Pres. Trump’s Policy Choice on Syria

In the aftermath of Pres. Trump’s cruise missile strike on a Syrian air field used to deliver chemical weapons of mass destruction on Islamist Syrian rebels, it is both a useful and needful thing to revisit my Sept 9, 2013 post on the policy choices Pres. Obama faced then.

Choices that Pres. Trump must now address in convincing a cynical and war weary American people that Syria is indeed a massive threat to American security — and especially individual freedom — at home.

See link:

Obama, US Military Victory, and the Real “Red Line” in Syria

This blog post made the argument that America had the military means to overthrow the Assad regime with an air-sea military campaign using air-laid sea and land mines, but that “Bush Derangement syndrome” on weapons of mass destruction made it impossible for American political elites in 2013 to take action.

The following is the close from that blog post that outlined the choices Pres. Obama flinched from in 2013 and Pres. Trump now faces with the American public:

The choice that the Obama Administration faces is that nothing America does or doesn’t do will change Syria from being a terrorist supporting, failed, 3rd World state. The choice at hand is what kind of terrorist supporting state our inaction or intervention will create, and the wider consequences of that choice, especially for American freedom at home.
Doing nothing means we will have a Iranian/Russian/Chinese supported WMD using Syrian terror state that harbors Iranian Nuclear, Chemical and Bioweapons production facilities.
Acting to depose Assad means we will have an ethnic cleansing, al-Qaeda supporting, economically & politically irrational terrorist state that hates Iran and the Syrian Alawites who staffed Iran’s WMD facilities.
The first is an existential threat to American freedom, the second is a manageable local problem for Israel and the Turks.
A wide ranging break-out of WMD across the world means they will be much more readily available to terrorist organizations. The tighter surveillance and security steps the American state will need to implement in order to address that threat at home will reduce the economic vitality of the American people as the national security state crowds out more and more freedom as the cost of “security.” Leaving us all very much where Benjamin Franklin predicted…neither having or deserving either.
It will take principled and competent American political leadership to persuade the American people to face these facts.
I don’t expect it to happen.
Our current American political elites won’t cross the “BDS Red Line” that American public elected Pres. Obama for anytime soon. Obama’s election and actions since were in accordance with the expressed will of the American people. Only horrible events, like British Prime Minister Nevile Chamberlain’s “Peace in our time” conference selling out Czechoslovakia swiftly followed by Hitler’s repudiation of it, will let the American people hear and see reality on the other side of the “Red Line.”
However, the first step down the road of invoking competent & principled American leadership is laying down a rhetorical marker against the day that WMD proliferation forces the American public to listen
This is the marker:
“It’s American Freedom at Home, STUPID!”
‘Nuff said.

The best place to fight WMD using terrorists is overseas with the military, not at home with emergency first responders in chemical warfare slime suits cleaning up the bodies after a WMD strike.

The Bush administration refused for numerous reasons to defend its policy choices or provide known intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, allowing Senate Democratic leaders Reid, Pelosi and eventually Pres. Obama to destroy all federal government credibility on the subject.

Pres. Obama when faced with the same issue flinched from crossing his self-made WMD “RED LINE.

We will now see if President Trump is better at communicating with the American people past the “Bush Derangement Syndrome” based WMD RED LINE than Pres. Obama was.

45 thoughts on “Pres. Trump’s Policy Choice on Syria”

  1. Well I don’t buy the excuse for the attack, but what’s done is done.

    For what it’s worth, according to David Cenciotti at the some sources are saying today that Russian S-400 SAMs shot down over half of our Tomahawks. Not sure if that’s real or not. They say we flew them right over the Russian bases, only 23 cruise missiles made it to the target, and the resulting damage looks slight. If that’s true (a big IF I know), then I don’t see the point other than diplomatic virtue signaling.

  2. I fear that Trump has given in to the US Establishment. What a pity. It was worth the gamble because Hellary was vile, but you’ve ended up with another mad bomber to add to Clinton, Bush the Younger, and Obama. Is the US beyond redemption?

  3. Trump chose the middling response. He should have done nothing, he had the Obama precedent to rely on, or he should have gone all in.

