President Donald Trump’s missile strike on Syria marks a complete turnabout from his long-held anti-interventionist policies. Now, some of his biggest supporters are furious about it.
The United States launched 59 cruise missiles late on Thursday, targeting the Syrian government’s Shayrat air base, two days after forces fighting on the side of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad carried out a catastrophic chemical attack that killed at least 80 people, including children.
Now, the president’s far-right supporters are angry. Outspoken pro-Trump media personalities, such as Ann Coulter, and notable figures in the alt-right movement, including Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich, almost immediately vocalized their objection to the air strikes.
I guess Trump wasn't "Putin's puppet" after all, he was just another deep state/Neo-Con puppet.— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) April 7, 2017
I'm officially OFF the Trump train.
The #AltRight is against a war in Syria. Period. We want good relations with Bashar al-Assad, and we urge Trump to halt the rush to war.— Richard ❄️ Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) April 6, 2017
The outcry from these pundits, however, is just a reflection of the broader grassroots kick back. Some Trump supporters are threatening to abandon the president, while others are suggesting that he lied and betrayed them on the campaign trail.
My dad, who voted for Trump, heard about the missile strike on Syria and said, "That is not what Trump campaigned on." Nobody is okay w this— Tara (@feldspathic) April 7, 2017
Zero trump supporters want a strike on Syria. Trump ran on non-intervention and we want non-intervention.— SuperSecretSigma (@Eidotheia) April 7, 2017
Even the comment section of Breitbart News, a website that emerged as extremely pro-Trump during the election, depicts an enraged supporter base.
Breitbarters seem unhappy w/the Syrian strikes. "just like Hillary wanted. Great! This week has been the crappiest I have felt in 2 years." pic.twitter.com/JWS6GXPUqu— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) April 7, 2017
Back in 2013, Trump was a vocal opponent of military intervention and his tweets from that time are recirculating. In one, he tells former President Barack Obama to “stay out of Syria” while in another he demands that the president consult Congress before acting:
The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2013
We should stop talking, stay out of Syria and other countries that hate us, rebuild our own country and make it strong and great again-USA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2013
Somewhat ironically, the president had also mused that Obama was considering military action against the Islamic State to boost low polling numbers. Now that Trump’s approval ratings are struggling, some are wondering the same of Thursday’s mission.
Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2012
While the strike against Assad may alienate the far right demographic, it seems to appeal to party Republicans, some of who were demanding action on Syria.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called on the president “to ground Assad’s air force” in a press release. Both had openly criticized Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comment that the Assad regime was a matter for “the Syrian people.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) also voiced his support for a “stronger Syria policy, one that holds the Assad government, Russia, and Iran accountable for their brutality.”
That the U.S. missile strike on the Syrian government’s airbase is internationally significant goes without question, but it could prove to fracture the administration’s support domestically in an unprecedented way.