April 9, 2017

In an effort to understand the subliminality of war rhetoric, I erase some of the words in a paragraph of a Washington Post column.

Here's the first paragraph of "Obama’s Syria strike plan was much bigger than Trump’s" by Josh Rogin in The Washington Post:

Same screen shot, with erasures:

123 comments:

Matthew Sablan said...

To continue the submliminality, Obama says his was bigger, but Trump whipped it out.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Obama's was bigger but he couldn't get it up.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Man, that is a dishonest bit of writing.
Obama didn't do a damn thing in 2013.
the "pinprick" remarks by the GOP in 2013 were in response to Kerry's assertion that the undetailed, never carried out strike would be "'unbelievably small,' and would not lead to a larger U.S. military involvement in Syria."

Rogin:
"On Saturday, the Assad regime resumed flying missions from the Shayrat air base and U.S. officials have said that the chemical weapons stockpile there was intentionally left unharmed. There are also reportedly other Syrian government bases that still have chemical weapons stores."
No mention that the Obama administration took credit for eliminating Assad's chemical weapon stores.

The final paragraph of Rogin's story is simply ludicrous:
"Trump administration officials have said they are 'ready to do more.' And if Assad does use chemical weapons again, there are already plans they can use — the ones Obama and his team drew up and that Republicans criticized years ago."

Any person who thinks that Trump will ever get fair treatment from the WaPo should review the WaPo's anti-endorsement of Trump, published October 13 last year:
On Nov. 8, Americans will elect the next president of the United States. The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, is, as we have written, “uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament.” Below is just a sampling of his many erroneous, malicious and ignorant comments since he launched his campaign in June 2015, along with commentary from Post Opinions writers and The Post editorial board.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/opinions/2016/10/13/the-closing-argument-against-donald-trump/?tid=a_inl

Rusty said...

Conflict, like comedy, is largely a matter of timing.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Obama's was to be bigger. Trump's while smaller is effective, because Trump actually delivered the package ;-)

As they say. It ain't the meat, it's the motion

Michael K said...

I am not a fan of the attack last week unless there were deeper strategic purposes not yet described.

I suspect the message was not to Assad but to North Korea but only time will tell.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

I guess some folks may be interested in sussing out some sorta consistent, non-hackery ideas/principles/strategies re, if nothing else, when our country uses kinetic means in other countries.

Or, we could go in another direction when confronted w/ this sorta thoughtful POV. I.e., come up w/ a hostage taker's "writing" technique (i.e. hacking apart printed words) in order to concoct a cock off.

Anywho, supposedly the US dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/america-dropped-26171-bombs-2016-obama-legacy

Maybe BHO's problem was not getting a good PR ROI per bomb dropped.



Carry on.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I suspect the message was not to Assad but to North Korea


And to China. Don't think that they didn't get the message either.

buwaya said...

Its all propaganda. The trick is to read everyones propaganda and reason out a useful approximation of the truth.
Raw data is best, second best are digested statistics.

Opinion pieces like this are for deriving the message one of the parties to the perpetual conflict wants to push, and that itself is useful. Its interesting that they are still backing the Obama administration, which I guess the people paying for this propaganda still think is relevant.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

Doc Mike,

Can we assume that your strategic recommendation is the bombing Kim Jong-un's palaces?

Anywho, thanks for not mentioning the Assad palace thing again, in yet another thread.

buwaya said...

Obama tended to bomb people who had no friends, or no powerful friends. Thats usually the safe approach if one must bomb someone.
Assad however does have a few fairly powerful friends two of which have personnel and other assets in the way.

chickelit said...

And to China. Don't think that they didn't get the message either.

Are Chinese men known for penis size?

Matthew Sablan said...

"Maybe BHO's problem was not getting a good PR ROI per bomb dropped."

-- Part of it was that Obama telegraphed that he had no intention of significant follow-through. He was constantly assuring people he would not go big. So, the bombings were seen as akin to Clinton's bombing campaigns. A sort of wag-the-dog effort that could be turtled out. Compare that to this most recent Trump bombing, which had a clear strategic intent, succeeded at it, and then pulled back.

Obama made promises, drew red lines, never followed-through, and constantly assured people that we wouldn't go all-in to stop human rights abuses or defend our allies, even letting great opportunities like Arab Spring get strangled out due to his inability to commit to one course of action or another. Now, whether we could have turned that to our advantage is another question, but holding out the promise of American help so that people get riled up, only to never deliver as they are gassed and massacred does not inspire confidence. Mismanagements all around.

The first time a dictator stepped significantly out of line with Trump at the helm, he was met with a strong rebuke AND a devastating strategic loss.

Whether or not we SHOULD have bombed them, at least the bombing was done with some goal in mind.

Matthew Sablan said...

Note: I'm not saying this bombing was good; I'm saying it had a goal and met it. Which is much different from what we've seen before; remember how Obama hesitated to bomb terrorist supply lines, and hesitated and hesitated until Christians, several Muslim sects and just whoever happened to be in their way, were massacred enmasse by ISIS? Trump's actions are decisive; Obama's were overly cautious. Both have the potential to be disastrous; we just won't know about Trump's until it is too late most likely.

tcrosse said...

Obama let that Nobel Peace Prize go to his head.

Sebastian said...

Trump strikes Syria after it uses chemical weapons. MSM responds:

1. GOP sucks: they bitched then but not now.
2. Trump sucks: his strike was peanuts; if he does it again, he'll need the O plan.
3. O was great: he had a big plan.
4. O was great: he removed all the chemical weapons -- wait, strike that.
5. John Kerry was great: he defended an "unbelievably small" attack, which then didn't even happen -- wait, strike that too.

Original Mike said...

IOW, Obama is a tool.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"he was met with a strong rebuke AND a devastating strategic loss."

I think it's awesome that you believe that those 59 missiles hitting what they hit was a strong rebuke AND a devastating strategic loss.



Dust Bunny Queen said...

Are Chinese men known for penis size?

As I said. It ain't the meat..... /wink

To be serious. The effect of Trump's action is to show that unlike Obama, he isn't all talk. NO one was intimidated by Obama. The President of the United States was just an empty suit....or chair, if you want to use Clint Eastwood's meme. Trump has shown that he will act and that he isn't predictable. It doesn't mean that he is going to act as a loose cannon. It just means that the rules and predictable inaction of the previous administration cannot be used to measure what actions they (Chinese, et al) should be taking.

Gambling, playing poker, is a lot like warfare. You keep your cards close to your chest. And you monitor your 'tells'.

