April 7, 2017

"The U.S. Navy launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles early Friday in Syria at a military airfield in response to a chemical-weapons attack this week on civilians... relying on a mainstay weapon when the Pentagon wants to attack from a safe distance."

"The missiles were launched about 4:40 a.m. local time from the USS Ross and USS Porter, Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, defense officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the operation. The strikes targeted al-Shayrat air base in Homs province, from which the Syrian military allegedly launched chemical weapons attacks against civilians Tuesday."

The Washington Post reports, explaining that the Tomahawk was used because "it does not require a pilot to be anywhere near a potential target" it "can be launched from Navy destroyers up to 1,000 miles away, a tactical consideration when facing enemy air defenses."

175 comments:

Darrell said...

Because 60 would have been overkill.

Xmas said...

Russia is very angry about this. I'm wondering if they had advisors at the airbase.

LuAnn Zieman said...

According to the news this morning, there were no Russian airplanes or personnel at the base. Apparently the Russians had been warned. The only dead were Syrian military.

I wonder if Russia's anger is merely showmanship.

David said...

I wonder how many of those missiles we have. 5000? 10,000? 100,000? For supply and other reasons you can't overuse them.

They surely did not want to send planes to where there are Russian combat aircraft and AA defenses. Too much combat and political risk, not to mention escalation risk.

The Russian presence in Syria is one of the biggest negative consequences of the Obama policies. Among other things, the fate of Assad is in Russian hands, not American, missile attacks notwithstanding.

(And by the way, these missiles were launched from two destroyers, which are largely unsupported by other ships. No American "fleet" was involved. Do we even have the capacity to sustain a broader effort against Assad if we choose?)

Bob Ellison said...

Calling them "Tomahawks" is cultural appropriation.

Once written, twice... said...

Trump again did a 180 degrees shift on where he stands on an issue. He's your fool: You elected him.

tim in vermont said...

I would rather we looked the other way and let Syria and Russia do what they have to to end the civil war. As far as I am concerned, this is the first thing Trump has done that worries me.

Hagar said...

So it is just a slap on the wrist and "do not use poison gas again!", not yet a change in policy.

Trump is eventually going to have to figure out which way he wants to go and who to choose for allies and enemies, and sooner will be better than later.

tcrosse said...

Food for thought for China and North Korea.

tim in vermont said...

Said once, who supported Obama and Hillary's escalation of the conflict in the first place.

David Begley said...

A stark, stark contrast between Trump, Obama and Hillary.

Trump got the information and recommendations and then acted decisively. No dithering. No worthless speeches.

It was in our national interest because the use of chemical weapons is strictly prohibited. Tillerson quickly tied the attack to Russia's failure (and breach of contact) to remove Syria's chemical weapons.

Very impressed and proud of our President and his team: Mattis, Tillerson, McMaster and Haley.

Now picture in your mind's eye what Hillary would have done. Or not done.

Curious George said...

"Rubble doesn't make trouble."

Tregonsee said...

The Tomahawk is a relatively slow, not particularly stealthy missile. Many flew past multiple locations where there are Russian "advisors" with state of the art surface to air facilities which could easily track and destroy (some of) them. So far there are no reports of any such firings, which indicates a level of at least tacit acceptance if not outright support. It has been made clear that the Russians had at least some warning to allow any nationals to vacate the area.

TreeJoe said...

Trump needed to do this and it was carefully managed and orchestrated. It is a clear deterrent on using chemical weapons and a potent "hand of God" message to would-be powers slaughtering their own people. It immediately re-establishes American "red line" credibility, it shows the UN was a useless organization it has become in enforcing passed resolutions and agreements, and it sets a useful price on the casual use of chemical weapons - the loss of an entire air station.

You think Syria is going to gas another village right now? You think Russia is going to provide propaganda cover if Syria does?

I believe at this time that Syria deliberately used chemical weapons to probe Trump's response, with Russia's blessing. Russia was all-too prepared to defend Syria immediately after this happened. I think they are unpleasantly surprised at the response.



Oso Negro said...

1) Are we sure that there was actual use of chemical weapons? It seems senseless to me to employ these when there are less dramatic ways to kill a few dozens of people? Could be a ruse?
2) If it is real, are we sure that Assad did it? There are, apparently, ten other factions involved in the conflict there, would it have been in the interest of one of them to do this to provoke outrage?
3) Is this our new policy? If Chicago has an especially bad weekend can we expect the destruction of O'Hare airport as a warning?

Oso Negro said...

oh and 4) Where is n.n. to provide the official Russian viewpoint on the attack?

J. Farmer said...

What can be said about this tomfoolery that hasn't already been said?

Well, here's one. Notice how everyone seems to take for granted that the president can just launch an attack on a foreign government with no authorization from Congress? The previous administration similarly claimed that it did not need Congressional approval to launch a war against the Assad government. This is an extremely dangerous precedent, and one that was hardened by Mr. Constitutional Law Professor in his decision to carry on the transformation of the United States into a permanent warfare state.

How pathetically sad that since 9/11, we've gone from "you're either with us or the terrorists" to being the terrorists' air force in Syria, helpfully taking out their regime opponents. Because once Syria is in the hands of the radical groups that are battling the government, things will be just peachy keen.

It's even more outstanding that anyone that considers themselves to be anyway "conservative" in their political orientation can support such an action. If there is a central insight to conservatism, it is that revolutions tend to be very dangerous, very unpredictable, and very bloody affairs that are best avoided at all cost.

Jay Vogt said...

tim in vermont said..."I would rather we looked the other way and let Syria and Russia do what they have to to end the civil war. As far as I am concerned, this is the first thing Trump has done that worries me."

This.

Think it might have been Kasparov who said the typical American response to a middle east crisis is to drop just enough bombs to make the problem worse.

TreeJoe said...

Hagar said, "So it is just a slap on the wrist and "do not use poison gas again!", not yet a change in policy.

Trump is eventually going to have to figure out which way he wants to go and who to choose for allies and enemies, and sooner will be better than later."

Hagar, a destroyed air base is not a "slap on the wrist" - how many military air bases does Syria have to launch chemical weapons from? 3-4? This is a very effective setting of the cost for use of specific munition.

Kate said...

Everything commenters are saying I've seen elsewhere, including the news reports that contradict each other. The loss of honest, reliable reporting is terrible.

The description of how Trump made this decision and what he did is like a scene out of "American President" with Michael Douglas. The Left should love this.

J. Farmer said...

@TreeJoe:

It is a clear deterrent on using chemical weapons and a potent "hand of God" message to would-be powers slaughtering their own people. It immediately re-establishes American "red line" credibility, it shows the UN was a useless organization it has become in enforcing passed resolutions and agreements, and it sets a useful price on the casual use of chemical weapons - the loss of an entire air station.

Nonsense. Obama was stupid to announce a red line, but it's an insignificant thing. Foreign countries are smart enough to know that American military intervention is not dictated by principle but by interests. When Bahrain reacted to its own Arab spring by murdering protesters, the US barely made a peep about it. The US has supported and encouraged Saudi Arabia's reckless, stupid war in Yemen. A good way to prevent a government's use of chemical weapons against its own people is not to fund, arm, train, and support rebel forces to violently overthrow said government. ISIS has been able to thrive precisely in those parts of Syria where government/military power has receded.

Meade said...

"Because 60 would have been overkill."

Clinton launched 90 during Operation Desert Fox.

David Begley said...

Request to Laslo. Give us a few lines of President Hillary's response. Please. Or that of Secretary of State Susan Rice.

David Begley said...

Tregonsee:

Or maybe the Russian air defenses don't work. Or the Russians were drunk. Or asleep.

Occam's Razor.

