Opinion: Syrian strike was justified, but … what next?

(AP)

Angered by a sarin gas attack on a Syrian village last week, President Donald Trump last night ordered the launching of 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base that is believed to have initiated the attack.

The target was appropriate; the attack measured and well-justified. But the decision raises a lot more questions than it answers, including the most important of all:

What next?

It’s pretty stunning that just last week, Trump was refusing to even dip a toe into the Syrian mess, with his secretary of state and U.N. ambassador announcing that the United States no longer sought the removal of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. The official attitude was that despite the horrific human toll, Syria just isn’t our fight, a sentiment that Trump himself had expressed for years as a private citizen.

A few days later, we are suddenly in waist-deep, not as a result of a discernible strategy or policy but in a visceral response to the news of the day and to photographs of dead children.

“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed, and failed very dramatically,” as Trump told the nation last night. “As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen, and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.”

All of that is true, but none of it is changed by last night’s attack. Indeed, the town of Khan Sheikhun, the site of last week’s atrocity, was reportedly attacked again just this morning by a Syrian or Russian plane, this time carrying conventional weapons. The killing goes on.

If the president is serious about his statement last night — if he truly does recognize that the displacement of millions of Syrians and the destabilization of their country threatens the United States and its allies, if he’s sincere in calling upon “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria,” — then it’s going to require a lot more than Tomahawk missiles. It will require a full commitment of American influence and leadership, with the much-maligned soft power of diplomacy and foreign aid and negotiation playing a major role.

But beyond last night’s rhetoric, I see no sign that such an effort is forthcoming or that the Trump administration is capable of even trying. To the contrary, administration and Pentagon officials are describing last night’s attack as a limited and contained, intended only to punish Assad for his use of chemical weapons. So it is little more than a gesture, an exercise in virtue signaling.

And as we know, even “limited” military interventions can often have unlimited, unpredictable consequences. For example, how will Russia respond to this attack on its ally? Russian troops stationed at the Syrian airfield had been warned of the attacks beforehand and suffered no casualties. But in the aftermath, Russian officials immediately announced the cancellation of an agreement intended to avoid conflicts with U.S. and Russian aircraft over Syria, and President Putin condemned the United States for launching an attack on a sovereign government under a “contrived pretext.”

According to the Associated Press, the Russians also announced an immediate upgrading of Syria air-defense systems, a move intended to raise the pricetag of any further American action.

“The U.S. is being dragged into the war in Syria in the full knowledge that Russia is supporting Syria and our troops are there, which means it’s fraught with direct clashes between Russia and the U.S. and the consequences could be the most serious — even armed clashes and exchanges of strikes,” as one Russian legislator told Interfax.

In short, we don’t get to just walk away from Syria after last night’s attack, content that our national honor has been satisfied and that our horror at Assad’s brutality has been appropriately registered. But I’m guessing that’s exactly what the Trump administration has in mind.

 

Reader Comments 0

3025 comments
FIGMO2
FIGMO2

As a people, have we lost our ability to cope with life's inconveniences?

For some, it would appear so.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh...eeeeeeee...eee

tump.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

I missed this from last week, but good news from St. Louis:


https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/st-louis-voters-reject-mls-stadium


In a Tuesday vote, St. Louis residents opted to direct funds from a tax increase toward public services rather than a privately owned stadium. Voters passed two tax increases, but turned down a proposition that would have funneled one of those taxes toward a new Major League Soccer stadium, St. Louis Public Radio reports.

Voters in San Diego and the Seattle City Council also rejected publicly funding private stadiums recently, pointing to research that shows that stadiums are often a bad deal for cities.


Let's hope this trend continues and that these Field of Schemes finally stop getting built on the taxpayers' dime.

rimsky
rimsky

Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer for alleged involvement in "hacking" the US election, Spanish press reports have said.

Pyotr Levashov, arrested on 7 April in Barcelona, has now been remanded in custody.

A "legal source" also told the AFP news agency that Mr Levashov was the subject of an extradition request by the US.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39553250

++++

Now who else Trump is going to bomb.   LOLOLOLOL

Mary
Mary

Or the $50M for Sylendra (sp)

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@rimsky The question is what is the next multi million dollar PR stunt that Trump is going to pull to distract from the elephant in the room?  