Lewis Wetzel said...

The Rogin opinion piece is pushing the thesis that Obama would not have bombed Assad at all, but if he would have, it would have been more awesome than what Trump did.
So Trump is stupid.
Hard to keep a straight face making that argument.

Matthew Sablan said...

"I think it's awesome that you believe that those 59 missiles hitting what they hit was a strong rebuke AND a devastating strategic loss."

-- It is silly of us to think that losing significant capability at an airfield, multiple planes, high ranking officials and their ability to deliver chemical weapons was a strategic loss for a regime. How silly of us.

Matthew Sablan said...

[As an added note, part of the reason we didn't completely destroy the place is because we let Russia have time to get their people out, and they of course gave Syria time to minimize their losses. If Trump truly wanted to be the warmongeriest warmonger out there, he could've hit the place without giving the Russians the courtesy call. If he'd done that, Russia would be significantly more angry, more people would be dead, but the strike would have been even more effective.]

stever said...

So there is still people that cling to the theory that Obama's inaction meant it was better. I don't have that problem.

Big Mike said...

I beg your pardon, Althouse, but did Josh Rogin actually offer any proof that Obama actually had any sort of plan of attack, larger than Trump's strike or smaller, either way?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If Trump truly wanted to be the warmongeriest warmonger out there, he could've hit the place without giving the Russians the courtesy call.

I believe that there was also a subtle hint that Russia wouldn't be totally upset when the Kremlin indicated that "support of Assad was not unconditional" wink wink.

SO now Russia, like Captain Renault in Casablanca, is shocked shocked...and going to throw a dramatic and not really very serious hissy fit in order to 'save face' and posture in front of the world. They probably wanted to spank Assad themselves and are good with Trump doing it for them.

This isn't really difficult stuff guys. Especially if you have been in business. That is how it works.

robother said...

"Trump has shown that he will act and that he isn't predictable."

Yes. I think that those (now on the alt-right) who are dismayed, who see this as simply knee-jerk neocon reaction to gassing of a few children are missing the significance of Trump's timing (the evening of his sitting down to dinner with the Chinese President.)

Laslo Spatula said...

Condescension is to 3rdGradePB_GoodPerson what OT III is to Scientologists.

He is eradicating the Fourth Dynamic Engram.

Your Whole Track is showing.

I am Laslo.

Inga said...

"....he was met with a strong rebuke AND a devastating strategic loss."

Exaggerating the size of his pinprick.

Trump needs to become Presidential and present a plan to Congress and to seek it's approval before he does anymore strikes. Interesting how Haley and Tillerson differ on the US stance on Syria. Trump needs to get his people on board his plan, but maybe he doesn't have one.

Hagar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Achilles said...

I want to know what Obama's plan for returning to the United states is. He has been hiding out for a long time.

He has a dozen or so court orders waiting to be served over various topics and requests for information now that he isn't protected by privilege. Going to be awesome watching a former predisent invoke the 5th over and over.

Laslo Spatula said...

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson: your E-Meter Needle is never going to Float with that Attitude.

I am Laslo.

Hagar said...

Some of China's greatest generals and admirals had no penis at all. They were eunuchs, and the way Chinese did that was by amputation of the whole works, not just gelding.

Achilles said...

Inga said...

"Exaggerating the size of his pinprick."

Brilliant and witty. But a lot of people on this thread like their Dick jokes.

"Trump needs to become Presidential and present a plan to Congress and to seek it's approval before he does anymore strikes. Interesting how Haley and Tillerson differ on the US stance on Syria. Trump needs to get his people on board his plan, but maybe he doesn't have one."

Just like Obama right? Obama told the mullahs in Iran more than he told congress. Going to be fun watching him answer questions under oath. If he ever comes back to the country that is.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

Laslo,

You're glib.

Hagar said...

Obama last heard of, was in Tahiti writing his memoir of his presidency while staying in a $2100/night estate.
How does he get access to the presidential files from French Tahiti?
Anybody heard from Bill Ayers lately?

Inga said...

"This isn't really difficult stuff guys. Especially if you have been in business. That is how it works."

Chuckling, when I remember what Trump said about healthcare.

Hagar said...

Otherwise for this thread:
Obama had great plans - the greatest! But Trump did something.

tcrosse said...

Trump needs to get his people on board his plan, but maybe he doesn't have one.

No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.

Fernandinande said...

NKorea: Take a close look at the faces behind the crazy fat boy in this DrudgeReport picture.

Are they all women?
Are they all on the verge of crying?

Sam L. said...

That be funny!

traditionalguy said...

From the results, I suppose DJT commanded the following to McMaster: In carrying out the task assigned , you will be governed by the principal of calculated risk, which you shall interpret to mean the avoidance of exposure of your force to attack by a superior enemy force without good prospect of inflicting as a result of such exposure greater damage to the enemy.

Except this time it was not Nimitz last chance to save the USA's dominance of the Pacific Ocean, it was Trump's last chance to save the USA's dominance of the planet's Euro-Asian land mass.

That man has guts.

Fernandinande said...

"Let me make something clear: The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks. Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver. I don't think we should remove another dictator with force -- we learned from Iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next. But a targeted strike can make Assad, or any other dictator, think twice before using chemical weapons."

jaydub said...

@Laslo, give up on Skippy as he's a waste of your considerable talent. Unless, maybe, you can develop a narrative of the girl in the pony tail (swish, swish) hilariously testing the flexability of Skippy's rectal passage with a two-by-four - not that I feel adequate to recommend any particular story theme to the master, but I can't help but think that would be a hoot! A word of caution to Miss Ponytail though, if Skippy's personality is any indication of the arrangement of his anatomy, I suspect she might have a tough time deciding the end in which to insert the lumber, so maybe she should bring a couple of two-by-fours just in case she gets the first one wrong?

Any who.....

Ann Althouse said...

Dust Bunny Queen @12:18 PM

That was my thought exactly.

Inga said...

"Unless, maybe, you can develop a narrative of the girl in the pony tail (swish, swish) hilariously testing the flexability of Skippy's rectal passage with a two-by-four - ....."

So now it's hilarious" to think of a commenter here being raped? Jesus.

Bob Boyd said...

traditionalguy said...
"From the results, I suppose DJT commanded the following to McMaster: " In carrying out the task assigned , you will be governed by the principal of calculated risk, which you shall interpret to mean the avoidance of exposure of your force to attack by a superior enemy force without good prospect of inflicting as a result of such exposure greater damage to the enemy."


