. He’s this. He’s that,” said Buchanan.
“My goodness, I’ve shaken hands with communists in China who have the blood of millions on their hands.”
Buchanan described Savage as a realist regarding foreign policy and would describe himself that way. The former presidential adviser said that while he’s been called a neo-isolationist, he recognizes “there are people who challenge the U.S. that must be dealt with.”
“I don’t know why it is that Donald Trump did not reach out to folks like this, and I don’t know why Generals (James) Mattis and (H.R.) McMaster and the others, who have experience and who know the disasters that were brought on us by these recent wars, why they would take a step that could drag us into another war so swiftly and immediately based on, admittedly, a horrible atrocity, but one that was not perpetrated against us, and the facts of which we did not know.”
Savage said the purpose of the interview was to reach President Trump.
“We’re hoping that the interview reaches the president before it’s too late,” the talk host said.
Savage said he and Buchanan seem to be in a minority regarding their thinking on Trump’s action in Syria.
“But I will say this, Michael, I think there are more second thoughts today than there were a couple of days ago,” Buchanan said, “and by the end of this week, I think a lot of people will be saying this was not thought through, that it was a mistake, and we don’t know where we are going exactly.”