Syria

Trump's Risky Syria Gambit

The president's tendency to pursue easy "fixes" is going to be a problem.

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Trump
Mike Theiler/UPI/Newscom

In the worldview Donald Trump brought to the White House, all problems are easy. Fix the economy by getting tough with China. End illegal immigration by building a wall. "Totally obliterate" the Islamic State.

Even after the humiliating failure of an effort in the House to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump declared: "I know that we're all going to make a deal on health care. That's such an easy one."

Trump apparently thinks the same thing about one of the knottiest questions he has encountered—Syria. After a chemical weapons attack blamed on President Bashar Assad, Trump didn't spend much time agonizing before using cruise missiles against a Syrian air base. It's a response that creates new dangers without solving old problems.

He obviously never read up on Dwight Eisenhower, who said: "No easy problems ever come to the president of the United States. If they are easy to solve, someone else has solved them."

Syria is one of those no one has solved, mainly because it is virtually impossible. The country has been a charnel house since 2011, when an armed uprising elicited savage responses from Assad—bombing hospitals, torturing opponents and starving civilians.

In 2012, Barack Obama threatened U.S. retaliation if Assad used chemical weapons. When he used them anyway, Obama changed his mind, recognizing that major military measures had scant prospect of success but an excellent chance of catastrophe.

The options in Syria did not become more viable merely because Trump finally took note of what's happening. In fact, they have gotten worse. Russia now has ground and air forces in Syria, fighting on the side of the regime.

Hawks accused Obama of facilitating Assad's brutality by standing aside. But it was not until Trump arrived that this nerve gas attack occurred. Maybe Assad felt emboldened after the administration indicated his regime is "a political reality that we have to accept," as press secretary Sean Spicer said March 31. In that case, Trump is not compensating for Obama's mistakes so much as his own.

It's hard to have any confidence that this decision was made in a careful way, with a clear sense of purpose and a full understanding of the risks. The suddenness of Trump's shift indicates he gave no more thought to his new position than he did to his previous, opposite one.

The important questions are: What will the strike accomplish, and where will it lead? One taste of the lash isn't likely to shake Assad's grip on power or deter him from killing his own people on a large scale—possibly even with chemical weapons.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster admitted Friday that the dictator "will maintain the certain capacity to commit mass murder with chemical weapons, we think, beyond this particular airfield." The administration is trying to thread a very small needle. "This was not a small strike," McMaster insisted, while noting that it was also "not of a scope or a scale that it (went) after all such related facilities."

The exquisite calibration suggests Trump and his advisers want to reassure both the American people ("I'm tough!") and the Russians ("Really, it's nothing"). It indicates he has no intention of bringing down Assad. Maybe someone told him that without Assad, the chaos and bloodshed in Syria would not abate but expand and intensify.

Apparently, Trump is averse to full-scale intervention, which would carry the risk of direct combat with Russians in the air or on the ground. But as the signs on ski slopes say, hazards exist that are not marked. Once the U.S. inserts itself into the fight against Assad, the chance of a misstep increases. With a little bad luck, we could find ourselves at war not only with the Syrian government but with a nuclear superpower.

Why take the risk? Even if conflict with Russia could be avoided, making any real difference in the war would require a large number of U.S. ground troops for a long time. And the outcome would probably be a costly failure, kind of like Iraq and Afghanistan.

As every president learns, matters of war and peace look much simpler before you get to the White House. Obama came to understand that if we went to war in Syria, our adversaries might lose, but we would not win. Trump will learn that, too, but he may have to learn the hard way.

© Copyright 2017 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. There are so many things to say on this topic, but I will leave that to the commentariat. What I will say is this:

    Why is a chemical attack worse than a bombing? Is not a dead child still a dead child? Why is it different if a person was intentionally killed by a fist, a knife, a gun, a bomb, some gas, or a nuclear warhead? A unjustifiable killing is a murder no matter the method.

    The users of this weapons understand the risk of death and harm to bystanders when they use them. In other words, the users of these weapons are intentionally killing people beyond the known person they want killed or thing they want destroyed.