    All in would be unleashing Nikki Haley to repeat her bravura performance at the UN on a domestic road show to convince America’s mothers that a butcher who would do this to his own country’s children must be stopped…before it’s your child. Then get an AUMF from congress to remove the will and capability for Syria to conduct such operations. Let’s see the democrats vote against women and children. Then, do the one shot attack we just did. I have to believe we know where the bunkers are with the WMD. Tell the Russians they’ve got 48 hours to get all the weapons on runways where we can watch them being loaded into Russian aircraft for repatriation. Then after the 48 hours are up eliminate the Syrian air force. If, and it’s a big if, we’ve got the capability to deal with the S-400 do it. Show that our tech beats Ruski tech again. If Russians die in the process, so sad. If Turkey wants to get in the way, throw them out of Nato.

    But no more ineffectual signalling half-measures. Put up or shut up.

  4. Dearieme,

    There’s effectual mad bomber and ineffectual mad bomber. I argue for effectual. But in no case should we be putting boots on the ground. We have no interest in imposing a solution on the Syrian people. They can go on killing each other using conventional means till the cows come home.

    The more the better. But killing women and children is unacceptable. We will respond to the use of WMD disproportionately. For the children. Understand Kimmy?

  5. How is it “effectual” to bomb part of a country on evidence that may well be false or non-existent?

    You’re not really going to argue that whatever the US Securitate tells the media is necessarily true, are you?

  6. There’s no evidence nor any indication that Syria is interested in projecting terror outside its borders, in the form of WMD or otherwise. However, Assad is a greater threat if he escalates his support to Hezbollah, who do have the capacity for international action. I don’t believe they have the motivation after being bogged down in the Syrian war for so many years, but who knows.

    Even with that admittedly very big problem, Israel has been managing the Assads for decades and continues to do it very well. And so have we actually. Last night wasn’t the first time we attacked him. It’s just the first time we advertised it.

    Maybe this could finally be the time removing the secular Arab dictator will work. Maybe there are moderate Muslims out there that will establish a stable republic. Maybe, but I’m not holding my breath.

  7. “Do you believe the pictures of the dead children were faked by the US Securitate?”

    No they really murdered those children, in an absolutely monstrous manner in order to push Trump off the cliff.

  8. “Do you believe the pictures of the dead children were faked by the US Securitate?”

    The camera ever lies. But whether these children were killed at that time in that place, or not, tells you precisely nothing about what killed them nor by whom it was used. To believe otherwise is hysterical folly.

    Remember the Maine! Gulf of Tonkin! 9/11 was done by Iraq! On and on the lies roll.

  9. Dm, you may well be correct. That is why I argue for a fresh AUMF before taking action. I tend to believe they are real because they argue against interest. Trump didn’t need this, he’s got enough to deal with in Kimmie. But it could be shaken out in the debate and responsibility shared.

  10. Facts:

    There is no way Assad used chemical weapons.

    Only 23 missiles got through, and they largely missed.

    The ones that did get through were probably spoofed as the runways are undamaged and they hit one plane bunker and destroyed 6 Mig 23s of the Syrian air force. The rest are scattered about with some hitting open country.

    The Russians have ended cooperation will reinforce Assad up to their standards and aircraft they don’t like will be shot down.

  11. There’s no doubt Assad has killed women and children during this war. The rebels have also, just few weeks ago killing dozens. We killed hundreds of civilians a few weeks ago too. Turkey has killed hundreds of Kurdish women and children over the last two years.

    It’s impossible to avoid killing civilians because the rebels are civilians. They live at home with their wives and children. They fight on the streets where they live and where their children play. Their children that are big enough carry rifles and fight. Their children too small for rifles are given suicide bomb belts. That’s who we protected last night.

  12. PenGun’s “facts” courtesy of the 100% reliable remote viewing capabilities afforded by his enormous pulsing brain, of course. That and Russian press releases, which are of course perfectly reliable (just like ours!).

    TLAMs are pretty reliable and I doubt that even with the warning we gave them the Russians would spend enough expensive missiles to knock 30+ of them down for no real benefit. That said, the Tomahawk is one of the target types the S-400 system was designed for and, with foreknowledge of the target and (probably) the flight path, it’s not unreasonable that they might have tried a few intercepts just to get the live-fire experience.

  13. Now this is from my ‘enormous pulsing brain’. It looks like the evidence to hang the chemical attack on Assad is failing, and there are various sources that blame it on the west.

    We have one message from a Syrian journalist that said he was going to cover the attack, the day before it happened. There is also a leaked British defense company set of emails that point to Qatar being willing to pay a vast amount to have this happen. More stuff seems to be appearing too to back this, but certainly, no more than supposition so far.