What Trump actually said to McMaster: "Just the tip"

Jupiter said...

I'm afraid I don't understand why the US should care if Assad wants to kill Syrians with chemical gases, rather than pieces of metal or explosives. Or ropes, or bulldozers, or tall buildings, or flaming gasoline. It's unfortunate that all these Muslim shitheads are so kill-happy, but when they do it to each other in their own little shithole, it really isn't our problem. And yeah, I know Assad isn't a Muslim. The Yazidi aren't Muslims either. Anyone who lives around Muslims finds out it is kill-or-be-killed time sooner rather than later. That's why it is utter madness to import the useless things. Refugees. Refugees from what?

Jupiter said...

And as to the "size" of the strike, I am fairly certain 59 Tomahawk missles cost more than whatever they blew up. They're over a million a piece.

n.n said...

Trump's gambit. America saves face. Terrorists lose support. Assad (and American ambassadors) avoids the Gaddafi treatment. Another reformed dictator in America's stable. World leaders are reassured and optimistic. There is a dawn following the twilight.

Gorsuch, too. Baby steps. Sometimes a giant leap.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"So now it's hilarious" to think of a commenter here being raped? Jesus."

Oh, it's no problem.

That's probably just an attempt at humor that went sideways. It happens.

There's also a less likely chance that it's some sorta repressed homo-ness that's better released through jabber here instead of actually damaging ways.

AReasonableMan said...

Ross Douthat said...
If you were expecting Trump to actually govern as a paleoconservative, to eschew the use of force absent some immediate threat to the American homeland, to pull U.S. troops out of all their far-flung bases and leave entangling alliances behind, then the strikes against Bashar al-Assad are the latest evidence that you got played.

Inga said...

"Anyone who lives around Muslims finds out it is kill-or-be-killed time sooner rather than later. That's why it is utter madness to import the useless things. Refugees. Refugees from what?"

Crime in Dearborn, MI.- Average

n.n said...

Ah, I can't resist. There is no comment about Obama's premature evacuation that was a first-order cause of regional dissatisfaction.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Jupiter said...
I'm afraid I don't understand why the US should care if Assad wants to kill Syrians with chemical gases, rather than pieces of metal or explosives. Or ropes, or bulldozers, or tall buildings, or flaming gasoline.

The UN has special rules about the use of WMD and chemical weapons.
This is because they kill indiscriminately and their use can escalate conflict very quickly.

AprilApple said...

I don't recall what the media are talking about anyway. More airbrushing for their old king.

traditionalguy said...

"That man has guts," is the message DJT delivered loud and clear from Beijing to Moscow.

And he attacked with Patton like speed. Speed impresses people.

And when Nimitz needed a third Carrier to wait at Point Luck to ambush the most powerful Navy in the world, he ordered the Yorktown's 2 month repair job done in 2 days. And it was the Yorktown's Dive bombers that did the job of reversing the history of the world in 5 minutes.

I can assure you, the Chinese and the Japanese are very alert to what they just saw done to a nasty Muslim killer.

n.n said...

I wonder what will happen to anti-native factions' demand for democratic leverage, labor arbitrage, debt mitigation, resource capture (e.g. "oil for food", "apartheid"), and selective-child (i.e. dodo dynasty) compensation, once the first-order forcings of CAIR are exposed and neutralized in order to realize emigration reform.

jaydub said...

Inga: "So now it's hilarious" to think of a commenter here being raped? Jesus"

Sorry for the misunderstanding, but I had assumed this would involve consenting adults. And, you don't have to call me Jesus.

buwaya said...

The attitude toward chemical weapons seems like a case of irrational revulsion. In themselves they arent (so far) more effective casualty-producers than anything else that could be obtained and delivered with the same level of effort.

And there is a whole lot indeed in most arsenals that is just as indiscriminate; and too many people are too quick to dismiss people themselves as indiscriminate weapons. A crowd with machetes can kill very many very quickly. Rwanda 1994 wouldnt have been a bit worse with nerve gas instead of machetes. Better, probably, as you can more easily flee and disperse away from gas attacks.

The revulsion may be in the nature of the thing, or perhaps in the mythology of it.

Inga said...

"Sorry for the misunderstanding, but I had assumed this would involve consenting adults. And, you don't have to call me Jesus."

So Skippy consents to a 2x4 up his anus? Oh yeah that's plausible. I was invoking Jesus to protect Althouse commenters.

buwaya said...

It should be recalled that in the end after all the elements of surprise had worn off, the most effective tactical use of gas, and it was simply tactical, in WWI, was not to produce casualties but as a persistent area-denial weapon to impede movement, as an aid to counterbattery fire to force enemy batteries to move, and as harassment, to tire out defenders.
None of these are apocalyptic things, just ordinary military purposes.

AReasonableMan said...

AprilApple said...
I don't recall what the media are talking about anyway.


So if you don't know something it must not exist? Just like that nuclear physics and double entry book-keeping are wiped from the planet?

exiledonmainstreet said...

I don't believe Althouse commenters are snowflakes who require "protection."

buwaya said...

With Laslo, one has to keep in mind he is scoring for an orchestra, and his recurring themes are his instruments. Anal sex seems to be his percussion section, of which he is very fond, granted.

Inga said...

"With Laslo, one has to keep in mind he is scoring for an orchestra, and his recurring themes are his instruments. Anal sex seems to be his percussion section, of which he is very fond, granted."


I think with Laslo around, Althouse commenters need to watch their asses, as well as Seattle.

(It's a joke)

n.n said...

Anal sex seems to be his percussion section

... and the violins' sweet melody singing of life's evolution from conception.

Laslo follows in the footsteps of great composers who visualize the tale of life's romance, tragedy, virtue, and depravity, too.

Ken B said...

If we are going to talk about what Obama did not do, can I mention the red line?

Plus let's look at the logic. This is the first step in a plan which has not yet turned into a disaster. Rogan compares it not to the fully executed disaster Obama actually effectuated, but to some imaginary multi stage effort .

Ken B said...

PB tells us Midway was not a strategic loss for Japan, because it was just a small area on one day, and far from Japan too.

DanTheMan said...

The WaPo and NYT have a corollary of the Althouse rule: Whenever you compare Obama to Trump, Obama has to be better.

Here, we see Obama's not-carried-out imaginary plan is superior to Trump's actually implemented attack.

And if Trump attacks again, Obama will get the credit. Unless it doesn't work.

Big Mike said...

