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Blind Assault: Trump Strikes Syria

Feeling that some display of force was needed, US president Donald Trump issued orders on Friday to demonstrate some form of muscle, albeit exercised some thousands of miles away. “A short time ago, I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.” The United Kingdom and France also mucked in.

What was it all in aid of? There would be no redrawing of borders, no toppling of Assad, and even a possible aggravation of the security tangle that exists in a beleaguered country. It all pointed to staged outrage resulting in indulgent punishment, an act of violent scolding at the end of missiles for a claimed chemical attack by Syrian government forces last weekend that left over 40 people dead. In Trump’s words, “These are not the actions of a man. They are the crimes of a monster.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May eschewed notions that the assault was “about intervening in a civil war” let alone initiating some effort at regime change. “We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.”

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis insisted that the assaults were confined to “the chemical weapons-type targets. We were not out to expand this; we were very precise and proportionate. But at the same time, it was a heavy strike.”

Earlier in the week, there had been muttering, concern, and retraction. Trump was giving an enormous heads-up to his Russian counterparts on Wednesday. “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart’!” On Thursday, he cooled off. “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

This did not stop some in the analyst’s arm chair from considering that caution and assessment had prevailed. “The best thing that happened this week,” mused David Ignatius, “was that the policy process paused for a careful consideration of military options.”

Ignatius, with feelers deep in the Washington security establishment, praised Trump for his deferral of action to allow for “more study” before claiming that US planners had one fundamental problem: “how to calibrate military action this time so that it sends a clear deterrence message to Syria and Russia, without escalating the conflict.”

Certainly, Assad seemed to have been having things his own way. The chemical attack supplied an ideal pretext to assert authority in the name of protecting international norms, a concept that has never sat well with Trump. (Norms, you ask? What norms?)

Such strikes also seemed to be engagement on the cheap, with Trump having made it clear earlier this month that he wanted to be rid of the Syrian problem. “I want to get out,” he explained to those in attendance at a news conference with Baltic leaders. “I want to bring our troops back home.” His rationale was not complex: the “primary reason” for retaining a US presence was premised on the defeat of Islamic State militants, which was “almost completed”.

In expressing such views, Trump also reserved a few swipes against allies which have become a diplomatic staple, including the ever problematic Saudi Arabia. “Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision. And I said, Well, you know, you want us to stay? Maybe you’re going to have to pay.”

This raises a nice point, given Trump’s own words of disapproval directed against Teheran and Moscow in justifying the missile strike. “The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants and murderous dictators.”

Within Congress, there has been automatic approval, even from the Democrats, papered over with concern that taking an issue with such an assault would make them seem quietist. This is the age of macho and they must be seen to play along.

There were, however, qualifying pointers. Nancy Pelosi, House Minority leader, made the apposite observation that, “One night of airstrikes is not a substitute for a clear, comprehensive Syria strategy.” But not wanting to be left off the blood soaked wagon, Democrat Chuck Schumer deemed the airstrikes “appropriate” though “the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria.” The response of being too late comes to mind.

The evaluations have yet to come in, be there the number of missiles that found their targets; those shot out of the sky (a Syrian claim has been made that 13 missiles were shot down by air defences near Al-Kiswa); and the issue of whether substantial infrastructure damage was inflicted. Even the Syrian government’s own chemical arsenal has been deemed by France’s Emmanuel Macron to be “clandestine”, which is always a testing point on how best to assess success.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence was not even waiting, claiming that “initial indications are that the precision of the Storm Shadow weapons and meticulous target planning have resulted in a successful attack.” But this is the platform of illusions, and this presidency, the product of dreams and nightmares, is a continuation of it.

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17 comments

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  1. silkworm

    Feigned outrage against fake chemical attacks seems appropriate.

  2. Kelly

    I wonder how our minders, the press, will handle the narrative? As long as the illeratti wake up feeling safe tomorrow, with unhindered access the petrol bowser for the jet ski or Toorak tank, and the elected muppets in Canberra get a pay rise next month – it’s all cool bananas going forward.

  3. Michael Taylor

    Kelly, many in the US press are concerned about this. Concerned, that is, on what this will do to the stock market. True.

  4. LOVO

    Here comes WW 3 and CC….anyhoo, I’m off to surf for some Dog and Cat recipes to download ….whilst I still can 😯
    P.S. Do any AIMNers know of any long-life foods companies in Australia, or, maybe, any condiments that go with dogs/cats?
    Cheers 😩

  5. Matters Not

    MT re:

    that is, on what this will do to the stock market.

    And so they should. Trump boasts about his supposedly positive influence on the stock market and how it affects his rich, powerful and now tax endowed friends. He takes notice of same. It follows that a fall in the stock market will possibly deter him from further madness. But maybe not. Rationality seems to be in short supply.

    Perhaps, it would be better if the pundits in question (and Trump) simply howled at the moon?

    Needless to say, it’s a given that Australia will fall (mindlessly) into line.

  6. paul walter

    So sick of the ABC shoving this down people’s throats. So sick of the hypocrisy; the double standard.
    Where was all this self righteous bunk when the Saudis were murdering Yemenis and Israel; Gazans?

  7. Unsuspeting Innocent Bystander

    It will be interesting to see if they bomb Salisbury park to destroy that evidence as well.