    This is fundamental. Killing without just cause is murder. Murder is wrong.

    1. Before anyone mistakes this as a plea to Team America World Police, it is not. The response to murder does not need to be more murder (as any retaliation carries the risk of so called collateral damage). The point is why are we getting all worked up over chemical weapons now when there has been the ongoing murder of the same for 6 years by this man and his forces?

      Please do a report or find a report that shows what has so significantly changed that we should now care about that which we previously did not.

      I am skeptical that such a justification can be made or that evidence to support such can be found.

      1. Chemical weapons have been considered especially awful since the end of WWI – this is not a new thing. My guess why is that they are more indiscriminate than conventional weapons.

        1. The difference is actually the opposite of how indiscriminate these weapons are.

          Since WWI, you could use a bomb to destroy a runway. Chemical weapons, OTOH, not only didn’t stop at destroying the runway, but specifically targeted the people and were frequently employed to attack people who were hiding or hunkered down, leaving the infrastructure in tact.

          It, a bit, represents an anachronistic migration from ‘conducting war’ to ‘world policing’. On the one hand, you’re right, if the bodies are lined up to be shot into mass graves; it doesn’t matter that the bullets are hollow-point rather than FMJ or that whether you gunned them down or collected them into a warehouse and firebombed them. The number of dead end up the same either way.

          I don’t agree with the capriciousness of a/the red line. That said, these rules got put in place because world powers, at the time, agreed not to do these things and that itself is not a bad thing. No bread in Venezuela is one thing, firebombing your own people is another, even if the same number of people starve or get burned alive.

        2. “Chemical weapons have been considered especially awful since the end of WWI ”

          And yet there’s probably not a police force in the country which doesn’t stockpile chemical agents which were proscribed by the Geneva Conventions. They are used these days on American blacks who are protesting mistreatment.

          1. And yet there’s probably not a police force in the country which doesn’t stockpile chemical agents which were proscribed by the Geneva Conventions.

            Again, a military using the weapons in a genocidal scorched earth policy are implicitly or explicitly included and is intended to bring down the full weight of the international body(ies). A police force employing them to diminish or minimize public property damage or to (not) save the lives of hostages, while deplorable, should not automatically be considered an act of war requiring intervention by the international community. Hollow point bullets are just as illegal or banned in international armed conflict and are still readily available to citizens and police. Honoring the Geneva Convention would violate the RTKBA, personal/regional/national sovereignty or both.

            Obviously, one gas shell in a locked room can probably kill some people, but is there any evidence of a department holding or ‘stockpiling’ enough lachrymatory agent to be anything other than a nuisance to a larger city/metropolis?

            1. I agree except that I don’t know what an RTKBA is. Americans have grown used to idea of them being used against Americans, as long as they are used to disperse illegal gatherings and don’t kill too many.

      2. I oppose interference in Syria, but the justification RE: Chemical Weapons is WW1 based, and due to experience. It’s not just that it kills–this is what war is–but how it kills, and the fact that Chems tend to poison the very ground that is being fought over, making conquest meaningless.

        There are parts of France that are still no-go zones from WW1 Chemical Warfare contamination. It’s estimated that cleaning the land will take ~700 more years.

        After witnessing this, all of the major powers in the world agreed to cease using these weapons, and this is imposed upon the lesser nations.

        1. This. It was agreed to because of the absolute horror that these types of weapons represent. They’re in a category of weapon that should never, ever be used.

          I’m not trying to justify a missile strike or anything, and I was glad when Obama kicked the Syria decision back to Congress and they denied it last time, but if Assad actually did use chemical weapons then he has moved beyond tyrant and into the realm of mad man.

          What does one do when all sides of a conflict are wrong? Stay the hell away, is my opinion.

        2. After witnessing this, all of the major powers in the world agreed to cease using these weapons, and this is imposed upon the lesser nations.

          Thereafter the United States continued to use chemical weapons for the next 75 years as needed, agreed to be bound by the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction in 1993 and almost 25 years later still has not destroyed the entire stockpile.