  14. This was about far more than Syria per se. It was a graphic message and warning to North Korea, Iran, China and Russia that when Trump speaks they’d best pay attention.

  15. “it’s not unreasonable that they might have tried a few intercepts just to get the live-fire experience”

    I was thinking that we could gain some valuable intelligence examining how their missiles worked on a live test. There was some question a few months ago about how operational the system was

    You would hope we could get something out of letting them take some cheap potshots at us, right?

  16. @Grurray,

    Spot on. The question for the war planner is not what weapons the enemy has but how effective they are. It is the consensus of most analysts that most intercepted telemetry is fake – errors are purposely inserted, then accounted for by the user.

    The most egregious error of recent times was when, in 2006, a Chinese attack submarine surfaced in sight of the an American aircraft carrier, USS Kitty Hawk. The media reported that the sub was undetected, and a major embarrassment for the Pentagon.

    Really? If the sub was, indeed, undetected then it exposed a vulnerability that the US could address. If it was detected then the Chinese could be lulled into a false sense of security.

    The sub commander was probably quite surprised when they took him out and shot him.

  17. An attack on Assad’s palaces would have made more sense to me. Messages are best sent by mail, or e-mail if you are Hillary.

    Lyndon Johnson spent years and 500,000 lives ending “messages” with bombs.

    Blowing up all his palaces would have made sense to me. Reagan did it to Gaddaffi.

  18. “An attack on Assad’s palaces would have made more sense to me.”

    Then they would have missed, by probably, the same out.

  19. Striking Assad seems objectively morally right, along the lines of the British taking out Lomboko. However, for better or worse, any serious action against him will have very little public support, and so is completely unsustainable.

    If Trump wants to do something that would be effective, right, and popular, he could give a press conference where he shows Nikki Haley’s speech, shows the Russian representative fiddling with his phone, and then announces that we are immediately withdrawing from the UN and evicting them from NYC, because it’s a wretched hive of scum and villainy and we want nothing more to do with it. Then start up the much talked about League of Democracies, and see what we can do with that.

  20. Trump enforced Obama’s red line. (Important not because it was Obama’s but because it was of the President of the United States.) The value of that goes beyond the Syria situation. The use of chemical weapons should be responded to, and without hesitation.

  21. “The use of chemical weapons should be responded to, and without hesitation.”

    I think a good argument can be made that a response is needed but I’m not sure this was it. Why not blow up Assad’s palaces ?

  22. “PenGun you are more and more a troll. No useful comments.”

    Oh Mike, do you not understand the strike largely missed it’s target? I was just pointing out Aasad’s place probably has similar EW in the area.

  23. In the Second Iraq war much fuss was made of the Israeli use of US Patriot missiles as defence against the SCUD missiles. If I remember correctly, it later transpired that the Patriots had made no kills: none.

    How many of the cruise missiles hit their targets may, I suppose, emerge over the years. For the moment I wouldn’t believe a word from the US or Russian military on the subject. Could the cruise missiles prove as inaccurate as the bombing of Serbia was? (Except, miraculously, the bomb that hit the Chinese Embassy.)

  24. The SCUD business was the First Gulf War–no Iraqi SCUDS were harmed by the Israelis during the making of the second Iraqi unpleasantness. Just a pedantic point….

  25. Regards air defense missile performance in Syria versus the Tomahawks — SAM’s have been under performing their marketing for 65 plus years because the world is not flat.

    See this tool and plug in 50 feet/15.4 Meters altitude for the Tomahawk and a 4-meter altitude for the defensing radar and see how close the T-hawk the search radar has to be to be detected.

    It works out to something like 21 KM.

    And for a SAM missile engagement both the search and missile fire control radars have to be within 21 KM of the Tomahawk for a full engagement cycle of detect, acquire, track, launch/engage, and hit.

    The USAF & USN have had mission planning software that pre-plans air routes through enemy radar coverage to minimize engagement times for going on 30-years.

    The Tomahawk strike planning software on the two Arlie Burke DDG had similar routing algorithms.

    At best Russian & Syrian SAM’s got 30-seconds continuously tracking the Tomahawk missiles out of the last five minutes before the missile strike started impacting.

    I am not saying that there were not Tomahawk missiles engaged and shot down.

    I am saying they were flying a time-on-target strike and the defense batteries got one very short engagement cycle to shoot at them.