My thoughts regarding the US missile attack, in no particular order:

1) I truly hope Trump acted based on good intelligence when he launched those missiles. Based on what I saw from the US intelligence community post-election I personally wouldn't trust any of those people as far as I could pick them up and throw them (which isn't very far now that I'm a septuagenarian).

2) Fifty-nine cruise missiles with half ton war heads launched from just two destroyers??? A destroyer is not a large vessel! What could a couple Aegis cruisers and a destroyer flotilla do? I imagine there are people worriedly contemplating that.

3) I may be alone in this, but I actually like it that Trump is a bit unpredictable. I want people who mean Americans harm to have to wonder what sort of response they'll receive, and to err on the side of not doing whatever they had planned. Grizzly bears are also unpredictable, and wise people give them ample space.

4) That said, right now the world seems full of unwise people.

n.n said...

The art does not end (pun intended), however, with depravity, but rather weirdness. An effort, perhaps sincere, to reconcile twilight and dawn with a viable compromise.

Francisco D said...

Rogan's article should not be taken seriously. While doing his job as a DNC operative with a by-line, the attempt at sarcasm was childish. He deserves derision.

Cracker Emcee and Matthew Sablan hit the nail on the head with their initial responses. I laughed and almost spit up my coffee.



Lem said...

On a first read I understood "subliminality" as sublime as in "1.
of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.
"Mozart's sublime piano concertos"
synonyms: exalted, elevated, noble, lofty, awe-inspiring, majestic, magnificent, glorious, superb, wonderful, marvelous, splendid"

As in the sublime felling GayPatriot expresses whenever there is talk of life extinction event headed our way.

Or this tweet of his. https://twitter.com/gaypatriot/status/850031174412054528

But that isn't what Althouse means by "subliminality".

Btw. I think that's why MSNBC put Brian Williams to talk about the Syrian bombing instead of the regularly scheduled Rachel Maddow.

Maddow I believe wouldn't be able to quixotically blab about a bombing. I know, call me misogyny Lem.

sinz52 said...

I see that Althouse has dusted off Helen Caldicott's old "Missile Envy" argument from 30 years ago.

It was novel when the movie "Dr. Strangelove" illustrated it.

It was interesting when Caldicott argued for it.

But now, it's a political cliche.

sinz52 said...

buwaya: "The revulsion may be in the nature of the thing, or perhaps in the mythology of it."

It also gives those who are horrified by mass murder of civilians a convenient out: Let's ban the weapons while leaving the mass murderers in place.

Going after Assad's chemical weapons is the equivalent of the liberal anti-terrorism approach to ban so-called "assault weapons" (whatever THEY are). It gives you a convenient out to avoid going after the actual terrorists.

Trump's supporters don't see the connection between gun control here at home and WMD control internationally. Both are stupid ideas put forward by stupid idealists who don't want to face up to the evil itself.

J. Farmer said...

@traditionalguy:

I can assure you, the Chinese and the Japanese are very alert to what they just saw done to a nasty Muslim killer.

Huh? What message did they get they get? Are the Chinese not aware that the US is prone to use military force against weaker states? China is a great power with thermonuclear weapons. If, for example, they launched a military assault on Taiwan, what would the US do about it? The same thing we did when the Soviets invaded Hungary in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968...nothing.

Mark O said...

Such a naughty girl.

Hyphenated American said...

Seriously, at this point what difference does it make how big obama's plan was? He did not do squat, and claimed it was his biggest foreign policy achievement.

AprilApple said...

Arm - I said " recall".

In any case, turns out Kerry was wrong. All that self-congratulatory back-patting for nothing.

cubanbob said...

Michael K said...
I am not a fan of the attack last week unless there were deeper strategic purposes not yet described.

I suspect the message was not to Assad but to North Korea but only time will tell."

Doc, its a message for a lot of bad actors. Besides that, Trump was basically boxed into doing this by Obama. Obama made his line in the sand threat. Obama claimed he got the Syrians and the Russians to remove the chemical weapons. The Syrians (with the tacit approval of the Russians) tested the US by committing this attack belying Obama's claim. Either Trump acted quickly and forcibly and thus demonstrating the US isn't going to be punked or we get punked. The point is do not make threats you either can't carryout or won't carryout. And that is what Obama did and that is what Trump had to rectify. Incidentally notice the Chinese leader was in the US when the Syrians carried out the attack. Presumably they and the Russians thought Trump would not act while he was here and probably not act at all in the end. If I an not mistaken the attack occurred while while Trump was dining with the Chinese leader at Trump's home. A real Boss move. Several leaders were punked but Trump wasn't one of them. Indeed one of the leaders punked is hiding out somewhere in the Pacific on an extended vacation. While I have my reservations about Trump he seems to be making lemonade out of lemons and making fools out of his critics.

Lem said...

Did anybody see how Lawrence O'Donnell attempted to rescue the Trump and Putin are best of pals narrative?

He intimated the attack was hatched by the two men in order to rescue Trump from the investigation into the Russian election meddling or distract attention from it... I might not even be getting the conspiracy theory right.

wildswan said...

Interesting to see how Trump does stuff. Syria used WMDs, chemical gas, on children. Almost immediately, Trump bombed the base which launched the attack. But, he warned the Russians at that base - they had half an hour to run and they ran.

So does this mean Trump will suddenly bomb North Korea which is threatening mainland USA with attack with WMDs? As the question comes up, the man most interested in that question "happens" to be literally sitting right next to Donald Trump, namely, President Xi Jinping of China. Whatever thought, whatever he wanted Trump to know he had a chance to make his thoughts known at once, my lips to your ear, - which shows respect for China's opinions. Whatever Xi Jinping wanted to know - he had only to ask.

It's a different way of doing things. China knows what it wants to know; Russia knows Trump talked to China; North Korea has also acquired a piece of information. So this was all pretty good.

The Obama way of doing things is to say he or Hillary would have done it better and also did do it better although they didn't do it but the media won't notice which it was. Either. Or. Neither. Which I, with other citizens, got used to over the last eight years and even got a bit like that myself. Like Obama, I had a better plan and I also presented myself with the Nobel Peace Prize. But when I told myself I was in Tahiti with palm trees and stars, not in Milwaukee, reality crept in with little cold cat feet and then so did I. Because under Trump, reality is setting in and reality is hard.

Paul said...

' But Graham noted that Obama changed his mind at the last minute and ended up not striking Syria at all."

So Obama 'coulda, woulda, shoulda" but went yellow...