Jay Vogt said...

Kate said..."Everything commenters are saying I've seen elsewhere, including the news reports that contradict each other. The loss of honest, reliable reporting is terrible."

It's so bad now it has to be on purpose. Odd that the market won't fill this very obvious need.

David said...

Begley: "Trump got the information and recommendations and then acted decisively."

Decisive in one sense, that Trump made a decision and acted on it. But not decisive at all in resolving or even effecting much change in the overall problem.

We have now stated our goal as removing Assad from power. But we lack the means to do that on our own. The Russians hold the strongest cards, thanks to Obama. Only time will tell if this act has any long term meaning.

IgnatzEsq said...

This may sound harsh, but I've yet to see evidence that anyone or anything in Syria is worth fighting for. For every dollar we spend doing anything there, I'd guess that we'll get a return of nothing. It's not exactly like there is any good outcome on the horizon.

I'm mad at Trump for this, but even more mad at Obama and Hillary for the situation. Those two had the brilliant idea of supporting a terrorist insurgency against a brutal dictator, and then acted shocked when civilians were caught in between.

David Begley said...

David:

We can agree that Barack, Hillary, John and Susan totally failed; about 500,000 dead in Syria and 12 million displaced.

David said...

"Foreign countries are smart enough to know that American military intervention is not dictated by principle but by interests."

Are principles not among our interests? They are, of course, but it's a tricky concept.

Bob Boyd said...

"Because 60 would have been overkill."

Maybe one was a fizzler.

Mike said...

I think we gave the Russians a heads up and they stood down purposely. Assad made a big mistake using chemical weapons (my how Susan Rice's record of lying keeps growing!) at the very moment that NATO was discussing how to handle the continuing humanitarian crisis created by the Syrian civil war. He was giving us the finger. Satellite data showed a rush of aircraft out of Damascus about 11:30 local time, then zero activity, indicating there was at least some warning and possibly escape. We smoked the air base about 4:30 a.m. The Russians did not activate their air defenses (which coincidentally were supposed to be extended to Shayrat Air Base today) and they did not jam GPS signals to confuse the Tomahawks (which they can do, like we can).

For the naysayers, check out reports from WSJ and elsewhere that detail how we tracked the exact aircraft that dropped the chemical weapons. That was the reason this specific base (Shayrat) was selected for decommission. For the record, in zones under observation the US military knows every aircraft's location, when they take off, where they go, what they do and when the return. This RADAR information can be "rewound" so we can backtrack.

My belief is that this was a proportionate response to the use of WMD. This was not "regime change" imposed on a leader. This is not a war. But we do have troops in Syria fighting ISIS and it would be irresponsible of Trump to do nothing and pout our personnel at risk of chemical attack. The message has been sent to Assad (with, to me, obvious Russian neutrality toward their "ally") and he uses WMD again at his own risk. Putin can maintain his naval base in Tartus with or without Assad is the message I see being sent there.

Matthew Sablan said...

"So it is just a slap on the wrist and "do not use poison gas again!", not yet a change in policy."

-- Slapping on the wrist would have been a formal censure from the U.N. or a strongly worded tweet. This... is something else, and I'm not 100% sure what I think about it yet. One thing it isn't though is not following through; America warned them not to use chemical weapons, and they did. Something had to be considered, though not necessarily done; whether this was the right something we probably won't know for a good, long time.

The fact Russia let it happen though tells me that maybe they too think the situation is getting out of control there.

TreeJoe said...

J. Farmer said, "Nonsense. Obama was stupid to announce a red line, but it's an insignificant thing. Foreign countries are smart enough to know that American military intervention is not dictated by principle but by interests. When Bahrain reacted to its own Arab spring by murdering protesters, the US barely made a peep about it. The US has supported and encouraged Saudi Arabia's reckless, stupid war in Yemen. A good way to prevent a government's use of chemical weapons against its own people is not to fund, arm, train, and support rebel forces to violently overthrow said government. ISIS has been able to thrive precisely in those parts of Syria where government/military power has receded."

Yes, American military use is a tool wielded by presidents to achieve specific US interests. In this case, we have a multi-decade history of authorizing, banning, and approving bans of chemical weapons and chemical weapon use among the larger category of "WMD".

Our point is that we've determined as a country that the cost of allowing chemical weapons use and spread is too high and that we are willing to ban them in policy and discourage their use in practice.

I pointed out that this is a functional act of discouragement for a nation state (i.e. this couldn't be used as a deterrent to Al-Qaeda, but is effective against Syria). You responded with a non-sequiter, and I seriously hope your thinking doesn't run that way. We shouldn't deter chem weapons use because we should instead be focused on prevention? That was your point - as if the two are mutually exclusive.

glenn said...

And through all this the half million Syrians who died on Obamas watch were unavailable for comment.

David said...

BegfleyI agree. But that is why the task is even more difficult now, and the result and process will be unsatisfying. Unless he is assassinated, Assad will remain in power until the Russians decide to remove him. And Trump is now constrained in dealing with Russia because of the phony political attacks from the left about Russian collusion in the election.

Quite the mess.

J. Farmer said...

David Begley:

We can agree that Barack, Hillary, John and Susan totally failed; about 500,000 dead in Syria and 12 million displaced.

No more than presidents over the last 50 years who "failed" to stop the intermittent civil wars of central Africa. It is not the job of the United States to stop civil wars in other countries.

David said...

"The fact Russia let it happen though tells me that maybe they too think the situation is getting out of control there."

it is quite possible that they just were not ready. Our military probably know the answer to that, but they are going to keep it quiet.

David said...

"It is not the job of the United States to stop civil wars in other countries."

Not all, simply because we can't. But this is a lot more consequential to us and our allies and trading partners.

exiledonmainstreet said...

3) Is this our new policy? If Chicago has an especially bad weekend can we expect the destruction of O'Hare airport as a warning? "

Having had a miserable time at O'Hare a few months ago, I support this.

Chuck said...

I have complete confidence in President McCain and Vice President McMaster in the exercise of American military power. I hope every American will stand behind our commander-in-chief in this time of crisis.

Big Mike said...

The figure I got for the cost of a Tomahawk was $832,000 per missile. So we spent $49M to send a message, but I'll bet the message was received and understood, including by folks in North Korea.

Meanwhile how do we resupply the destroyers?

David Begley said...

J. Farmer:

No chemical weapons used in Africa. No red lines crossed. No other President promised to act and then did nothing. Major difference.

AReasonableMan said...

I guess this is a broader problem.

Trump's Troll Army Isn't Ready for War in Syria

exiledonmainstreet said...

I was quite dismayed by the attack, but I hope Mike has it right:


"My belief is that this was a proportionate response to the use of WMD. This was not "regime change" imposed on a leader. This is not a war."

Francisco D said...

This is sort of like professional wresting entertainment. The referee catches a bad guy blatantly cheating and slaps him upside the head to get his attention.

If the bad guy does not pay attention, what do we do next?

I'm not too worried with James Mattis as SecDef, particularly if he has President Trump's ear..

Rick said...

J. Farmer said...
If there is a central insight to conservatism, it is that revolutions tend to be very dangerous, very unpredictable, and very bloody affairs that are best avoided at all cost.


Most American conservatives aren't conservative. Rather they are classic liberals.

Mike said...

Oso Negro said...
1) Are we sure that there was actual use of chemical weapons? It seems senseless to me to employ these when there are less dramatic ways to kill a few dozens of people? Could be a ruse?
2) If it is real, are we sure that Assad did it? There are, apparently, ten other factions involved in the conflict there, would it have been in the interest of one of them to do this to provoke outrage?


1. Absolutely positive. The results speak for themselves. Occam's Razor: gee did Assad do this for the twelfth time or did some other actor do it?

