A President out of step with his generals is once more the order of the day in Washington. Perhaps The Donald is literally stamping out fires at the moment – while the Pentagon is gagging for shots to be fired in earnest at all levels. Whatever happens, it is going to happen at any moment.
I am in receipt of information from both Washington and New York suggesting that a surprise attack by the US on Syrian targets “is imminent, and could occur any time from now”.
However, it appears there is a vast gap in relation to the nature of the attack between President Trump on the one hand, and hawkish elements in the National Security Council on the other. Trump favours a clinical airstrike to take out Assad and his entourage – with no physical US ground forces involved at all – whereas some military advisers want the commitment of infantry boots on sand.
In turn, the President favours covert support for the anti-Assad rebels, but a commitment to withdraw from Syria once he is satisfied that Assad is dead, and his régime is in disarray. This is an echo of his promise to an Ohio rally on March 30th, when he told supporters that the US would be out of Syria “very soon”.
Trump’s argument is that continued chaos in Syria (without direct confrontation with Russia) is in the best interests of the US.
Both the President and the Hawks, however, are agreed in private that nothing immediate will come from UN sessions. And so, in the best Bush/Blair tradition, they will proceed with the action without UN approval if necessary.
But it is the kind of military response that ultimately takes place which will give a clear signal as to who is actually controlling events in the White House.
That in turn may reflect what the Trump family and its immediate entourage make of certain actions possibly designed to intimidate them.
Since he became President, Trump has been unlucky with fires. So unlucky, in fact, that one is left wondering whether his construction standards are roughly those of the Towering Inferno, or perhaps somebody somewhere is trying to tell The Donald something.
In March and April last year, his hotels in New York and Las Vegas suffered fires. The second of these was allegedly the work of a 28 year old man, Roger Fraley, who ‘placed paper products and towels inside two toasters in an apparent attempt to start a fire in the women’s bathroom on the pool deck’.
However, two additional smoking toasters with paper and towels were located on a lower floor…but nobody seems to have considered the possibility of an accomplice at the time. This is a little odd, as Hotel security was also informed of a smoke alarm coming from rooms 1705 and 1706, two floors above from where the pool deck and pantry are located.
Mr Fraley seems to have been very fleet of foot, and also a chap with an odd sense of fun: he told police, “I guess I just wanted to see what dumb f**kery I could get up to”.
Bail was set at $50,000 for Fraley on May 2nd 2017, with an initial hearing set for May 16th. Since then, he has disappeared completely off the radar, along with all his social media accounts. No record I can find exists of his eventual sentence, if any.
On January 8th this year, an electrical fire caused smoke to billow from the roof of Donald Trump’s skyscraper and former campaign HQ on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, injuring three people. It was argued at the time that Trump Tower’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system ignited earlier around 7am “due to exceptionally cold weather”, but this was never confirmed by either the Trumps or the New York fire department.
Then last weekend, an art dealer died and firefighters were injured after flames ripped through the same Trump building. The fire began on the 50th floor on Saturday evening at the prestige block in Manahattan, where the President has an apartment. Art dealer Todd Brassner, 67, who was in the building, was rushed to hospital and died a short time later, the NYPD said.
Brassner was an eccentric and reclusive former friend of Andy Warhol, and apparently “hated living in the Trump Tower”. The added dimension to this case is that Trump lobbied against the need for sprinkler systems in every apartment…so naturally, the LibLeft media is seriously on his case at the moment – especially as he had previously referred to the victim as “that crazy Jew”.
Four fire incidents, none of them false alarms, in Trump properties in the space of a year. Coincidence? As always these days, a sound judgement about such things is almost impossible.
We shall see.