Peachs
Peachs

@McGarnagle @Peachs @rimsky between that nothing burger missile strike and the investigations, we could have bought something the country needed, like some software security. 

Peachs
Peachs

@StraightNoChaser @rimsky will have to do with this dog and pony show in Moscow, they are hyping. Till, will go over there, get peed on by the same woman who peed on Trump, take a shower and come home.  Maybe drop a check off to Snowden to keep his mouth shut. 

Peachs
Peachs

@Mary already paid for by Russia. Russia has help our economic condition this year, in so many ways. 

Kamchak
Kamchak

@FIGMO2

Bush's predecessor's settlement was similar in nature.

Bill Clinton?

Good thing I never cast a single vote for him, huh?

Otherwise, I might die of embarrassment over the hypocrisy.

Schnirt-a-doodle-doooooooooooooooooo

Juuuuuuuusssssssssssst schnirtin'.

rimsky
rimsky

Marine Le Pen, France’s far-right presidential candidate, is denying France’s culpability in a roundup of Jews in Paris during World War II.

In an interview Sunday on French television channel La Chaîne Info, Le Pen disputed France’s role in rounding up more than 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track in 1942 ― a raid that sent many to their deaths at Nazi concentration camps.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/marine-le-pen-holocaust_us_58eaa635e4b00de14104473c?7a5&

+++++

I hope the French voters see through these RW AHs.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@rimsky

I hope she's dragged into the street and given a buzz cut, the way they used to treat Nazi collaborators after the liberation.

rimsky
rimsky

Climate Change Is Ruining Farmers’ Lives, But Only A Few Will Admit ItThey’re embracing new practices in hopes of influencing an industry stuck in the past.

++++

Yet some people don't believe in Climate Change.

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Gorsuch takes the oath -- it's official.

A great day for America.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Philo_Farnsworth

See, y'all could've just waited a couple of years (probably) and had a 5-4 majority back if you weren't soooo insistent upon behaving like the only way you could ever effect change was by hiding behind the SCOTUS' skirts.

Short term thinking is gonna have long term karma. You already sacrificed the judicial filibuster, and the legislative one will almost certainly be next.

Which will leave you up crap creek without a paddle next time you're in the minority in the Senate. Which won't be that long from now.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Kamchak

Bush's predecessor's settlement was similar in nature.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Something to lift the spirits of jay's cabin crew.

Fox Confirms Law Firm will Investigate O'Reilly.

One of those she said, he said cases.


Peachs
Peachs

@StraightNoChaser the right never bring up Iraq.  Yall going to botch up the hanging again? What is it about executions this country can understand.  There's a problem Thug can fix. 

Mary
Mary

All rise! The honorable justice Gorsuch is in the house!

Peachs
Peachs

@Mary the answer to a prayer?  I don't think he is going to be as conservative as the other nut, who died in bed with the hooker.  What is the conservative gene that makes horney a religious event. 

Mary
Mary

It is stuff like that which makes me all the more affirmed that I will never support a lib for president. The hate you spill is beyond any reasonableness. My God, it must be a terrible place to be!!

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Mary 

 I will never support a lib for president.

We will get over it.

Peachs
Peachs

@Kamchak @Mary the words lib and con. Not sure O was as liberal as labeled and I know Trump is going to have to go left to get any support from Congress. 

Peachs
Peachs

@Mary affirmed, you sound like a cult sometimes, and those right wing nuts, who want you to pledge no more taxes, when they are not your constituent.  I bet I am on hold calling  Johnny ,while Glenn Norquist holds my elected officials feet to his fire instead of mine. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

The tumescence we'll behold today on the occasion of Stolen Seat Gorsuch's coronation might be somewhat easier to take if you click the link below and remember that this can be corrected once somewhat sane people are back in control of the other two branches of government.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judiciary_Act_of_1869


No, we are NOT stuck with these corporate stooges rendering every piece of progressive legislation, or every progressive-friendly judicial ruling, "unconstitutional" for a generation. Not at all.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Visual_Cortex 

Let's take a positive view: if Gorsuch is truly an "originalist" then he will uphold the original principle of checks and balances re. the presidency.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@OriginalProf @Visual_Cortex

I recognize that some Presidents have been shocked at their "conservative" SCOTUS justices turning out to be not so right wing after all and yes, it's possible we'll find this guy is not to the right of Scalia.

But that wouldn't be the way to bet.