J. Farmer said...

@cubanbob:

Incidentally notice the Chinese leader was in the US when the Syrians carried out the attack. Presumably they and the Russians thought Trump would not act while he was here and probably not act at all in the end.

And what is the source of such a presumption?

While I have my reservations about Trump he seems to be making lemonade out of lemons and making fools out of his critics.

I think the Trump of 2013 was far closer to the correct response than the Trump of 2017: attacking Assad's forces is a stupid distraction for the United States.

Doc, its a message for a lot of bad actors.

Between 1983 and 1988, Iraq killed more than 50,000 Iranians with chemical weapons attack and about 5,000 Iraqi Kurds in Halabja. Iraq suffered no significant consequences from its use of chemical weaponry, and yet no other states were encouraged or emboldened to use chemical weapons themselves. The notion that failure to punish Assad for chemical weapons will lead other states to use them does not have historical precedent, and in fact, most states over the years have eliminated chemical weapons programs because they are not actually that useful on the battlefield compared to conventional military power. There are only a handful of countries in the world that even have much of a chemical weapons program, and many of those are partners of the United States (e.g. Japan, South Korea, India).

Francisco D said...

The quickness of Trump's response was a message to Assad and other bad actors. "This is not the Obama administration."

Other than that, I don't see this event as having much consequence, unless the bad actors don't get the message.

I supported GW Bush's OIF and OEF interventions. However, I have come to appreciate how much of a quagmire the ME is. I am far more hesitant to spend US dollars and spill US blood supporting one sociopathic mobster over another. When it comes to defending Israel, I have no such hesitation.

I think Trump understands that way of thinking. That understanding is one of the reasons he on the election. He may drift towards more interventionism than we expected, but let's try to understand the reason before we pass judgment.

J. Farmer said...

@Paul:

So Obama 'coulda, woulda, shoulda" but went yellow...

The US dropped over 25,000 bombs in 2016. The notion that the previous administration was averse to use of force is absurd. If anything, it made the exact mistakes as its predecessor in being overly reliant on the sledgehammer approach in an effort to solve intractable global problems.

J. Farmer said...

@Francisco D:

When it comes to defending Israel, I have no such hesitation.

The US actually has more obligations to the defense of Estonia than we do with Israel. We are treaty bound to defend Estonia in the event of an attack by a foreign power; we have no such obligation with Israel.

Francisco D said...

J. Farmer said: "The US actually has more obligations to the defense of Estonia than we do with Israel. We are treaty bound to defend Estonia in the event of an attack by a foreign power; we have no such obligation with Israel."

Do you really believe that almost any American President would not put a higher priority on defending Israel over Estonia?

I think not. You are just trying to be clever. OK. That was marginally clever.

AprilApple said...

Lawrence O'Donnell is the leader of the New Bircher Left.

David Baker said...

Interesting: Trump invited several banner-waving, roadside supporters into Mar-a-Lago on Friday. He met with them in the estate's ballroom, where he asked them more than a few cursory questions, but rather, engaged them about their families, their kids, and their lives. One of the supporters, a woman, was absolutely ecstatic, and subsequently spoke on local radio about the experience.

But what I took away was the level on Trump's involvement, always in touch with the people, the mark of a great manager.


Jason said...

Inga and 3rd Grade trying to do battle damage assessment, much less an analysis of whether this was a strategic vs. operational setback for Assad, = lulz.

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J. Farmer said...

@Francisco D:

I think not. You are just trying to be clever. OK. That was marginally clever.

No, I am trying to point out the absurdity of our convoluted alliance structure and the endless blank checks we are eager to write for other countries' defenses.

I think the American government should protect America and Americans, not Estonians and Israelis. Israel is a wealthy industrialized country with an advanced military and a large stockpile of nuclear weapons. They should be responsible for their own defense. Similarly, the eastward expansion of NATO initiated under the Clinton administration and pursued enthusiastically by the two administrations since has been foolish, counterproductive, and of next to no strategic value for the United States. And this foolishness shows no signs of slowing down, with countries like Macedonia and Montenegro next on the list for ascension.

chickelit said...

Barack Obama was not available for comment.
Why is that?

cubanbob said...

Farmer you replied to a comment that wasn't made. Trump was boxed into this by Obama. It is what the Chinese call face. His (trump's) immediate predecessor made the threat if this happens then this will be the result. Trump didn't launch a mass attack against all Syrian military bases just this one base. Obama with his threats put Trump in the position that he needed to do what he did. Trump wasn't president in 2013 but in 2017 he is and is bound in this matter for now by his predecessor.

As for Taiwan, we do have a treaty with them for defense. As for chemical weapons, whether or not it is a good policy we along with most of the world's countries treat them as "gateway" weapons (to use a drug analogy). Their use can lead to the use of stronger weapons (nukes)that is why they are considered taboo weapons. Indeed we and other nuclear countries have stated that if they were attacked with chemical weapons they reserve the right to retaliate with nuclear weapons. Assad will continue with his war and no doubt will be responsible for further atrocities but it isn't likely those atrocities from chemical weapons while Trump is president. That is one of the messages he sent. The others are we are willing to tolerate a lot but we do have our limits, make sure you know our limits.

Jupiter said...

Lewis Wetzel said...

"The UN has special rules about the use of WMD and chemical weapons.
This is because they kill indiscriminately and their use can escalate conflict very quickly"

The UN has lots of rules. They have a rule that says the US has to accept boatloads of Muslim "refugees". They have a rule that says Israel belongs to the imaginary Palestinians. They have a rule that says we have to turn off our economy. The UN is a democratic organization - one murderous thug, one vote. Fuck the UN. Fuck the UN with bells on.

Francisco D said...

J. Farmer said:"No, I am trying to point out the absurdity of our convoluted alliance structure and the endless blank checks we are eager to write for other countries' defenses. "

The "absurdity" you are trying to point out has defeated Soviet Communism and is holding Islamic extremism in check. I am not in favor of blank checks. I am in favor of making informed decisions and actions about our priorities on the world stage.

J. Farmer said...

@cubanbob:

Trump was boxed into this by Obama.

No, he was not. Trump was under no obligation to adhere to Obama's so called "red lines," and in fact, when Obama announced them, Trump publicly repudiated them and the idea of attacking Assad. His official position on the campaign trail was that we should not attack Assad's forces, so he had much more of a democratic to reject red lines, rather than being boxed in by them.

As for Taiwan, we do have a treaty with them for defense.