2. This is specialized capability and we do have proof which aircraft delivered the gas. There are plenty of bad actors but they don't have aircraft to do this. It was not artillery or suicide bombers. It was not Russian aircraft, it was Syrian pilots (Alawites) operating from the now-former base at Shayrat for absolute certainty.

Gee WMD used to get people all riled up and now it's just, oh well for so many. This shit needs to be shut down and I think Trump made a measured and wise response.

J. Farmer said...

@TreeJoe:

In this case, we have a multi-decade history of authorizing, banning, and approving bans of chemical weapons and chemical weapon use among the larger category of "WMD".

First, the most notorious use of chemical weapons of our generation was during the Iraq-Iran war. Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran, but since the US wanted Iraq to win the war, it used diplomatic leverage at the UN to prevent any action being taken to punish Iraq for this, it authorized the transfer of dual-use technology to Iraq, provided Iraq with battlefield intelligence, and worked covertly to ensure Iraq had access to military hardware and weaponry.

Second, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons is an international treaty, and it is not up to the US to enforce or punish potential violators unilaterally.

Third, there are already plenty of incentives in place that discourage states from using chemical weapons. Primarily the fear of reprisal attacks. Chemical weapons are almost always a very poor tactical choice in a military conflict, a fact that further limits their use. Chemical warfare has only been used on very limited, sporadic bases since the end of World War II. And in their most infamous use, we were supporting the country that was using them.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Ted Cruz supports the strike.

That makes me feel better about it.

John McCain supports the strike.

That makes me feel worse.

I'll hold off judgment for now.

Robert Cook said...

"Trump got the information and recommendations and then acted decisively. No dithering. No worthless speeches."

He got "information" that hasn't been proved true and he acted against a foreign country that hasn't attacked us and is not a threat to us without UN approval,(which we would need even if the "information" were or proves to be true). Just like Bush and Obama.

Trump joins the ranks of the American war criminals!

tim in vermont said...

Not surprisingly, a soldier in a troll army,like ARM, thinks everyone he disagrees with is also such.

rhhardin said...

It's actually a N Korea strike.

Robert Cook said...

"1) Are we sure that there was actual use of chemical weapons? It seems senseless to me to employ these when there are less dramatic ways to kill a few dozens of people? Could be a ruse?
2) If it is real, are we sure that Assad did it? There are, apparently, ten other factions involved in the conflict there, would it have been in the interest of one of them to do this to provoke outrage?
3) Is this our new policy? If Chicago has an especially bad weekend can we expect the destruction of O'Hare airport as a warning?"


Good questions. However, as proven by our past many years, "this" is not new U.S. policy.

tim in vermont said...

Obama didn't just fail to stop the Syrian civil war, he escalated it.

I can't believe you guys are defending that.

J. Farmer said...

David Begley:

No chemical weapons used in Africa.

Yes there were. VX and sarin were both used in Angola.

Chuck said...

ARM;
Wow, that is such a fantastic link ("Trump's Troll Army Isn't Ready for War in Syria). Thank you very much.

richlb said...

The same people who saw a dead child lying in the sand on the shore of Greece and said "we have to do something" now see dozens of dead children on the ground in Syria and say "we shouldn't interfere."

J. Farmer said...

@tim in vermont:

Obama didn't just fail to stop the Syrian civil war, he escalated it.

Remember the criticism from Obama's right was that he wasn't escalating it enough. Remember McCain's stunt of flying to Syria and meeting with members of the Free Syrian Army for a photo op. He wanted us to train and arm the "moderate" rebels. How you distinguish moderate from radicals in a highly dynamic civil war I'll never know. I guess something like, "Okay, all moderate jihadis take one step forward."

Robert Cook said...

"Notice how everyone seems to take for granted that the president can just launch an attack on a foreign government with no authorization from Congress? The previous administration similarly claimed that it did not need Congressional approval to launch a war against the Assad government. This is an extremely dangerous precedent, and one that was hardened by Mr. Constitutional Law Professor in his decision to carry on the transformation of the United States into a permanent warfare state."

Not just Congress, but also the approval by vote of the UN Security Council, as per our Constitutional treaty obligations.

We have long since accepted unquestioningly the notion that the U.S. has the right and the authority to act unilaterally in any way it pleases, at any time, on any pretext, against any foreign entity.

We have gone insane.

Mike said...

And so-called Chuck can't even acknowledge Trump's restrained and proportionate response, which avoided Russian ire and destroyed an evil air base. McCain is not and never will be president, thank God! But some lifelong republicans (very interesting that Max Boot used that exact phrase to describe himself three times in one interview this week!) are so full of fury at a non-establishment Republican taking power that they have to construct an alternate universe just to enjoy a good bombing.

Birkel said...

On one side of the argument we have so called fopdoodle Chuck, J. Farmer, 'AReasonableMan', and Robert Cook.

I am unsure how I feel about the President's actions. But any time I see unanimity among those four I know there is a sensible position on the other side. Weather vanes are useful tools.

J2 said...


MSM totally blind-sided and without talking points. Some are throwing out some real stinkers, maybe in the hope that their POV will become the adopted meme. Brian Williams - too expensive.

Robert Cook said...

"Are principles not among our interests?"

No.

tim in vermont said...

What is with Max Boot anyway?

Matthew Sablan said...

Guys, can we have one thread where Chuck comments that doesn't devolve into 200+ posts of insulting him?

MadisonMan said...

Well, I'm of mixed feelings on this.

I think the use of Chemical Weapons on Syrians warranted a firm response, and I'm happy that Trump acted like a leader and called for a strike. On the other hand it's another step into the morass that is the Middle East, and that runs against my isolationism. Leave me alone!

tim in vermont said...

You got a frog in your pocket, Cookie, or is that the royal we?

Chris N said...

The best case I can think of for a measured, targeted response (if that's what this was):

If you believe in humanitarian causes, but waited around for an ' international' solution, at present, you have been putting the cart before the horse. If you want to prevent the worst suffering and abuses, and using gas in war is up there, you have to enforce some kind of norm against abusers and potential abusers (which may involve force and the threat of force). Assad is a fine example of a man with the logic (he and his father before him had/have been crushing political opposition) means ( they'be been stockpiling) and ruthlessness/desperation to do so now that the chips are down (on this note, think about deliverable nukes in a hot war between India and Pakistan...there is plenty of murderous rage there to fuck all of our lives up)

Syria is eating itself, a vicious fight which keeps getting more vicious, entrenched, and personal, while spilling into Iraq, Jordan, and Europe. while ceding territory to IS. It's not a country, really, anymore.

Terrorism and our fight against it is humming along nicely.

If the American military doesn't underwrite a Western ideal it presumes to be universal (acting as some kind of referee to enforce a few basic rules) or if we don't design/help create better institutions to enforce a few basic rules.....who will?

MadisonMan said...

And let me just say that Darrell's response right at the start made me laugh, and then cringe at my laughter!

Bob Boyd said...

Too bad we had to warn them. It's a lot easier to patch holes in runways than it is to replace jets and helicopters.

mockturtle said...

The Russians were, indeed, warned and they vacated the area earlier. Trump & Co. didn't want to force Russia into a corner. As it is, Putin only had to make an official statement about the illegality of our action. Without Russia's complicity, our missiles could have been detected and destroyed, as I understand it.

tim in vermont said...

No, I don't remember that criticism, unless you are counting the class idiot, McCain.

We said that Obama should not abandon Iraq to ISIS.

Mike said...

Hey J Farmer, Nikki Haley tried to move the UN to action and they sat on their hands. Just because the USA did not do the right thing X times in history does not mean we have to make the mistake NOW of ignoring WMD use. We took out one air base used to deliver prohibited weapons and even the Russians acquiesced.

