The Cold War was a tense and dangerous time when the world’s two most powerful nuclear arsenals played a dangerous game of chicken, for the years following the end of World War II through the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Now, in a world where the two competing superpowers are more adept than ever and able to annihilate one another with a single click of a mouse, diplomacy would seem to be a most valued skill. The new Republican Administration has instead gutted the State Department, while calling for a $54 billion increase in military spending. The new President had already authorized an unsuccessful attack on Yemen. Following this new strike against Syria, the question must be asked, is the new President setting us up for a prelude to war?
On April 5th, 2017, the 45th President ordered the firing of 59 cruise missiles directed towards the Al Shayrat Airbase outside the city of Homs in Syria. Located north of the capital, Damascus, and south of the decimated city of Aleppo, Homs is Syria’s third largest city, which has also been nearly destroyed by the Syrian Civil War. The administration carried out the strike ostensibly based on a desire to punish the Assad regime for a recent attack with chemical weapons on Khan Shaykhun that killed approximately 86 civilians, roughly one-third of them being children.
The strike on Al Shayrat apparently was not intended to knock out the base as evidenced by the fact that the day after the attack, Syrian aircraft were able to take off from the base and,
“Carried out strikes on areas under ISIS control in the countryside of eastern Homs province.”
Fox News clearly overstated the extent of the strike, claiming massive damage to the base that was,
“Almost completely destroyed by the barrage of 1,000-pound warheads launched from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a press briefing on April 7, 2017, that,
“The runways were not the target due to the nature of the construction of those runways. Our military estimate was that we could not do serious damage to the runways. They are very thick and they’re constructed in a way that the ordnance that were used, while would have damaged them — the damage would have been easily repaired in a matter of hours.”
Before this attack, the under siege President was already trying to deflect attention away from the ongoing FBI and Congressional investigations directed against the administration. Perhaps this attack is being used as a reckless and cynical attempt by the new President to prop up his sagging approval ratings, now down to around 34%, as,
“The administration’s Russia story threatened to overshadow all policy initiatives the Trump team was pushing for. Putting an end to the story was clearly one of the major priorities of the U.S. administration.”
The new President has been suffering from historically low approval ratings but,
“Those figures are likely to see a significant boost following Friday’s strikes against Syria.”
President Obama wanted to respond to the August, 2013 Syrian chemical attacker in Damascus that killed some 1,400, asking Congress for authorization to act. Congress refused to vote on President Obama’s request, and he was met at the time by a continuing tweet storm from our new Twitterer in Chief warning the President not to do so.
Syrian President Assad remains in power because of massive assistance coming from The Kremlin, as Putin protects Russia’s only warm water port in Tartus, Syria, at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Russia, of course, is now part of the investigation into how the world’s most powerful nation managed to elect our current President.
Russia reacted with predictable, but possibly fake outrage, as right wing media sources from the United States and the United Kingdom report that the the Kremlin has warned the United States,
“It is ‘one step from war‘ over Syria”
They are also reporting that the new administration is saying that,
“It would be prepared to carry out airstrikes again.”
Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, strongly condemned the US for attacking ‘the legitimate government of Syria’ . They allege that the new administration is breaking international law, by striking autonomously, with no notice to anyone and without the approval of the UN.
While the United States believes that chemical weapons were used in the attack on Khan Shaykhun, Russia claims that it was a result of Syrian jets accidentally hitting a warehouse containing some sort of toxic substance which was responsible, blaming the deployment on rebel forces. The Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Moallem, denied the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Army. Vladmir Putin is calling for an independent investigation into the matter while Russia and Iran have,
“Warned the US they will ‘respond with force’ if their own ‘red lines’ are crossed in Syria.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping was dining at the Southern White House during the strike on Al Shayrat. Secretary Tillerson confirmed that,
“The President did directly inform President Xi near the end of the dinner yesterday evening as the missiles that are launched were impacting, which was about 8:40 p.m. last night.”
The right wing media at home and abroad consistently overstated the extent and the significance of the strike on Al Shayrat. Meanwhile, the administration has now dispatched a carrier strike force to the Sea of Japan off of the Korean Peninsula after warning China in an April 2, 2017 interview that,
“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
Secretary of State Tillerson confirmed the President’s position saying at the April 7, 2017 press briefing that,
“We would, and are, prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to coordinate with us.”
After attacking Syria during dinner with the Chinese President, and dispatching warships to threaten North Korea, the new President went golfing for the 15th time during his first 79 days in office. Perhaps the administration is looking to reignite the cold war or this most recent strike on Syria is a prelude to war. The evidence could also suggest that it is something entirely different. Stay tuned as the answers are revealed.