    2. It’s all about visibility. When children die in a barrel bomb blast, there’s not much left that the press can photograph and include in news stories; either everyone is buried under rubble or it’s too gruesome. A chemical attack provides stark images of immediate suffering that can be broadcast on the nightly news and CNN.com. It’s harder for the public to ignore, and now every idiot out there is clamoring for the government to “do something”.

      1. Visibility indeed. People blown apart by barrel bombs are eminently photographable. At least the blood stains are. The question that needs to be answered is how and why was so much footage of this attack available, and so quickly?

        This attack was produced and timed to test the propensity for US involvement. Assad and/or Putin wanted to know what sort of limits they were operating under.

      2. “It’s all about visibility.”

        It’s also a proven pretext for escalation. It was used some 15 years ago to get public support for the invasion of Iraq. After this latest incident CNN has started to support Trump.

    3. Why is torture worse than collateral killing?

      Perception. You are right a child burnt with the heat of a regular bombing is still pretty badly suffering or dead.

      1. Why is torture worse than collateral killing?

        Perception.

        When did libertarians suddenly stop caring about mens rea?

  2. Funny, I must be thinking of a completely different Obama threatened to bomb Syria. I don’t remember him changing his mind because he realized it would be counterproductive. I remember him being forced to change his mind because Congress and the American public strongly objected to his threat to bomb Syria. It was Congress and the American people who saw that bombing Assad would be counterproductive. I recall that Obama backed down by claiming that his generals had told him that there was “no need” to bomb Assad immediately.

    OTOH, it makes even more puzzling the universal praise Trump has received for “acting presidential.” And the fact that Democrats are supporting him on this after going to the mat on a Supreme Court nominee for no reason other than partisan pique is a true head-scratcher.

    1. “I remember him being forced to change his mind because Congress and the American public strongly objected to his threat to bomb Syria.”

      Obama didn’t need Congress’ approval to strike Syria. He used Congress as a convenient excuse.

    2. “I remember him being forced to change his mind because Congress and the American public strongly objected to his threat to bomb Syria.”

      Obama didn’t need Congress’ authorization to strike Syria.

      He used Congress as a convenient excuse.

    3. I think your memory is a tad bit faulty. Obama issued his red line ultimatum, then blinked when they called his bluff.

      “Congress and the American people” were only a convenient excuse. Maybe if he had deferred on Libya – where there was clear opposition to our involvement – would that sort of revisionist history fly.

    4. Congress was a way for him to save face; one might say a convenient excuse.

      I think there are a few different alleged motives for Obama’s decision. One is that Iran threatened to step away from the nuclear talks if the US attacked Syria.

    5. And the fact that Democrats are supporting him on this after going to the mat on a Supreme Court nominee for no reason other than partisan pique is a true head-scratcher.

      Could be that maybe they’re trying to play 3-D chess. Maybe they think that Trump going to war in Syria over the objections of the American public, and in particular over the objections of many of his supporters, will end up backfiring on him and resulting in further reducing his popularity. IDK if they’re smart enough to think of something like that, but it makes sense from the standpoint that everything they do is motivated by partisanship.

      But then again, they’ve been beating the war drums over Syria ever since the pictures of some kid in Aleppo were published. The Dems have had a hard on for “humanitarian war” ever since at least Kosovo, and probably further back than that.

  3. “When he used them anyway, Obama changed his mind, recognizing that major military measures had scant prospect of success but an excellent chance of catastrophe.”

    That’s laughably charitable.

    ” Maybe Assad felt emboldened after the administration indicated his regime is “a political reality that we have to accept,” as press secretary Sean Spicer said March 31.”

    At that time, we were still assuming, as promised by Russia AND the Obama administration, that all chemical weapons had been purged from Syria. Remember that, Steve?

    1. That’s laughably charitable.

      That Chapman for you. Especially when he writes anything about Obama.