The Taiwan Relations Act only refers to the provision of military resources to Taiwan. It is not a mutual defense pact, and we are not obligated to treat an attack on Taiwan as an attack on the United States, as we are with the NATO treaty or the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan.

@Francisco D:

The "absurdity" you are trying to point out has defeated Soviet Communism and is holding Islamic extremism in check.

First, Soviet Communism was not defeated by NATO but rather collapses internally from its own contradictions due mainly to its inability to compete with the west's significantly more efficient economic system as it ideologically clung to its sclerotic centrally planned method. Also, American support for Israel is not "holding Islamic extremism in check." American actions in the middle east over the past two decades have exacerbated the Islamic extremism problem. The anarchic vacuum left behind following interventions in Iraq and Libya have been filled by Islamic extremists and support for the civil war in Syria has put American funds, training, and weaponry in the hands of extremists.

I am all for "making informed decisions and actions about our priorities on the world stage." I just wish the United States would actually start doing that.

Francisco D said...

J. Farmer wrote:"First, Soviet Communism was not defeated by NATO but rather collapses internally from its own contradictions due mainly to its inability to compete with the west's significantly more efficient economic system as it ideologically clung to its sclerotic centrally planned method."

Are you serious?

If not for NATO, those internal contradictions would have taken over all of Europe and eventually the US. Military force makes a difference.

It is still a fight against central planning (i.e., liberal Democrats) to keep our freedoms.

J. Farmer said...

@Francisco D:

If not for NATO, those internal contradictions would have taken over all of Europe and eventually the US.

I think that is nonsense. The Soviets suffered massively during its conflict with Germany during WWII and was primarily concerned with occupying the traditional invasion routes by which it had suffered outside invasions for centuries. That said, the containment strategy as originally laid out by Kennan, and he was right to repudiate the misapplication of his theory. Also, by the early 1950s, the US and the Soviets were amassing nuclear weaponry and the technology necessary to deliver them. By that point, a direct military confrontation between the US and the Soviets would be suicidal. The British and French also possessed their own nuclear deterrent.

Hyphenated American said...

"The Soviets suffered massively during its conflict with Germany during WWII and was primarily concerned with occupying the traditional invasion routes by which it had suffered outside invasions for centuries."

USSR felt it was at the top of its game in 1945. It had the first rate battle-hardened military. Stalin was interested in one thing - taking over the world.

"The British and French also possessed their own nuclear deterrent."

The French got their nuclear deterrent in 1960, 15 years after the end of WW2. Had USA left Europe unprotected, Stalin would have easily overtaken the rest of Europe, including Germany, France and Italy, Austria and Netherlands. Only the Brits had a chance due to the English channel and the powerful British navy.

J. Farmer said...

@Hyphenated American:

Two discoveries are especially striking. The first is that Stalin had no plans for an invasion of Western Europe. A war with the United States seems to have been something he dreaded. The Soviet Union was extraordinarily weak in 1945. In addition to the loss of infrastructure—Chris Bellamy reports, in his history of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, “Absolute War” (2007), that seventeen hundred towns, seventy thousand villages, twenty-five thousand schools, thirty-two thousand industrial plants, and sixty-five thousand kilometres of railroad track were destroyed—Soviet military and civilian deaths in the Great Patriotic War exceeded twenty-six million, almost fifteen per cent of the population.

The Soviet Union did climb back (as did the nations of Western Europe, whose infrastructures had in many cases been devastated almost as severely). But its leaders did not imagine overwhelming the West by force. The Soviet military threat was regularly exaggerated in the United States, sometimes by people who knew better. The Iron Curtain was not invisible: there was a posted and heavily patrolled strip running down the center of the continent. One did not wander into, or out of, the Eastern Bloc by accident. The whole point was to define a border: this is our side; that is your side. Maintaining a colonial population of some ninety million people was enough to keep the Soviet military and the Soviet economy fully occupied. In the end, in fact, it was too much.


-BLOC HEADS: Life behind the Iron Curtain

Hyphenated American said...

"The first is that Stalin had no plans for an invasion of Western Europe. A war with the United States seems to have been something he dreaded. "

But if USA had not declared that it would defend Western Europe..... That was your point....

"The Soviet Union was extraordinarily weak in 1945. "

By what standard? Compared to Western Europe? Compared to France, Germany, Italy? Or compared to USA?
Remember, you said that there was no need to US defense of Western Europe.

"that seventeen hundred towns, seventy thousand villages, twenty-five thousand schools, thirty-two thousand industrial plants, and sixty-five thousand kilometres of railroad track were destroyed—Soviet military and civilian deaths in the Great Patriotic War exceeded twenty-six million, almost fifteen per cent of the population."

And yet, in mere 4 years, USSR developed the nuclear bomb. And yes, Soviet Union suffered huge human losses in the war - but that would not have stopped Stalin. Military production was booming...

Here is one fact. In 1944, USSR produced 10,662 of T34-85. In 1945, (the war ended in May 1945), USSR produced 12,551 of them. T34 was by all means superior to American tanks. The Soviet heavy tank, IS-2 was produced 2,252 1,500 in 1944 and 1945 respectively. IS-3, 350 in 1945. Comparable story was on airplanes.

Now, it's true that USA could have defeated USSR in 1945 - but USSR was far stronger in 1945 than Nazi Germany. And yet, Western Europe, even with Great Britain, was no match to the USSR.

"But its leaders did not imagine overwhelming the West by force."

They could not overwhelm USA - but they could easily overwhelm everyone else.

"The Soviet military threat was regularly exaggerated in the United States, sometimes by people who knew better. "

Do you ever wonder why USSR was able to stop Hitler in 1941 and 1942, even before USA joined the war in any meaningful way?

Michael K said...

"Doc, its a message for a lot of bad actors. Besides that, Trump was basically boxed into doing this by Obama."

Some of that I agree with. Mainly, Obama was doing business with the Iranians and may have backed off Syria at the request of the Mullahs. Only Jarrett knows for sure.

Trump may speak softly (in a way only he does) and carry a big stick.

I still don't know why he did the Syria attack. Maybe it was just brandishing the stick.

Michael K said...

"The Soviet military threat was regularly exaggerated in the United States, sometimes by people who knew better. "

I disagree on this one. Truman was startled by what he learned when FDR died. There was still a "honeymoon" going on until Korea, which really started the Cold War.

J. Farmer said...

@Hyphenated American:

But if USA had not declared that it would defend Western Europe..... That was your point....

No, my point was that the Soviet Union was not "defeated by NATO," as another commenter had claimed.