What exactly would be the right response in your opinion?

mtrobertslaw said...

What is the evidence that Assad is responsible for this chemical weapon attack? There are more factions over there than anyone can keep track of who, when they are not fighting Assad, are fighting each other. Just asking.

J. Farmer said...

@Birkel:

But any time I see unanimity among those four I know there is a sensible position on the other side.

Seeing as the boring ad hominem is the only arrow you ever seem to pull from your quiver and that you can't seem to grasp that people from across the political spectrum oppose attacking the Syrian government, it's no wonder your thinking is so muddled on this issue.

Robert Cook said...

J. Farmer is killing it! in the comments, (if you'll excuse the expression).

J. Farmer said...

@Mike:

What exactly would be the right response in your opinion?

Doing nothing. Syria does not threaten the United States, and we don't need to be intervening in the middle of a civil war, especially when the alternative to the government is various factions of radical sunni jihadis.

Hagar said...

According to the news last night, Syria has 6 air bases.
59 (or 60?) Tomahawks on one base no doubt made for a very impressive "shock and awe" display, but Syria can still fly from the other 5. 10 Tomahawks on each, directed at the fuel tanks, ammo dumps, and power and communications installations would have been less spectacular, but would have crippled their air force for a good long time and would have represented a longer view change in policy.

Incidentally, Xi Jinping was dining with the Donald at Mar-A-Lago last night, and China has warships in the Mediterreanean now.

tim in vermont said...

But I guess that McCain running off his mouth justified Obama and Hillary's escalation of that civil war, which created so many refugees it has destabilized the EU.

Pookie Number 2 said...

I am unsure how I feel about the President's actions. But any time I see unanimity among those four I know there is a sensible position on the other side.

Can I push back against this a little? One of these things is not like the other.

Chuck's commentary is what one would expect from a jilted, none-too-bright teenaged girl, ARM is a reliable Democratic partisan, and Robert Cook is flat-out insane, but J. Farmer actually makes an informed argument, and it's usually worth considering what he writes, even if one disagrees with his assessment.

We get so little intelligent opposition to the Republican Party in these comments, I think it's worth noting when we do.

MadisonMan said...

Doing nothing. Syria does not threaten the United States

I don't see how a beacon of freedom like the USA -- well, that's its reputation anyway -- can just look the other way and ignore citizens of a different country being gassed.

I guess I'm not as isolationist as you are.

wildswan said...

If Obama cleared out the chemical weapons in Syria as he, the Russians, John Kerry, Susan Rice, the UN, Assad, and the mainstream media all said, then this attack would be wrong. Because chemical weapons would not have been used in Syria. But if chemical weapons were left there then bombing the base where the planes came from that used the chemical weapons seems the right response. We have troops in Syria and close by. Under Obama rules, Assad or others could use chemical weapons on them, then call for a UN investigation, then a Security Council Resolution, then the chemical weapons could be destroyed again and Russia, the UN, the media, Assad would all say they were gone. Then they'd be used in the USA and The UN, Russia, the US Syria would all agree again to destroy them. That is the alternative to Trump's action.

tim in vermont said...

The right position is to do nothing and say nothing. Hillary thought that the right position was to arm one side against the other.

Mike said...

exiledonmainstreet said...
Ted Cruz supports the strike.
That makes me feel better about it.
John McCain supports the strike.
That makes me feel worse.
I'll hold off judgment for now.


I like where you're going here. I'm pleasantly surprised by this:

Iran condemned the strike. (OK no surprise there.)
Allies called it "proportional."
Christianne Amanpour praised it.
Chuckie Schumer praised it.
Nancy Pelosi praised it.
Russia made some weak "we no cooperate" kind of responses, but no real vehemence.
Almost all GOPe (except our own LRC) praised it.

So the consensus view is GOOD MOVE. That's pretty cool.

J. Farmer said...

@tim in vermont:

No, I don't remember that criticism, unless you are counting the class idiot, McCain.

Here are the editors of National Review (does it get more establishment Republican?) on 9/03/2013:

But a congressional authorization, should it be forthcoming, and the inevitable delay as Congress debates the matter, raise the stakes. Any strike shouldn’t be a pinprick or necessarily a one-off but part of a broader, longer-term plan to topple Assad and defeat his allies. This means strengthening elements of the Syrian opposition we can trust, with arms and training; it means crafting and leading an international coalition committed to a post-Assad Syria; it means staying engaged beyond the next few weeks.

Chuck said...

Mike said...
And so-called Chuck can't even acknowledge Trump's restrained and proportionate response, which avoided Russian ire and destroyed an evil air base.


Oh I acknowledge: Trump's restrained and proportionate response avoided Russian ire and destroyed an evil air base.

Mkay?

Trump's restrained and proportionate response also comes after a dozen or so Tweets over the years, in which Trump was ridiculing, threatening and attacking any notion of such an attack carried out in the days of the Obama Administration.

And so if Trump is getting some flack from the 4Chan crowd... well, he earned it. Trump ginned it up, starting in about 2013.

No, Mike; as ususal, I am relatively unconcerned about Trump policy, when I am confident that his very competent cabinet and a very competent Congressional leadership are in charge of that policy. What I find amazing is how Trump got to where he is with the most breathtaking series of lies, misstatements, exaggerations and inconsistencies in American political history.

tim in vermont said...

If Farmer wasn't shilling for noted war mongers Hillary and Obama, I would have a lot more respect for his position.

Robert Cook said...

"So the consensus view is GOOD MOVE. That's pretty cool."

So, the determining factor in U.S. international behavior is not the law and Constitution, but whether it has consensus approval, and is "pretty cool?"

Mike said...

It's a lot easier to patch holes in runways than it is to replace jets and helicopters.

No it's not. Tearing up six foot deep reinforced concrete for three miles and replacing it is not a "patch" and costs many multi-millions of dollars. But we also took out the tower, the air defenses and the hangars so, they got a lot of crap to fix that they can't afford to because, well, ongoing civil war.

Robert Cook said...

"I don't see how a beacon of freedom like the USA -- well, that's its reputation anyway -- can just look the other way and ignore citizens of a different country being gassed."

Really? "Beacon of freedom?"

Really?

Chuck said...

Sorry I forgot to post this clever USAToday link, detailing Trump's idiotic series of Syria-policy Tweets in 2013:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/04/07/trump-tweets-about-syria/100154318/

Mike said...

No Cook, it is good on its own to remove WMD capability (I don't think their other air bases had stored WMD like this one). That we did the right thing and the usual naysayers are not crying foul means there was some consensus, which is IMO cool. Presidents do NOT need permission from any other body to take limited action. But Trump met with Congressional leaders and advised them he was doing a limited strike to remove WMD abilities. (More consultation than Obama ever did.) He did not start a war. He did not create an ongoing "police action." He did one good thing. If he had NOT and Assad had flown the same planes north to Raqqa today and gassed our Marines then everyone right and left would be screaming that Trump "let it happen" and you know it. Sometimes there are no good choices, only options that are strategic and those that are not.

This was in USA's best interest and we did the world a favor that stopped short of gross interference, like "regime change" would be.

mockturtle said...

As I posted yesterday, I was firmly against actions against the Assad regime, based on strategic considerations. Trump & Co. didn't listen to my wise counsel, heh! But I will give them the benefit of the doubt. A show of force against Assad [without a regime change] could be a deterrent for others. It does make it clear that we will act quickly and decisively. And that we don't signal our intentions.

Mike said...

