It will be hard for many of them to face, but they will have to, eventually. The bombing of Syria last night was not the stunning act of betrayal many of Trump’s supporters seem to think it was.
There have been indications, since Trump began campaigning, that he was not on the level. And – not to say ‘I told you so’ too loudly – I had been asserting for the past year-and-a-half that Trump was emphatically not the hard-but-fair Peisistratos that many on the nouvelle nouvelle-droite dreamed he was, but instead a loud-mouthed, overpromising Kleon. His entire prior career was based on shell games, marketing gimmicks and clever manipulation of the media. But even this faux-humanitarian hawkish turn of his was not wholly unexpected. He appointed known neoconservatives to posts in the Justice Department and the Department of State. He defended his running-mate’s vote for the Iraq War. He rattled the sabre repeatedly against Iran, and later against China. And more grievously, he ramped up Obama’s damnable war of aggression on the Zaïdi Shia of Yemen, some of the poorest people living in the fifth-poorest country on the planet, at the behest of the Saudi royal family.
No – Trump’s military strike on Syria is not the latest nor the most grievous of his offences against peace, nor is it even the most flagrant betrayal of his base (a base for which I do actually have a great deal of sympathy). But for all that, the strike against Syria is nonetheless an act of brazen political cowardice, heinous disregard for life – particularly but by no means exclusively the lives of the Christians in the country – and reckless endangerment of our national security, and it is to be condemned with all possible force. And I am heartened to see that many of the dissident nouvelle nouvelle-droite were among those who stood in opposition to his decision.
But the dangers of, shall we say, right-wing postmodernism, and of political attempts to wield identity politics against its authors, should now be fairly clear. Going forward there needs to be an understanding that changing the culture, locally, from the ground up and generation by generation, is something that needs to take precedence over such fragile, short-term political ‘victories’.