Trump’s Missile Strike on Syria

JoshuaForeign Policy

Trump’s Syrian Missile Strike

The US airstrike on Syria’s Shayrat airbase Friday destroyed about 20% of the Syrian government’s operational aircraft, Secretary of Defense James Mattis claimed in a statement Monday.

The US fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian airbase after more than 80 people were killed, including children, in chemical weapons attack in Idlib province.


“In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.”
Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

“Trump campaigned on not getting involved in Mideast. Said it always helps our enemies & creates more refugees. Then he saw a picture on TV.”
Ann Coulter, conservative media personality

“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean, I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.”
Brian Williams, MSNBC

“Well, I think what the president did was an excellent first step, and it was a reversal of the last eight years. And I think it was important. But it’s now vitally important we develop a strategy, we put that strategy in motion, and we bring about peace in the region. And that obviously means that there has to be a cessation of these war crimes.”
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

About the strike

US officials originally said 58 of the 59 missiles fired Friday had “severely degraded or destroyed” their original target, including 20 planes which they said were taken out in the strike. On Friday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement only 23 of the US missiles made it to the airbase, blowing up just six MiG-23 planes.

Military flights from the Shayrat airbase resumed over the weekend, according to both Syrian state media outlets and an opposition group.
WCVB, ABC Affiliate

What’s different about Trump’s attack, however, is that it changes the rules of the game. Unlike virtually all of the earlier 7,000-plus strikes in Syria over the past five years, which exclusively targeted the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, Trump’s attack is the very first deliberate action against the Syrian armed forces.
Rolling Stone

In Moscow, analysts said that both Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had been carrying the burden of what is widely portrayed in the news media as a special, and friendly, relationship. The American attack in Syria has increasingly freed both men from that perception and offers both sides the opportunity to take the gloves off.
New York Times

It was the first time the US had targeted Syrian troops deliberately. The White House says it will repeat military action in response to any possible new chemical weapon attacks.

“The sight of people being gassed and blown away by barrel bombs ensures that if we see this kind of action again, we hold open the possibility of future action,” spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.


At a Tuesday press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed last week’s chemical weapons attack in the Idlib province of Syria was a “false flag” – a phony operation staged by enemies of Russia and Syria to discredit them. He said more such false flag operations were on the way.

Donald Trump’s decision to bomb Syria was influenced by his daughter, Ivanka, being “heartbroken and outraged” at the country’s alleged chemical weapons attack, one of the president’s sons told a British newspaper.
NBC News

“We have gone back through and looked at all the evidence we can and it’s very clear who planned this attack, who authorized this attack and who conducted this attack itself,” said Mattis. But he stopped short of saying the Russians had advance notice of the chemical weapons attack.

The intent of the Syrian attack was “to stop the cycle of violence into an area,” said Secretary of Defense Mattis, adding that “even in World War II chemical weapons were not used on battlefields. Even in the Korean War, they were not used on battlefields.”


“Trump wants to flex his muscles and show that he is different from Obama,” said Farshad Ghorbanpour, an analyst close to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. “But we don’t think he will continue bombing in Syria. This is just a knee-jerk reaction.”
New York Times

“He is not a guy who gets intimidated,” he (Eric Trump) said of his father. “I can tell you he is tough and he won’t be pushed around. The cards will shake out the way they do but he’s tough.”

Addressing the apparent reversal of his father on strikes against Syria, Eric said that while his father “was anti doing anything with Syria two years ago,” Bashar al-Assad’s “horrible” gassing of his women and children changed the game.
Daily Wire

One important factor that these critics have omitted from their reactions is that the intervention arguably does not rise to the level of a war. It may thus pass constitutional muster — provided that it is not allowed to veer off into a full-scale armed conflict between the U.S. and Syria, a step that the president would need congressional assent to take.
The Hill

The strikes may have been justified from a strategic standpoint, too — as a means of both advancing America’s interests in the region’s security and counteracting the perception of American weakness left by President Obama’s dithering response to past Syrian chemical-weapons attacks. A feckless, feeble United States — one that retreats from declared “red lines,” abandons the region to Vladimir Putin, creates a vacuum for the rise of ISIS, and generates a massive humanitarian and refugee crisis — is good for nobody.
National Review

Modified: April 11, 2017

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