Tweets past or present have nothing to do with what is happening now. Maybe you should go back and try to find consistency in Obama's views as a senator then as a presidential candidate then as a president. Oh right, so-called lifelong republicans all agree Black Jesus grew in office. Only tweets from a private citizen in 2013 are relevant now.

What an ass! I just now realized you must have an extensive database of Trump's utterances at your command. One might call this an obsessive monomania that blinds you to current events and reason. Politifact should hire you and Susan Rice.

mockturtle said...

Cookie, maybe you should just move to a more congenial country. Like North Korea.

MadisonMan said...

Really? "Beacon of freedom?"

Really?

I invite you to visit other countries. Start a business in France, or Germany. Become a cow salesman in India. Inveigh against the government in China, or Cuba. Flirt with another man in Africa, or in the Middle East. Preach the Christian Gospel, or criticize the prophet Mohammed, in Indonesia -- or again, in the Middle East. Walk through the slums of Rio.

Perhaps when you return -- if you do -- your head won't be up your ass.

The USA is not perfect --- but I thank God fate allowed me to be born here.

mockturtle said...

Foreign policy positions concerning foes, or potential foes, should never be fixed. While we should assure our allies of our support, we should be unpredictable with our enemies.

Francisco D said...

Cookie asked:"Really? "Beacon of freedom?"

Really?

Yes. Really! America is a beacon of freedom in the world and its moral, political , economic and military leader.

I know how that frustrates leftists like you.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Yes. Really! America is a beacon of freedom in the world and its moral, political , economic and military leader.

I know how that frustrates leftists like you.

4/7/17, 9:38 AM


What country does Cook consider a "beacon of freedom?" Cuba? Venezuela? Vietnam?

Communism has been a miserable, murderous failure everywhere it has been tried and yet Leftists cling bitterly to their religion. Someday, somehow, somewhere it will work.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Mike said...
Tweets past or present have nothing to do with what is happening now. "

Does anybody besides Chuck think world leaders are sitting around right now saying "But look at this tweet Trump sent back in 2013? Why, that invalidates his entire position!"

No. Except for Chuck, who undoubtedly has a "Trump tweets" folders where he saves every single damn tweet Trump ever sent and has them subdivided into topics. Nobody else gives a shit.

AReasonableMan said...

Mike said...
Tweets past or present have nothing to do with what is happening now.


Much like saying he was going to make the Mexicans pay for the wall and then demanding that American taxpayers pay. He is a gasbag, whose words are meaningless.

While this is an issue with most politicians, Trump is clearly an extreme case and this is why the electorate is steadily tuning him out.

CWJ said...

"Syria is eating itself, a vicious fight which keeps getting more vicious, entrenched, and personal, while spilling into Iraq, Jordan, and Europe."

Funny how no one ever gets around to mentioniung Lebanon. I wonder why that is? The last official count of Syrians fled to Lebanon that I've seen was 1.6 million. And that was from a year or so ago. The native population is only 4 milliom. In other words, Lebanon is dealing with absorbing a refugee stream equal to 40% of its population. That's some Johnstown flood level spillage.

AReasonableMan said...

If Hillary had started bombing a new middle east country less than three months into her presidency almost everyone here would have said, "We told you, she is a war-monger". A little consistency would go a long way towards making your arguments credible.

Bruce Hayden said...

Reposting from the previous thread.

Roger Simon made some good points about the strike on the Syrian airbase - that this was win, win, win, win for Trump (and the US)
- Assad got the message that gassing his people is a bad idea. No more Red Lines - the US will act with the overwhelming force we haven't seen since the last Republican was in the White House when a nation so blatantly violates international law and norms.
- As predicted above, it was done while Xi was here from China. Important in dealing with them, esp in their expansionist mood. Let the NORKs attack S Korea or Japan, and the American response to them will be immediate and overwhelming. All while wining and dining him.
- Shot across the Russian bow. Russia is one of Assad's primary backers, and stood aside when he used the Sarin gas. But they also stood aside while we struck his airbase. While showing that our fight was not with them by warning them in advance to get out of the way (and I am pretty sure that Tomahawks have inertial backups to their GPS just in case the Russian proxies try again to jam the GPS signals, as they did in the past).
- The US is back, after 8 years, willing and able to use military force when necessary.
- The idea that Trump and his people were conspiring with Putin and the Russians before the election looks even more ludicrous. Assad is a Russian client. Trump didn't care, except to warn them to get out of the way, which they did. Why again did the Russians want Trump to win over Croojed Hillary (who had given them the "reset button and sold them 1/5 of our uranium supply)?

AReasonableMan said...

The persistent criticism of Trump has been that he has no philosophy of governing. He is reactionary and undisciplined. He has some good ideas but lacks the intelligence to distinguish those from all his bad ideas.

Bob Boyd said...

"Tearing up six foot deep reinforced concrete for three miles and replacing it is not a "patch" and costs many multi-millions of dollars."

It's a 10,000 foot runway. But like you said, it's deep reinforced concrete. The 1000 lb. warheads could damage it, but it won't have to be excavated and replaced.

"But we also took out the tower, the air defenses and the hangars so, they got a lot of crap to fix that they can't afford to because, well, ongoing civil war."

Great. And even better, I read we may have gotten some aircraft as well, planes that now can't operate from another base.

Swede said...

We should tell them about the next 3 air bases we're going to bomb, so that they can move their aircraft and equipment.

Then, once their aircraft and equipment are concentrated on one or two bases, blow the shit out of it.

No boots on the ground and we just achieved air superiority.

You know, just in case.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Erza Klein tweet from September 2013:

"I can't believe the White House's strategy on Syria is working out this well. I doubt they can either."

Yeah, Erza, Obama's "strategy" sure worked well!

Mike said...

AReasonableMan said...
Mike said...
Tweets past or present have nothing to do with what is happening now.

Much like saying he was going to make the Mexicans pay for the wall and then demanding that American taxpayers pay. He is a gasbag, whose words are meaningless.

While this is an issue with most politicians, Trump is clearly an extreme case and this is why the electorate is steadily tuning him out.


Nice switch of topics there ARM! Earlier you said Trump violated his position on Syria. But he did not. He's going after ISIS as he said and he responded to changing events on the ground with a limited proportionate strike at the very assets that were used to gas children. Because your prior suppositions were wrong you now change to criticizing his stance on the Wall -- which has not even been resolved one way or the other yet. Trump could still make Mexico pay, but you gotta move the goal posts because, well, you're wrong at least as often as lifelong Republicans are.

readering said...

President Hillary Clinton would have done pretty much the same thing.

Pookie Number 2 said...

President Hillary Clinton would have done pretty much the same thing.

Fortunately, we'll never know.

AllenS said...

Now, if Trump is up to still being Trump, he'll send someone a bill for those missiles. Winning!

Swede said...

Never heard of her.

AReasonableMan said...

Mike said...
Nice switch of topics there ARM!


Not switching, adding other evidence.

Livermoron said...

J. Farmer wrote this to explain why PDT didn't need to send in a reprisal strike: "Third, there are already plenty of incentives in place that discourage states from using chemical weapons. Primarily the fear of reprisal attacks"

For someone considered an intelligent voice on the Left, this sure is stupid and lacking in self-awareness.

readering said...

AllenS Ha!

Surprised Trump didn't announce launching of Raytheon Tomahawks, then demand free replacements in return for great free publicity.

johns said...

Readering said: "President Hillary Clinton would have done pretty much the same thing."

Yesterday, at a "Women in the World Summit", Hillary said "I really believe that we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them."

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/06/politics/hillary-clinton-syria-assad/index.html

this disrupts some people's narratives and supports others. Personally, I agree with what Trump did.

J. Farmer said...

@tim in Vermont:

If Farmer wasn't shilling for noted war mongers Hillary and Obama, I would have a lot more respect for his position.