And yet, in mere 4 years, USSR developed the nuclear bomb.

Thanks in large part to espionage efforts.

They could not overwhelm USA - but they could easily overwhelm everyone else.

Even if they did believe that, which I don't think is established, they had no intention to do so. The Cold War beings over the failure of the parties to agree to a post-war European arrangement. Stalin, an ideologically committed Marxist, saw no purpose in attacking Western Europe as he believed that these capitalist countries would inevitably attack each other. As I said, he was mostly concerned with a security corridor on his eastern front.

I don't know if you read the article from which I quoted, but it is a long review of Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956. It is from this work that the insights in the article I linked to were drawn.

Drago said...

J Farmer: "Stalin, an ideologically committed Marxist, saw no purpose in attacking Western Europe as he believed that these capitalist countries would inevitably attack each other."

Demonstrably false as the Soviet force structure and posture throughout eastern Europe (and opposite western European forces) for decades was one of aggressive rapid strike and high tempo offensive operations all designed to succeed in a relatively short period of time in their race to the French coast before the US and other allies could sufficiently resupply our forces.

Meanwhile all of our NATO forces were tasked with fighting violently at incredible battlefield tempo to hold off the advancing Soviet hordes long enough for that resupply to occur.

This offensive posture by the Russkies and the 100% certainty that we would be fighting on western European terrain was a key reason for the development of tactical nukes and neutron bombs.

This precise scenario was used by Tom Clancy for his novel "Red Storm Rising".

I never spoke to a US Army officer who had been stationed at the strategic Fulda Gap frontier area and he laughingly explained the role of his company was to inflict maximum damage on the advancing enemy and themselves dying as slowly as possibly. But make no mistake he said, his entire group was going to die in the event of a Soviet invasion.

That Army officer (and West Point grad) eventually transferred services and became a Naval Flight Officer and ended up commanding a Navy Squadron. Interesting guy.

Drago said...

Aaahhh! Spell check!

"I once spoke to a US Army officer ..."

Stop trying to "help me" tech companies!

J. Farmer said...

@Drago:

Demonstrably false as the Soviet force structure and posture throughout eastern Europe (and opposite western European forces) for decades

Stalin died in 1953. Reread the sentence of mine you quoted.

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"Going to be awesome watching a former predisent invoke the 5th over and over"

Oh wow. I'm awash in so much dopamine I can't stand up.

William said...

Truman ridiculed Eisenhower and his "secret plan" to end the war in Korea. Nonetheless, an armistice was put into effect not long after Eisenhower took office. So what was Eisenhower's secret plan? This is speculative on my part, but I think the following factors may be important: Eisenhower let it be known that he was installing nuclear bombs and the planes to deliver them on Okinawa. The Soviets knew that Eisenhower had been utterly ruthless in his war against the Germans. They knew that a previous American general had been fired for his advocacy for the use of nuclear weapons in Korea. The Soviets could do basic math. So could the North Koreans. They figured out the risk/reward wasn't worth it.......I think Trump has put a new factor in the Mideast equation. I don't know if it will work out in our favor,but the Trump factor will be a consideration in the plans of al, parties in those conflicts. Obama was more of a footnote than a factor.

Francisco D said...

J. Farmer wrote: "The Soviets suffered massively during its conflict with Germany during WWII and was primarily concerned with occupying the traditional invasion routes by which it had suffered outside invasions for centuries."

OK. I get it. That was the line spouted by he CPUSA for decades.

Was it Stalin who coined the term "useful idiot?"



J. Farmer said...

@Francisco D:

OK. I get it. That was the line spouted by he CPUSA for decades.

It is also the line spouted by Anne Applebaum in her book Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944–1956. It was the follow up to her Pullitzer-prize winning Gulag: A History. She currently lives in Warsaw with her husband, Radosław Sikorski, former foreign minister and former deputy minister of national defense of Poland. To quote further from the review of Applebaum's work:

"That world view is one reason that there were no immediate plans to attack Western Europe. Soviet Marxism—that is, Marxist theory as it was interpreted and dogmatized by Plekhanov, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin—held that capitalist states will always go to war with one another, and these wars will be a danger to socialist states like the Soviet Union. This was exactly how Stalin understood the Second World War—as a fight between capitalists.

Stalin required a security buffer on his western borders and a large military, armed with nuclear weapons, because he believed that when the capitalist countries went to war again, as the theory said they would, they would attack the Soviet Union. He also believed, as taught by the theory, that a world revolution leading to universal socialism was inevitable: it was the direction in which history was headed. The Soviet Union should be opportunistic while it awaited this great consummation; but, sooner or later, history would do the work."

Was it Stalin who coined the term "useful idiot?"

No. The term was attributed to Lenin, but that is apocryphal.

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Kirk Parker said...

Big Mike,

Re #2: these aren't your daddy's destroyers! The Arleigh Burke class is half again as long, and displaces almost 5 times (!!!) as much as the WWII-vintage Fletcher class destroyer. In fact the AB is within a hair of being as large as the St. Louis class light cruiser.

Hyphenated American said...

Dear J. Farmer:

I want firstly to express my general opinion. It looks as if you are making very big conclusions about the history and the intentions of the Soviet leaders based on one book. I believe it's fair to note that it's very risky to do so, without in depth study of other sources...


"No, my point was that the Soviet Union was not "defeated by NATO," as another commenter had claimed."

This is a very complicated issues.
1. Your original point was that USSR did not want or intend to occupy Western Europe after the end of WW2. In reality, the claim is solely based on the fact that Western Europe was protected by USA, i.e. NATO. Without US support, Stalin would have most likely occupied West Europe.
2. Did the Soviet fall out resulted from NATO? Well, from my perspective (a person who was born, raised and educated in the USSR), Reagan's military build up scared the Soviet leaders and pushed them to vote for Gorbachev, who then made a deal with Reagan, and disassembled the KGB apparatus, which eventually led to the the breakdown of the Soviet empire.

I believe I can defend both points quite well if needed.



"And yet, in mere 4 years, USSR developed the nuclear bomb.

Thanks in large part to espionage efforts."


It's true that Stalin was greatly aided by the communist sympathizers in the USA. And yet, building a nuclear bomb in 1949, even with some stolen know-how is a very complicated technological advancement. I believe you are are under-counting the level of engineering and scientific development in the USSR. Just check out the number of Nobel laureates in physics from USSR, or remind yourself who was first to send the man in space.