  4. It’s all part of the same problem left and right. Everyone thinks you can use force of government to fix every problem. All that does in reality is make every problem worse. That is why I’m a libertarian. There is no doubt in my mind that our involvement in the middle east is hurting overall, not helping. Even where we’ve had military success against ISIS, the new gang of thugs is no better than the old gang of thugs. We’re simply prolonging the shit show that eventually has to be worked out by the local powers. Which means more innocent deaths. GTFO. STFO.

    1. We’re simply prolonging the shit show that eventually has to be worked out by the local powers.

      This applies to the Middle East as a whole. Best we can do is sit with various leaders and say “you folks have a problem that the outside world cannot fix.” Whether or they see radical Islam as a problem is another matter, but along with the first part, the only reasonable follow up is “we’re not going to send people here, but if/when your problem wanders into our part of the world and kills innocents, there will be disproportionate response.” Of course, saying that only works if there is follow through.

      1. That sounds reasonable in the abstract, but it’s incentive for these governments to be even more repressive. “Get these bad elements under control, or we’ll hold you responsible.”

        1. That still shouldn’t be our problem though. At least in my opinion.

          1. It can’t be our problem because we can’t fix it. We could remove that boss but eventually some other repressive thug will take their place, (after another power struggle and mass loss of life) . Quite frankly when you have that many head loopers in your general population, maybe an asshole at helm is the only shot at some sort of stability no matter how uncivilized we view it.

            1. If you’re leaning that direction, Assad is one of the few Westernized secular leaders left in the Middle East that we haven’t yet gotten around to knocking off. It may not have been pretty, but keeping the Shah in power in Iran along with Khadafy in Libya and Saddam in Iraq might have been the more Machiavellian move if you wanted to keep the religious whackos busy over there rather than here.

          2. It’s not an impetus for the US armed forces to get involved, but USG policy shouldn’t be promoting it, either.

            Actually, I take back my reasonable description. Unless I’m misunderstanding who he sees as the target of the disproportionate response, he’s calling for a new foreign policy in which we hold governments responsible for criminals hailing from their territory. I wonder how widely this doctrine would be applied, and if we actually expect it to apply to, say, Saudi Arabia. And, again, in this instance, it’s basically saying Assad will be punished for not bombing and gassing indiscriminately enough over the past 5 years.

      2. Exactly. We also need to understand that we’re not gonna like the way it gets solved but as you say as long as they keep it over there.

      3. Whether or they see radical Islam as a problem is another matter, but along with the first part, the only reasonable follow up is “we’re not going to send people here, but if/when your problem wanders into our part of the world and kills innocents, there will be disproportionate response.”

        There is, arguably, an even less interventionist or more libertarian solution. However, the anti-Trump, reactionary ‘right to immigrate’ crowd would probably never even consider it.

        If you gave up the rights outlined in the American Constitution as well as human rights over there, we are under no obligation to restore and/or provide them to you. We already grant them selectively to informants and translators. Not that every native has demonstrably earned their rights, but simple economics indicates that we can’t take everyone who’s willing to chuck their rights out the window at a moment’s notice, pick up stakes, and head to the next highest ground. Especially if they’ve already done it once (or more). Moreover, just blindly accepting them because they can run away successfully sends the distinct message to these dictators/regimes that not only will forcing these people out be tolerated, but it will be accepted and even accommodated.

        1. Once we leave Iran will jump in to protect the shiite and will either appropriate that land or supporr a new shiitte puppet regime. The only reason Iran hasn’t stepped up yet is because they’re happy to watch US troops continue to get blown up by IEDs. That will leave the Sunni to figure out a solution for themselves which they should be able to do (albeit brutally) when we’re gone. I’m afraid the Kurds are fucked though. If the is any group over there that I don’t mind helping, it’s them. Not sure what we can do though.

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  6. I have an easy answer, declare that Syria is not US government business and forget the place.

    If one of those pesky reporters brings up the subject then say “Syria who?”

    1. If one of those pesky reporters brings up the subject then say “Syria who?”

      +1 “What’s Aleppo?”