Huh? What are you smoking? I defy you to find one instance of me "shilling" for either Hillary or Obama.

J. Farmer said...

@livermoron:

For someone considered an intelligent voice on the Left, this sure is stupid and lacking in self-awareness.

First, I'm not on "the left" and have never identified. Second, the point I was making is that the use of chemical weapons, for a host of tactical and strategic reasons, are very rarely used on the battlefield and there are numerous reasons that constrain their use. Fear that the US will bing is not one of them. And this escalation in Syria does not change that one iota.

J. Farmer said...

Yesterday, at a "Women in the World Summit", Hillary said "I really believe that we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them."

One of the reasons some of us voted for Trump was the hope that he would not pursue such folly.

Livermoron said...

As I wrote, J.F. your lack of self-awareness is clear.

Your explanation only reinforces my point.

Did you vote for Trump or did you not? This "some of us voted for Trump" comment of yours is obfuscatory. Alluding to a group in a way that others may infer that you belong to that group or not. Schroedinger's Position?

J. Farmer said...

Yes, I voted for him. Primarily for his immigration policy, but I was holding out hope for a less interventionist foreign policy as well. Trump was an unknown quantity, while Hillary was advocating escalation in Syria and more confrontation with Russia.

J. Farmer said...

p.s. The "reprisal attacks" I was talking about were not punitive strikes from a third party but the fact that most countries never use chemical weapons in war out of fear of reprisal chemical attacks from the other side. The fact that chemical weapons have so rarely been deployed is because they are so often a really lousy tactical weapon. The notion that we needed to attack Assad to discourage other states from using chemical weapons is piffle.

Bruce Hayden said...

The difference, maybe, with what Trump did, and what Crooked Hillary probably would have done was that Trump took out the one airbase. A surgical strike. And he warned the Russians. Maybe she would have, maybe not. But the strike showed a lot of restraint, which I doubt that she is capable of, given her gender. We will, of course, never know.

Mike said...

readering said...
AllenS Ha!

Surprised Trump didn't announce launching of Raytheon Tomahawks...


Well at times both Lockheed and Boeing Defense made some Tomahawks too, but most were assembled by Raytheon. We have lots and lots of them on hand. Great surface weapon.

Mike said...

If the result is that Assad stops gassing people is this limited projection of power really "folly" Farmer? I know it's difficult to measure so soon afterwards, but with minimal loss of life and almost zero risk to USA we have done something that could turn out objectively good.

Do you see that possibility?

J. Farmer said...

..but J. Farmer actually makes an informed argument, and it's usually worth considering what he writes, even if one disagrees with his assessment.

We get so little intelligent opposition to the Republican Party in these comments, I think it's worth noting when we do.


Thank you for the generous assessment; I just want to point out that I'm not in opposition to "the Republucan Party," many of whose policies I support. I am in opposition to a kind of foreign interventionism that enjoys a depressingly broad bipartisan support.

Bruce Hayden said...

Yes, chemical weapons are poor, tactically. Part of that is because warfare is now much too fast moving, as contrasted with WW I, where everyone was a sitting duck for it, sitting in trenches. But what chemical weapons are good for is their in terrorem effect, esp against your own people who don't have special suits available, aren't trained in their use, and aren't going anywhere very quickly. And that is what both Saddam Hussein and Assad used them for. And that is why their use so violates international laws and conventions.

Bob Boyd said...

"But the strike showed a lot of restraint"

Maybe because it's not in our interest to hinder operations against ISIS.

J. Farmer said...

@Mike:

No, I think this is a complete sideshow. The chemical weapons attack killed dozens of people. Conventional military force has killed hundreds of thousands in Syria. It's a brutal, horrific situation that I don't think the US should involve itself in.

Mike said...

@Farmer

Fair enough. We do agree that regime change is a bad idea that has a horrific track record.

J. Farmer said...

@Bruce Hayden:

What do you think happens to Syria if Assad falls completely? As horrific as the use of chemical weapons may be, it's not difficult to imagine much worse scenarios (e.g. radical sunni jihadis taking over Syria)

Livermoron said...

J. Farmer irrationally wrote:
p.s. The "reprisal attacks" I was talking about were not punitive strikes from a third party but the fact that most countries never use chemical weapons in war out of fear of reprisal chemical attacks from the other side. The fact that chemical weapons have so rarely been deployed is because they are so often a really lousy tactical weapon. The notion that we needed to attack Assad to discourage other states from using chemical weapons is piffle.

____________________________________
Gee, J. I would've thought that reprisals are reprisals no matter from whom they come.
And reprisals can only be like for like (e.g. gas vs. gas)? What if, say one country used gas and another country responded with nuclear? What would you call that, a strong discouragement? Not a reprisal?

Your statement is nonsense.
But thank you for voting for PDT. As we can see from the news, we were going to have a president strike no matter if the finger on the trigger was orange or shaking from Parkinson's.

J. Farmer said...

@livermoron:

You're missing my point. Of all the violent conflicts that have occurred in the 20th century, only a handful of involved chemical weapons. And that's not because of fear of American bombing. The notion that failing to punish Assad will encourage other states to use chemical weapons is nonsense.

Livermoron said...

Not stopping Assad the first time he did this encouraged him to continue.

You don't even understand your own point. Now you are trying to switch to an argument about the practicality of using gas.

You are befuddled. Give it up.

J. Farmer said...

No, actually, I'm quite clear on this issue and have been so since the conflict started. It is folly to support the rebels and to attack the Syrian state. I am against both and have been since the beginning.

Michael said...

Big deal. He demolished an airport and killed less than a dozen military. The Russians are going to do squat in return. He should demolish an airport a day until they are all gone. Two weeks and finished. Sod off Vlad.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael:

Who do you think will be running Syria once the Assad government collapses?

Bob Boyd said...

@ Michael

The Russians and Assad are fighting ISIS. That is in our interest right now.

Livermoron said...

J. Once again you change the topic.

J. Farmer said...

@Livermore:

Yes, I'm addressing a different point by a different commenter.

Livermoron said...

J. Your response to me was as follows:No, actually, I'm quite clear on this issue and have been so since the conflict started. It is folly to support the rebels and to attack the Syrian state. I am against both and have been since the beginning.


We weren't talking about that at all.
But glad you finally gave up. You were twisting like Chubby Checkers.

J. Farmer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Farmer said...

@livermoron:

We weren't talking about that at all.

I don't know what "that" is, but I'm talking about attacking the Syrian state, which the US just did. I am against it and remain so for all of the reasons I have identified. If you have some counterargument you believe I have not adequately addressed, feel free to put it forward, and I'll give you my response.

But glad you finally gave up. You were twisting like Chubby Checkers.

Yes, I know. I think that's the third time you've made that point. It seems to be your only response to me.

Livermoron said...

Because you keep twisting. That is not my fault now is it?

J. Farmer said...

@livermoron:

Like I said, if you have an argument I'll be happy to respond. If you want to keep just talking about me, then I'm very bored.

Livermoron said...

My arguments were all made earlier and, unlike your responses to me were in direct response to you. You keep changing the discussion as I counter your obfuscations. I understand your boredom... reading stuff you can't keep up with must make it hard to maintain your interest.

J. Farmer said...

@livermoron:

My arguments were all made earlier and, unlike your responses to me were in direct response to you.

What arguments? You haven't advocated anything. And your "responses" to me have been little more than a litany of personal insults (e.g. "stupid," "lack self-awareness," "befuddled" etc.). I really haven't found that level of conversation stimulating since junior high.

Livermoron said...

Perhaps I should've added 'lack of reading comprehension'.

You are just being dishonest now, too.