They could not overwhelm USA - but they could easily overwhelm everyone else.

"Even if they did believe that, which I don't think is established, they had no intention to do so."

This claim is easily disproved by multiple events. Let me give you a few examples...


The soviets tried to take over Poland in 1920. In order to put things in perspective, the Polish defenders were referred to as "White Poles" - in reference to the White Army which fought against the bolsheviks in the civil war. In other words, the Soviet announced that the attempt to conquer Warsaw in 1920 was a war of liberation of the Polish proletariat and the peasants against the capitalists. In other words, from the very beginning, the communist experiment was planned as an expansive one, and it could rely on the Red Army "liberating" the nations from the capitalist yoke.

During the civil war in Russia, the Czech POW were freed by Leninist regime. On the way home, they rebelled and take some of the Russian towns under control. This was described as "the rebellion of the white Czechs". Again, the reference here is that it was a capitalist uprising.

In 1940, Stalin attempted to conquer Finland. The Soviet regime organized a so-called "Finish people's government", and announced that the people of Finland rose up against the capitalists, and the Red Army was coming to free them.

Note that similar things were done when USSR occupied Poland in 1939 (the newspapers talked about the liberation of the people from the capitalist yoke). Of course, same non-expansionary Stalin occupied the Baltic countries, and forced Romania to give up part of its territory.

Hyphenated American said...

For Mr.Farmer:

You may try to claim that Stalin was trying to get a buffer zone between himself and Hitler, but it is obviously not true. In fact, Stalin did his best to move his borders closer to the Nazi Germany... A russian historian, Suvorov, formally an officer of GRU, defected to the West, and he wrote multiple books on the subject. His main claim was simple - he believed based on the military evidence he saw that Stalin actually was preparing to attack Nazi Germany, while it was fighting against Great Britain. In reality, Hitler attacked USSR possibly days before Stalin planned to invade Germany. It is a very rational explanation for very irrational location of the Soviet troops prior to the nazi invasion - the Soviet troops, equipment, airports, supplies were all located extremely close to the USSR-Nazi Germany border.

And last but not least, the Soviet slogan prior to WW2 was: We will fight the war will little blood spilled, on the enemy territory.
Before I forget, the Soviet military doctrine relied on a massive invasion of paratroopers.... Does this sound like a defensive war to you?

Hyphenated American said...

""That world view is one reason that there were no immediate plans to attack Western Europe. Soviet Marxism—that is, Marxist theory as it was interpreted and dogmatized by Plekhanov, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin—held that capitalist states will always go to war with one another, and these wars will be a danger to socialist states like the Soviet Union. This was exactly how Stalin understood the Second World War—as a fight between capitalists."

It's a little bit more complicated than that. While the marxist doctrine did assume that the world war between capitalist nations was about to break out, the popular idea was that the USSR would enter the war at a later stage, when both sides are exhausted and become a decisive force. In other words, Stalin surely had plans to invade Western Europe, he just needed convenient time to do that.

It's easy to see that Western Europe after WW2 was ripe for taking. There is no serious debate that in May 1945, USSR was by a huge margin stronger than France, Italy and Western Germany put together. In fact, if it were not the NATO and the US guarantee to defend Western Europe, Stalin would have invaded Western Europe and easily took it over. It's also easy to imagine that it would have been very easy to make a pretext - there were strong communist parties in Italy, France and Greece, and Stalin could use the "popular uprising" in these countries as an excuse for a "war of liberation". I cannot imagine that anyone would seriously doubt that a monster like Stalin would have let the countries neighboring him to remain free solely based on a "Marxist theory", which is quite supportive of the wars of liberation led by the international proletariat - in this case represented by the Soviet people.

Hyphenated American said...

"He also believed, as taught by the theory, that a world revolution leading to universal socialism was inevitable: it was the direction in which history was headed. The Soviet Union should be opportunistic while it awaited this great consummation; but, sooner or later, history would do the work.""


Opportunistic is the key word. You don't need to risk the communist regime unnecessarily, but surely it's okay to take calculated risks when the opportunity presents itself. Weak Western Europe was ripe for taking.

And one more thing - Stalin decided that USA would not defend South Korea - this was a result of feckless State Department, which put it outside of the defended perimeter. The result was the Korean war.... Stalin did not think America would come to the defense of South Korea. I don't think even you would argue that South Korea was needed by Stalin as a buffer zone to defend USSR from the foreign invasion.

In other words, if the capitalist West is not willing to defend the territory - Stalin would be more than happy to take it over. A small war was okay.

Mike said...

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...
"he was met with a strong rebuke AND a devastating strategic loss."

I think it's awesome that you believe that those 59 missiles hitting what they hit was a strong rebuke AND a devastating strategic loss.


FWIW I have backed off my initial assessment. Bob Boyd was right that the runways were not targeted. This was in effect the "unbelievably small" strike John Kerry was describing. The fact we bombed planes, hangars and some defensive systems is nice, but decommissioning the airfield would have sent a stronger message. It certainly would NOT have resulted in follow-on strikes to the same town where the gas bombs were used the day after if we had nailed the runway. This became a propaganda win for Assad and Putin in many respects. It certainly didn't help the wounded who were in the hospital bombed on Friday by Russian and Syrian aircraft operating out of Shayrat!

Either Trump wasn't clear (cue Chuck) about what he wanted the mission to achieve, or our "warning" to the Russians was really "negotiating" and in exchange for standing down on their AAA systems they got continued use of the runway, or the targeting team screwed up (which I think is least likely but certainly plausible).

William said...

@Hyphenated American: thank you for a detailed and informative rebuttal of J. Farmer's points........Stalin seems to have been a shrewd cookie. If the purpose of war is to gain power and territory, then he seems to have been the big winner of WWII.. By other standards and in other dimensions , he was the big loser.......By way of analogy, the big loser in the Franco-Prussian War was Germany. Germany's history would have been so much sunnier if they had not occupied Alsace Lorraine.

J. Farmer said...

@Hyphenated American:

You have obviously put a lot on the table, and I will readily concede that your knowledge of the subject most probably exceeds my own, though my knowledge does not come from a single book. I have read both of Applebaum's books, and she is certainly not someone who is at all sympathetic to the Soviet Union, so if anything her biases would be in the opposite direction. That is why I believed they were informative. Let's focus in on one thing you said:

Without US support, Stalin would have most likely occupied West Europe.

I believe I can defend both points quite well if needed.

What is your evidence for this?

Michael Gazonymous said...

it ain't the meat it's the motion.