  7. Well, at least Trump wasn’t lying or just talking out his ass when he suggested he could order the military to torture suspects and kill their families with the assertion that “the military will do what I tell them”. For all the harrumphing about whether or not Trump has the constitutional authority to bomb whoever he likes whenever he likes wherever he likes – just like Obama – the military hasn’t batted an eye at launching attacks, have they? If the President’s authority to unilaterally wage war is questionable, it obviously ain’t the military questioning it. Which ought to make you just a wee bit concerned about whether or not the military has its own red line they won’t cross. If Trump orders some attacks and Congress says “No”, who’s the military going to obey? The guy who knows what needs to be done and is willing to do it or the spineless, gutless worms in Congress who’ve been only too happy to delegate responsibility for fear some of it might stick to them? And I wouldn’t count on the Constitution carrying a lot of weight as to what should be done and how it should be done, that old rag’s a dead letter.

    1. ” If Trump orders some attacks and Congress says “No”, who’s the military going to obey?”

      Oh please. That’s a might big if right there. Asking the military to become the arbiter of such matters seems rather shortsighted to say the least.

      How about Congress start by saying ‘no’ then we can all take it from there. But until they say ‘no’ the issue is, and has been moot.

      Of course, during the last administration whenever the Congress even talked about using the power of the purse it was deemed the end of the Republic.

  8. What’s all this TDS again? Trump fixed Syria in like his first 100 days because that’s what he does. He’s a fixer, not a hater. Did Hillary fix Syria? No. Check and mate.

  9. Sometimes the difficult things have to be done. Bombing Syria was one of those things and I don’t recall Trump saying it would be easy or that it would fix the issue, it is the opening gambit. Am I reading more into this maybe but no more than the author of this article is

    1. I oppose Trump’s missile attack for strategic reasons (among others), but I hope I’m wrong about that.

      For the sake of the country, I hope Trump’s missile strike has only the intended consequences, and it turns out I was wrong about the risks.

      1. I hope the same. I have not decided if they were good or bad but has one person exclaimed. If we allow this chemical attack it will become a standard method of war thus someone had to act in a timely manner no time to go before the UN or let people know. So I hope it works and maybe if Obama had not let Syria cross the red line in the first place Trump may not have had to do what he thought needed to be done.

  10. I oppose what Trump did with the missile strike in Syria, but I don’t think he sees a simple solution there.

    Trump’s long term attempt to deal with Syria was about partnering with Putin to move against ISIS, there. His efforts to do that were sabotaged by everyone from neocons in the Republican party, opposition to everything Trump does by Democrats, and it was undermined by deep state figures in the CIA, NSA, etc.

    If and when Trump sends troops to Syria, remember that the alternative to that wasn’t doing nothing. The alternative was collaborating with Putin the way FDR did with Stalin–and all the progressives in the MSM went out of their way to undermine that effort.

    That being said, I don’t see Trump’s response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons as being intended as anything but a one time thing. If Assad escalates, that may change, but then if Assad escalates his use of chemical weapons against his own population, we’re likely to see world opinion coalesce around removing him from power–over Russia’s objections.

    Assad using chemical weapons again would be the dumbest move since Saddam Hussein rejected weapons inspections.

    1. If Assad escalates, that may change, but then if Assad escalates his use of chemical weapons against his own population, we’re likely to see world opinion coalesce around removing him from power–over Russia’s objections.

      Not to agree with you whole-heartedly, but I’ve heard various sources who were distinctly anti-Trump and anti-nationalism re: NATO and Brexit say some decidedly anti-UN things in the wake of this mess. Essentially pointing out that all a brutal dictator, or even Russia or China, needs to do is have one nation on the Security Council on their side in order to literally get away with murder/genocide and/or render the Council impotent.

      1. At some point, China and Russia will back down.

        They backed down on Iran’s nuclear program–and didn’t save Iran from crippling sanctions when they were found by the UN to have violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and I seriously doubt they would save Assad if–over their objections–Assad escalated his use of chemical weapons.

        It’s important to emphasize that if Assad escalated his use of chemical weapons, I believe it would be over Russia’s objections. Assad is like Hezbollah at this point. The reason Hezbollah generally doesn’t target Americans specifically isn’t out of the goodness of their heart. It’s because Iran and Russia don’t want them to target Americans.