J. Farmer said...

@livermoron:

Well if you'd care to quote anything you wrote above that you believe conveys your position, I'll be more than happy to reread it and see if my level of comprehension improves.

Robert Cook said...

"No Cook, it is good on its own to remove WMD capability (I don't think their other air bases had stored WMD like this one)."

After being unable to access blogger for several hours--apparently it was malfunctioning for quite a few people--I can resume commenting.

Ahem...there's no proof Assad was responsible for the gas attack, and, in fact, there's no proof he even still retains any chemical weapons. It also doesn't make sense for Assad to have done this, as Assad is winning the war against the rebels in Syria, and he would know that to do this--even assuming he had the weapons--would be crazy and would bring immediate retribution. I am inclined, until incontrovertible evidence is produced showing otherwise, that this is a false flag event by other parties, (including possibly parties supported by the U.S.).

As for WMD, let's be real: today's bombs and bullets are as much WMD as chemical weapons, if not more so, and the US has killed plenty of innocents throughout the mideast. (We also retain our own stock of chemical weapons. No hypcrites we, eh?)

So, yes, the gas attack is indeed a vicious crime, but we don't know who did it and for the U.S. to get all sanctimonious about it such that we violate international law--again--to justify our unjustified military attack on another non-threatening nation is simply sick-making.

Todd said...

Chuck said...

Oh I acknowledge: Trump's restrained and proportionate response avoided Russian ire and destroyed an evil air base.


Couldn't have left it at that could you?

Mkay?

Trump's restrained and proportionate response also comes after a dozen or so Tweets over the years, in which Trump was ridiculing, threatening and attacking any notion of such an attack carried out in the days of the Obama Administration.

And so if Trump is getting some flack from the 4Chan crowd... well, he earned it. Trump ginned it up, starting in about 2013.

No, Mike; as ususal, I am relatively unconcerned about Trump policy, when I am confident that his very competent cabinet and a very competent Congressional leadership are in charge of that policy. What I find amazing is how Trump got to where he is with the most breathtaking series of lies, misstatements, exaggerations and inconsistencies in American political history.

4/7/17, 9:01 AM


Wow this is getting tedious...

So, how long has Trump [like] actually been a politician? If you include the run-up to the election, what a year? So you are going back a dozen years to dig up old crap he said back before he was even in politics to attack him now after does something you don't dislike?

Do you also kick the dog when it brings you your slippers?

Robert Cook said...

"As I posted yesterday, I was firmly against actions against the Assad regime, based on strategic considerations. Trump & Co. didn't listen to my wise counsel, heh! But I will give them the benefit of the doubt."

It's a mistake--and contradicts the hard-earned knowledge of the nature of governments that inspired the founders to write the Constitution as it is--to give any administration the benefit of the doubt. They are responsible to the people and must put up or shut up about any claims it makes or actions it takes, especially military actions. Always assume they're lying, (as they almost always are).

Robert Cook said...

"Cookie, maybe you should just move to a more congenial country. Like North Korea."

Believe it or not, there are more congenial countries. North Korea is not one of them.

Bruce Hayden said...

@Cook - how do you know that there was no evidence that Assad used chemical weapons on his own people? Are you somehow privy to the same classified intelligence that the President is? Public absence of evidence is not evidence of absence thereof, esp when most of the evidence is likely highly classified.

AReasonableMan said...

Ann Coulter is not happy:

"Those who wanted us meddling in the Middle East voted for other candidates."

"Trump campaigned on not getting involved in Mideast. Said it always helps our enemies & creates more refugees. Then he saw a picture on TV."

Nor is Laura Ingraham:

"Missiles flying. Rubio's happy. McCain ecstatic. Hillary's on board. A complete policy change in 48 hrs."

You don't want to be upsetting those two old battle-axes.

J. Farmer said...

@Bruce Hayden:

Public absence of evidence is not evidence of absence thereof, esp when most of the evidence is likely highly classified.

Given the intelligence community's decades long history of failures, one should always be highly skeptical when secret assessments by secret people of secret evidence is used to justify war against another country. Of course, in the new era of permanent warfare, it seems to be taken as a given that the president can unilaterally attack other countries by fiat. That level of concentration of power in the executive is quite dangerous, and one of the reasons that the power to authorize war was not given to the president but rather to Congress. Unfortunately, our pathetic Congress is more than happy to jettison their constitutional responsibilities to check the executive out of political convenience.

Robert Cook said...

@Bruce Hayden:

If there were evidence it was, without question, Assad, you can bet they'd be providing that evidence to the world. At best we get Tillerson claiming we have"no doubt in our minds."

And, even if Assad is responsible, this does not provide justification for us to attack Syria, (just as it would not have if it had been true Saddam had retained WMD).

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Big Mike: I think Tomahawks are more like $1.5M each, so this was close to a $100M message.

Lots of potential for harm to the US here, but almost all of them involve us taking additional steps/making ever greater commitments and getting "sucked in." If we can keep our distance there's a chance this kind of action can do some good. Lots of "ifs" in there, though.

Tom Lindblad said...

Tomahawks are also useful as an offensive weapon when there are no aircraft carriers on the line with strike aircraft readiness above 30-40%

Michael said...

Robert Cook
"and for the U.S. to get all sanctimonious about it such that we violate international law--again"

Gas those toddlers, Bobby! Sear their lungs. Lord, did irony die with the word sanctimony on the lips of Bobby, Gas em, Cook?

Bob Boyd said...

Jerusalem Post is reporting Syrian planes already using runway at base struck by US missiles and conducting sorties against rebel held positions.

Achilles said...

A few dozen people killed with Sarin vs. Hundreds of thousands killed with conventional weapons.

And just as a point of order dying to Sarin because you can't breath sucks. But it doesn't hold a candle to dying because you have 3rd degree burns on 50-90% of your body from conventional weapons. I have seen the results of a few missile strikes. They would have preferred a nerve agent I am sure.

Not buying that this was necessary. I wish I didn't feel like Trump did this because he had to show he wasn't a feckless loser like Obama. It would have been better if he just told them to kill each other and we will only let women and children refugees come over. He still could have rightly called Obama stupid for drawing the red line anyways.

Achilles said...

Bob Boyd said...
Jerusalem Post is reporting Syrian planes already using runway at base struck by US missiles and conducting sorties against rebel held positions.

I wanted to know what the damage assessment was. 59 1000 pound bombs would have to be very specifically placed to disable an airfield for long depending on the airfield. It is possible but seems unlikely.

Bob Boyd said...

I don't think the intention was to disable the airfield. Why seriously interrupt operations against ISIS?
It seems the strike's purpose was to send the message that we could do serious damage and that we would.

Bob Boyd said...

Achilles said...
"Not buying that this was necessary. I wish I didn't feel like Trump did this because he had to show he wasn't a feckless loser like Obama."

I wonder if disagreement over this strike was at the root of the reported clash between Bannon and Kushner camps.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rusty said...

J. Farmer said...
@Mike:

"No, I think this is a complete sideshow. The chemical weapons attack killed dozens of people. Conventional military force has killed hundreds of thousands in Syria. It's a brutal, horrific situation that I don't think the US should involve itself in."

You are right except that theuse of chemical weapons has been nearly universaly condemned by every major country and the UN. The use of which is a slippery slope. When do we condemn the usage of wmd? How many dead from chemical weapons is the right amount?" They are silly middle easterners. Let them kill each other by whaever means are at their disposal."
Except.
If this is allowed and no response is made it is tantamount to giving permission to someone else to do it. Why did we do it? For the same reason we intervened in Kosovo.No one else will.

JOB said...