  8. johno

    paul walter, spot on.

  9. Kelly

    @ paul walter, I’ve had enough of the lame analysis and barrage of pro-attack propaganda. It became obvious in the last 2 weeks from the news languaging that Syria was going to be bombed. Only once in the last week did I hear the ABC mention there might be some doubt as to the veracity of Syria being the real culprit. The parallel story of the nerve agent poison attack in Salisbury (nearby the Britain’s Porton Downs War Department Experimental Station) in the same month, how convenient was that? Re hypocrisy and needless deaths of children and innocent victims, remind me, how many people are killed in the USA each week by guns? Vietnam, what was that about again? WMD in Iraq, there was a great fake reason to attack if ever there was.

    I’ve lost any faith I previously had in news presenters and politicians, they’re sleep-walkers creating nightmares.
    That will eventually be their ‘out’, that they were asleep to the underlying distortions in their mental world that created havoc. This is how the world falls and rises again. Waves of delusion calling for awakening. Again and again.

    @MN & MT, those in the know probably shorted the appropriate stocks Thursday last week.

    @LOVO, there must be a kind of global balance of energy that is negatively influenced by the war mongers, but I think there are way more many intelligent and well-meaning people on the planet than those who hold to out-dated and toxic politics. The neo-feudalists can certainly cause damage, and a lot of it, but they are pushing against evolution.

    I look forward to the day the msm is dismantled and re-installed with management that is pro-life.

  10. Glenn Barry

    On another article, Matters Not published a link to a fairly astute analysis by The Young Turks on youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVow_nJzMv8

    I have an awful feeling that this is just the beginning

  11. Jamboree

    Seems to be a trend here of creating one’s own world and finding conspiracies everywhere outside one’s own bubble. This is terrifying. Wait for the Dumah inspectors to report. Wait for the relatives of the dead to speak and weep, and await the images of funerals; speak to the families.There is a horrible irony/symmetry in ABC Radio telling listeners today about how ALL sides used poison gases in WW1, and the outrage after the spy poisoning and the repeated, larger murder of civilians in Syria. Yet to note that everyone does it is not the same as cooking up conspiracies ie no one dunnit, it is all a big lie and charade, or, alternatively, that it was the Brits or whoever. Wait for the evidence and don’t dream up a world conspiracy, of which there are many. We have seen that all before, and it leads to genocide and world war.

  12. New England Cocky

    Ho Hum … I am reminded that the British MI5 was presumed responsible for the assassination of Princess Diana because she favoured a Middle Eastern business person, Dodi Fayed whose family had insulted upper class Britain by purchasing Marks & Spencers(?), the signature emporium. Charlie, of course, was having it off with Camilla Horse Face throughout the royal marriage to Diana. So will we get an adulterer for a head of State upon the demise of Betty Windsor, or will Australia grow up and become a Republic?

    Then I remember of the WMD, “words of mass deception”, created by the CIA and other so-called “spy services” insisting on very dubious information that Saddam Hussain in Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction. Hussein had not, as it turned out; but that was insufficient evidence to prevent the USA (United States of Apartheid) from extending the war of Middle East attrition into Afghanistan as a prelude to exploiting the numerous natural resources that magically were suddenly reported by western sources.

    Then there was the creation of ISIL, Daesh, a hatchling from the sordid depths of Abu Graeb prison, where US abuse and torture including water boarding of POWs was common practice, that rose to prominence by usurping the waste lands of northern Iraq and required removal by the Coalition of the Willing (CoWs) that took too many allied lives.

    John Howard sucked up to Shrubya Bush for his own reasons that have never been satisfactorily shown to benefit the Australian electorate, and Australian taxpayers have footed the ever increasing bill from revenue that would have been better spent on infrastructure projects within Australia.

    So who or what benefited from these imperialistic military ventures? Why, the manufacturers of war materials in the USA, the re-construction contractors and their pyramid schemes for profit stripping without working, and the self-serving western politicians who were kept in the manner to which they wished to remain accustomed by an electorate that was ill-informed by the foreign owned Australian main stream media.

    Thank goodness for AIMN and similar news networks dedicated to bringing balanced and objective analysis of political events to the people.

  13. Zathras

    Somehow using 105 missiles to attack only 3 targets suggests that it was either a massive overkill or that their targetting success rate was not as precise as they suggest. Of course we claim that miraculously none of those missiles harmed a single civilian.

    Otherwise it was just a show of strength that will ultimately be as effective as the last one.

    Also for some reason the use of those horrific White Phosphorus bombs in Syria and Iraq by the USA (banned under Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons for use in areas inhabited by civilians) is not classified as “chemical” warfare.

    But then again and as always, we are only interested in the narrative as being deliberately fed to us and can conveniently ignore everything that doesn’t fit.

  14. paul walter

    sorry- wrecked careers of discredited Western politicians.

  15. Glenn Barry

    Kronomex – I had thought Marise Payne of moderate intelligence, well at least sufficiently more intelligent than Whiney Pyney to be his superior.
    Yes I do realise that this is a very low bar indeed, however all metrics need a baseline…then I recently heard Marise Payne speak at a few press conferences…

    I think her entire life has been training to enhance natural talents – to realise her true potential to be an accomplished idiot par excellence

    Jim Molan is just a f#cking kook!

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