        I don’t think Russia wants Assad to use chemical weapons again. If for no other reason, having America hit your staunch ally with impunity is humiliating for Putin back home. It’s probably harder to present yourself as a strong man in the upcoming election at home when America is hitting your staunchest ally with impunity.

        And didn’t the Russians just get out of a sanctions regime? Aren’t they still trying to weasel out of other sanctions?

    2. Given the Syrian/Russian/ Iranian response to date it appears this chemical weapons attack was a probe to see how/if Trump differs from Obama.

      Everyone wants an end game, and they need to know what avenues are open.

      1. If we’re really going to speculate, I doubt Assad would risk angering Russia by using chemical weapons without their knowledge.

        Trump may have given up on collaborating with Russia on ISIS, and Putin may have been trying to show Trump what not collaborating with Russia on Syria looks like.

        In which case, Trump’s response may have been stellar, but that’s all speculation at this point.

        1. “but that’s all speculation at this point.”

          But Assad’s chemical attack on civilians, that’s solid, right? We’ve got CNN insisting on it.

          1. My opposition isn’t about whether there was a chemical attack, but this isn’t about believing CNN.

            The symptoms were linked to chemical weapons by the World Health Organization, whose doctors were treating the victims

            http://tinyurl.com/ku6ef2o

            1. I read the WHO release you linked to. There was nothing saying that Assad was behind it. Where did you come up with that? If not CNN, then maybe it was FOX or directly from some Pentagon spokesperson, or even the president himself.

        2. ” I doubt Assad would risk angering Russia by using chemical weapons without their knowledge.”

          Absolutely, not sure how anyone could think otherwise. I’ll go one further – that the news, and -especially – the video of the attack got out so promptly and thoroughly says that the Russians were actively involved in the stage management aspect of the incident.

          Because, even if Assad wanted to, I doubt he has the resources or the people savvy enough to do it right.

  11. Trump has given the Russians something they could never have achieved by themselves – a clear win over the US. The Russians have made it clear that they will attack any US vessel that fires upon Syria – they drew a red line.

    If Trump stops here then Putin is now top dog having backed down the US. If Trump decides that Putin is bluffing and takes out a couple of airports the result could be that Putin, instead of folding his hand, decides to up the stakes by sinking an American ship and presto! the US is involved in a real war with someone who can evaporate an Washington DC in 30 minutes.

    The Russian economy is in shambles. Putin can’t risk a war lasting more than a few weeks. He needs a quick win or he faces economic collapse. How far would he be willing to go to preserve his tyranny? Take out an American aircraft carrier along with the support ships using a nuclear tipped cruise missile?

    This could make the Cuban missile crisis seem like the good ol’ days of peace and harmony.

    Trump has proven that he’s a dangerous fool.

    1. the next move will be based on wether Syria uses more chemical weapons or not its in their hands now. Hopefully Russia will keep Syria from calling anyones bluffs by either Russia or the U.S.

      1. Somehow I doubt that Putin has left Assad in a position where he can dictate relations between the US and Russia. Putin didn’t get where he by painting himself into corners.

        The US has already attacked Syria multiple times prior to this latest round. The idea that Putin is going to attack us, but only after the next time is likewise doubtful at best.

    2. The Russian economy is in shambles. Putin can’t risk a war lasting more than a few weeks. He needs a quick win or he faces economic collapse. How far would he be willing to go to preserve his tyranny? Take out an American aircraft carrier along with the support ships using a nuclear tipped cruise missile?

      This is retarded. Even if NATO completely evaporated tomorrow, Germany and the rest of the EU wouldn’t simply sit around while Putin supported Assad’s repeated violations of the chemical weapons deal *and* a sinking of a US warship. It wouldn’t be a question of quick win *or* economic collapse. It would be a question of economic collapse and trial for human rights violations or economic collapse and suicide (or fleeing to Syria, Iran, China, etc.).

