Last week, under the unanimous support of military advisors and allied nations, our Commander-in-Chief launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles into one of Syria’s top military airbases. The Russians were notified 1 hour prior to the strike and the casualty toll was less than 10 people. The strike was intended as a slap on the wrist warning instead of a declaration of war. It was a retaliation of the confirmed reports that Assad used this airbase to launch chemical weapons upon innocent civilians. There is worldwide condemnation of the use of chemical weapons, but the missile strike has received a mix of criticism and praise.
A show of strength in this tactical fashion is President Trump’s way of telling the world that the US means business and to respect our authority as the leader of the free world. The empty threat of Obama’s red-line in Syria a few years back weakened our position of strength and left Trump with pressure to reestablish it. This was a message to Syria, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China that our new administration will not tolerate the use of WMDs. This military posturing will place pressure on Russia to stop playing games and make a deal with the US to stabilize the region by ending the proxy wars and prevent regime change. China sees that Trump’s talk about North Korea will be translated into action and not merely rhetoric if they do not reign in the unhinged despot Kim Jung Un.
The downside is that this action could trigger a war. It doesn’t seem probable currently but the missile strike certainly doesn’t help in this regard. We have placed Putin/Assad into a fight or flight scenario. Putin moved one of his naval destroyers into the area and withdrew from a deconfliction airspace agreement in response. This goes against Trump’s campaign rhetoric of not involving ourselves in direct military action in the Middle East at the risk of further destabilization. However, Trump stated that his view on dealing with Assad changed after the second chemical weapon attack. A red line is a red line.
Under the imperative condition that this was unequivocally a chemical attack by the Assad regime and not a false flag, I believe the good outweighs the bad in this specific situation. This situation will most likely not trigger war but rather facilitate a deal between Putin and Trump in a few months at most. North Korea remains the single greatest threat to world peace. China must step up to the plate and prevent further conflict.