In football terms, Trump has fumbled a few times since taking office (some of which fumbles he’s recovered), and he’s got some good yardage on a few things. Syria is his first interception (not counting balls deflected).

I am cautiously optimistic that his quarterback rating will get better as the season goes along.

JOB

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

If this is allowed and no response is made it is tantamount to giving permission to someone else to do it.

No, it isn't. As I've said repeatedly, chemical weapons have only ever been deployed on a handful of occasions since the end of the Second World War. There are already numerous constraints on states preventing them from engaging in chemical warfare. Mostly, because they are almost always a terrible tactical choice for a whole range of practical purposes. Assuming the Assad government ordered the attack, what did it gain from it? Conventional munitions have caused much more death and destruction by several orders of magnitude than chemical weapons.

When do we condemn the usage of wmd?

Condemn it all we want. I condemn it. China condemned it, too. It is not the job of the US to unilaterally punish states by military attack when we feel they have violated an international agreement. A lot of countries believed we were in violation of the UN charter when we attacked Iraq; does that give those states carte blanche to launch reprisal attacks on us? Obviously not.

Lastly, weakening Assad's conventional military force is a very dangerous game to play. The most horrific outcome of all would be the for the Assad government to fall completely. What do you think will happen to Syria in that case? Psst...take a look at Libya. How great will it be if Assad's chemical weapons fall into the hands of a stateless group of radical Sunni jihadist, who make up the large opposition to Assad? How great will it be for ISIS to get its hands on those weapons? Once the weapons are in the hands of varying factions of guerrilla fighters, trying to bomb out of existence will become virtually impossible.

J. Farmer said...

@Bob Boyd:

I wonder if disagreement over this strike was at the root of the reported clash between Bannon and Kushner camps.

I have had similar ruminations. If true, it marks a very dangerous shift in direction for the administration. Trump won using the very popular Miller/Bannon strategy of putting America First and worrying more about the well being of our own people than people in Syria. Kushner was a lifelong Democrat about two minutes and is fully in lockstep with the elite's globalist agenda, which Steve Sailer sums up nicely as "invade the world, invite the world."

Rusty said...

J. Farmer said...
@Rusty:

If this is allowed and no response is made it is tantamount to giving permission to someone else to do it.

No, it isn't.

Yes it is. We'll have to disagree.

" As I've said repeatedly, chemical weapons have only ever been deployed on a handful of occasions since the end of the Second World War."

Yes they have and with devastating results


"There are already numerous constraints on states preventing them from engaging in chemical warfare."

And they've been ignored

"Mostly, because they are almost always a terrible tactical choice for a whole range of practical purposes."

The use wasn't tacticl it was political.


"Assuming the Assad government ordered the attack, what did it gain from it? "

Who else would? Why to terrorize, of course. Why else? It almost always works.


"Conventional munitions have caused much more death and destruction by several orders of magnitude than chemical weapons."

Not really the point is it. Use of conventional weapons is expected and can be prepared for.

When do we condemn the usage of wmd?

:Condemn it all we want. I condemn it. China condemned it, too. It is not the job of the US to unilaterally punish states by military attack when we feel they have violated an international agreement. A lot of countries believed we were in violation of the UN charter when we attacked Iraq;" except we weren't

"does that give those states carte blanche to launch reprisal attacks on us? Obviously not."

They would if they thought they could get away with it.

"Lastly, weakening Assad's conventional military force is a very dangerous game to play. The most horrific outcome of all would be the for the Assad government to fall completely."

We lew up somer planes and wrecked an airbase. Russia will give him more outmoded aircraft and rebuit his air base. The object wasn't to destroy his military. That much should be obvious.

"What do you think will happen to Syria in that case? Psst...take a look at Libya. How great will it be if Assad's chemical weapons fall into the hands of a stateless group of radical Sunni jihadist, who make up the large opposition to Assad? How great will it be for ISIS to get its hands on those weapons? Once the weapons are in the hands of varying factions of guerrilla fighters, trying to bomb out of existence will become virtually impossible."

Again you miss the point. The point wasn't to depose Assad. The point was to get his attention.
Again: Hence an airbase and not a palace.
Think of it as a shot accross his bow.

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

Yes it is. We'll have to disagree.

Evidence? Iraq launched chemical attacks against Iranians for years with pretty much total impunity. Did that encourage any other state to ever deploy chemical warfare?

Yes they have and with devastating results

Compared to what? Cluster bombs and napalm? Is dying from a nerve agent significantly worse than burning to death or being buried under rubble?

The use wasn't tacticl it was political.

Khan Shaykhun is under the control of Tahrir al-Sham. What differentiates tactical versus political in your mind in this case?

And they've been ignored

Not really. Chemical warfare is exceptionally rare. The last significant time they were used was the Iraq-Iran War against Iranians and Iraqi Kurds; in that case it was with our tacit support and approval.

Not really the point is it. Use of conventional weapons is expected and can be prepared for.

How do you prepare for a bomb falling out of the sky onto a building your occupying? Chemical attacks are responsible for about 0.03% of the deaths in the Syrian conflict.

Think of it as a shot accross his bow.

We don't need to be shooting across the bow of a leader whose government is under attack by violent jihadist insurgents. Weakening Assad's military forces, even marginally, is a very dangerous game.

Rusty said...

As I said. We'll have to disagree.
Are you referring to the duel use chemicals that Dupont and Dow supplied Saddam? I'm pretty sure th world looked at the use of chemical weapons at that time as horrific.

"Compared to what? " I've never asked a non combatant how they prefer to be murdered.

"Khan Shaykhun is under the control of Tahrir al-Sham. What differentiates tactical versus political in your mind in this case?"

And who died?

"How do you prepare for a bomb falling out of the sky onto a building your occupying? Chemical attacks are responsible for about 0.03% of the deaths in the Syrian conflict."

Are you referring to the current conflict or since the invention of artillary and ariel bombing?
Usually you can hear it.

"We don't need to be shooting across the bow of a leader whose government is under attack by violent jihadist insurgents. Weakening Assad's military forces, even marginally, is a very dangerous game. "

We do if they are using chemical weapons.Now maybe Assad will sit down and have a little chat.


I'm not a big fan of let them all kill each other if only because not all of them deserve to die. Or do they all have it coming?

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

I'm pretty sure th world looked at the use of chemical weapons at that time as horrific.

Yes, and the US acted at the UN and internationally to prevent any organized punishment of Iraq for his use of weapons. The administration was urging Iraq to increase airstrikes against the Iranians well after it was established that chemical weapons were being used.

I've never asked a non combatant how they prefer to be murdered.

Well obviously you are drawing a distinction between the use of chemical weaponry and conventional weaponry. How are the results anymore "devastating?"

And who died?

No clue. Do you? That what makes guerrilla warfare "asymmetric" in the first place. It's nearly impossible to differentiate civilian versus military. What would the Assad regime accomplish by terrorizing citizens of the city. Any evidence that the gas attack has had any effect on Tahrir al-Sham's resolve to continue fighting the Syrian government?

Are you referring to the current conflict or since the invention of artillary and ariel bombing?

Current conflict. Considering that conventional munitions have killed about 400,000 people in Syria, and chemical weapons have killed about 1,000 people, I'd say that one is obviously much more devastating than the other, despite what may be able to "prepare for."

Usually you can hear it.

How much time do you think it takes between hearing a bomb falling and when it actually falls?

We do if they are using chemical weapons.Now maybe Assad will sit down and have a little chat.

With who? Who do you think will run Syria in Assad's place?

I'm not a big fan of let them all kill each other if only because not all of them deserve to die.

Well there are violent conflicts all over the world. Should we intervene in South Sudan? Should we intervene against the Sinai insurgency? Should we intervene to stop the Somali civil war?