Glenn Greenwald writes that now that Donald Trump is president, Democratic party members have become more likely than Republicans to want to continue the many wars that the US is in, and the reactions to Trump’s call to withdraw troops from Syria illustrates this.
Both GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the country’s most reliable war supporters, and Hillary Clinton, who repeatedly criticized former President Barack Obama for insufficient hawkishness, condemned Trump’s decision in very similar terms, invoking standard war on terror jargon.
But while official Washington united in opposition, new polling data from Morning Consult/Politico shows that a large plurality of Americans support Trump’s Syria withdrawal announcement: 49 percent support to 33 percent opposition.
That’s not surprising given that Americans by a similarly large plurality agree with the proposition that “the U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for too long and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm’s way” far more than they agree with the pro-war view that “the U.S. needs to keep troops in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to help support our allies fight terrorism and maintain our foreign policy interests in the region.”
But what is remarkable about the new polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops there comes from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal. The numbers are stark: Of people who voted for Clinton in 2016, only 26 percent support withdrawing troops from Syria, while 59 percent oppose it. Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdraw by 76 percent to 14 percent.
A similar gap is seen among those who voted Democrat in the 2018 midterm elections (28 percent support withdrawal while 54 percent oppose it), as opposed to the widespread support for withdrawal among 2018 GOP voters: 74 percent to 18 percent.
With Trump rather than Obama now advocating troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, all of this has changed. The new polling data shows far more support for troop withdrawal among Republicans and independents, while Democrats are now split or even opposed. Among 2016 Trump voters, there is massive support for withdrawal: 81 percent to 11 percent; Clinton voters, however, oppose the removal of troops from Afghanistan by a margin of 37 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.
This demonstrates the problem of people seeming to decide on what policy they support based on who is advocating it rather than on its own merits. But alas, this is not new.
This is, of course, not the first time that Democratic voters have wildly shifted “beliefs” based on the party affiliation of the person occupying the Oval Office. The party’s base spent the Bush/Cheney years denouncing War on Terror policies such as assassinations, drones and Guantanamo as moral atrocities and war crimes, only to suddenly support those policies once they became hallmarks of the Obama presidency.
But what’s happening here is far more insidious. A core ethos of the anti-Trump #Resistance has become militarism, jingoism, and neoconservatism. Trump is frequently attacked by Democrats using long-standing Cold War scripts wielded for decades against them by the Far Right: Trump is insufficiently belligerent with U.S. enemies; he’s willing to allow the Bad Countries to take over by bringing home U.S. soldiers; his efforts to establish less hostile relations with adversary countries is indicative of weakness or even treason.
The neoconservatives have latched onto the Democratic party as their new vehicle for promoting their warmongering. Let’s hope the new progressives can successfully fight against this move.