      The only way Russia *wins* is if they manage to broker some manner of conditional deescalation or step down by Assad (if not his assassination). They have backed Assad, the man, and he won’t be forgotten as a brutal dictator and he will, eventually, die. At which time, the world will, once again, be reminded of what a tyrant he is/was. The best Russia can do is play brinksmanship games to inflate their standing on the world stage and enjoy the benefits of (still) being the primary ideologically anti-Western power.

      1. “The only way Russia *wins* is if they manage to broker some manner of conditional deescalation or step down by Assad (if not his assassination). ”

        Surprising how easy it is to appease ISIS and Al Qaeda.

        1. Surprising how easy it is to appease ISIS and Al Qaeda.

          My solution need not constitute such an explicit appeasement of ISIS or Al Qaeda.

          Win the war (occupy/control given territory by or for a given time), appoint your successor, and live in in exile kinda leaves no one happy.

          And, again, the only way Russia *wins* is if most/all sides involved walk away thinking “It’s a really good thing Russia did that!”

          1. “My solution need not constitute such an explicit appeasement of ISIS or Al Qaeda.”

            You write that you want to see some brokered agreement with ISIS or Al Qaeda. I guess this is a promising possibility to Americans weary of dealing with the Middle East. I think the Russians though are sincerely concerned with the fate of their fellow Orthodox Christians in Syria and are not likely to put any stock in a deal with Islamist terrorists. They’ve sided with the Syrian government from the beginning and some ginned up chemical attack is not likely to change that.

        2. Putin is trying to “win” in the old fashioned way – by making any alternative to Assad seem much, much worse.

          He’ll probably succeed. As much because any realistic alternative to Assad would be worse, but also because our attempt to ruin that old game once and for all – regime change in Iraq – failed.

  12. The author says — “In 2012, Barack Obama threatened U.S. retaliation if Assad used chemical weapons. When he used them anyway, Obama changed his mind, recognizing that major military measures had scant prospect of success but an excellent chance of catastrophe”.
    “When he used them anyway”?
    Et Tu Brute? Don’t you mean — allegedly used them? There are many websites which debunk the claims that Assad used those weapons, and what would he have to gain except World condemnation if he did? Especially with the latest event where the Trump administration announced that they had no intention of unseating Assad, then a week later Assad would do something so stupid? Please, don’t insult our intelligence. Even Alex Jones is starting to turn on his man Trump over the incident.
    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2…..ck-videos/

  13. The author says — “In 2012, Barack Obama threatened U.S. retaliation if Assad used chemical weapons. When he used them anyway”.
    “When he used them anyway”?
    Et tu Brute? Don’t you mean “allegedly used”? I expect more from Reason.
    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2…..ck-videos/

  14. The minority President is enamored of 2 things- looking tough and being the anti-Obama. This strike gave him the opportunity to do both. However given the suddeness of the response it is very unlikely that any serious deliberation occurred. This bombing was just a more lethal tweet- he saw something he didn’t like and reacted with no thought to the outcome of his words or deeds. First he emboldens the dictator by saying “regime change in Syria isn’t a priority,” then, when Assad feels it is safe to retaliate against the rebels; the Donald, seeing “bad pictures” of dead “babies” orders up cruise missiles after first notifying the Russians that we intend to use them because Putin would never warn Assad. The air field we hit was launching planes the very same day so the damage couldn’t have been great. Now, everyone must wonder exactly what will Macho-man-in-chief do next. Will Assad continue to provoke him? Will the Russians end their cozy relationship with the Trump administration? Will he be goaded to further unplanned actions and spur of the moment responses? This is not the way a nuclear power should run its foreign policy/

  15. Risky? Hardly.

    The mainstream media is showering glowing praise, the Brits who voted to not go along with the black guy when 1400 was killed with Sarin are happy, so are many in the world, and…

    The only risk is if Putin has something on him and is pissed off enough to dump it.

    That does not seem to be the case.

    Polls should give him a good bump

  16. Wasn’t Syria the scene of a missile gone awry in the Pat Frank novel “Alas Babylon”? This gambit might be The Don’s payback for his support from enRaptured readers of the “Left Behind” series.

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