  26. The Russians claim they have no idea what happened to the missing missiles. I usually believe them, not this time. ;)

    Oh info: I don’t believe anyone, but I do keep track of who lies to me. The Russians seldom do.

  27. “I don’t believe anyone, but I do keep track of who lies to me. The Russians seldom do.” That’s just an ordinarily sensible policy; keep the big lie up your sleeve in case you ever have to deploy it.

    Of the two it does seem to be the US that lies routinely, flagrantly, and absurdly – presumably on the grounds that its their own population they want to fool. Easy meat, apparently.

  28. Arm chair battle damage assessment based on Russian info about the performance of their defensive system? I’ve heard it all now. The Russians are usually truthful? So Putin forgot all those years of his disinformation training and operations? Sure.


  29. The attack in Syria is an attempt to distract attention from the many victims among the peaceful population of Iraq and Syria caused by unilateral actions,” Safronkov said before a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday.

    He forgot to mention we bombed the baby milk factory.

  30. Dearie, as for easy meat, Boris Johnson has been beating the drumbeat of regime change for months. He has exhibited a distressing fondness for Islamism, refusing to acknowledge the consequences of aiding terror groups like al Qaeda and Hamas. I had to quit following him on Twitter when he remorselessly admitted to orchestrating the UN resolution against Israeli settlements in the West Bank. He sounds more and more like Tony Blair every day. What good is Brexit if you’re just going to continue to follow European Internationalism to inevitable defeat and decline?

  31. Mike, the Germans actually knew long before that. A mid level German general staff officer wangled a plane ride to an invasion planning meeting in Western Germany from a Luftwaffe pal. The pilot got lost in foggy weather and was over Belgian territory when he ran out of fuel and crash landed. Both officers realized after they crashed they were not in Germany and the general staff officer tried to set fire to the invasion plans he was carrying. Police caught them before those papers could burn, arresting the wayward Germans and confiscated the papers, sending them on to the Belgian army staff who promptly panicked as this plan was a carbon copy of the Schlieffen plan used by the Germans in WW1 that devastated Belgium. Hitler upon hearing about this went into one of his patented fits and cancelled the operation for the time being and demanded a new plan. Guderian stepped forward with his concept of forcing armored troops through the Ardennes using the original Schlieffen plan as a cover to pull the allied armies into a trap, while the main force of the German army swung in behind them through the Ardennes.

    If the Duke did tell the Germans about them having their invasion plan, it just confirmed their new plan, which had been in planning for a few weeks already.

  32. It’s over. Kudos deep state. I did not think it would be so fast.

    So the same people who Hillary was the poster girl for now have Trump well in hand. Nothing has changed. He is so ignorant, you can probably tell him anything.

    The reason I did not like Hillary is, and this will unfold now, the possibility of WW3.

  33. ” Hitler upon hearing about this went into one of his patented fits ”

    I think the version I heard/read was that P of W learned of the event and told the Germans. The Belgians may not have told them the plans had been found.

  34. The Germans already knew the Belgians had the invasion plans, which is why Hitler insisted upon a new plan. I believe the two officers crashed in Belgium in November 1939, and the original plan had Germany invading in January 1940.

  35. The man epitomizes ignorance. He has no clue about almost everything. Because of this he has no idea how to deal with the military, and his solution is to let it do what it thinks best. This is extremely bad and will bring us closer to serious war quite quickly.

    As well his solution to business is about the same. I do want America to assume a more normal role in the world, but he will make that impossible.

    I dunno, Hillary would have at least used a leash.

  36. “The man epitomizes ignorance. ”

    Do you know how stupid this sounds ? Call me when you make your first billion.

  37. “Call me when you make your first billion.”

    Ignorance knows no boundaries. This man does not know anything that I can discern, outside of whatever business acumen he has developed.

  38. “I believe the two officers crashed in Belgium in November 1939, and the original plan had Germany invading in January 1940.”

    My point was that the Belgians may not have told the Germans they had the plans. The story was that the PoW learned of it from the British and told the Germans.

    I don’t know it is true. I have read other versions. I merely passed it on as a story that might explain the concern of the British that Edward could be a Quisling figure if Germany defeated the British or if Churchill was overthrown by the Tory government. John Lukacs’ book, “Five Days in May,” explains how close a call it was.

    Halifax was defeatist and might have asked Hitler for terms. Those terms might have included restoration of Edward.

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