President Trump took the most significant military action of his short presidency tonight with a barrage of Tomahawk missiles against the Syrian regime’s air forces in retribution for a recent sarin gas attack against civilians that killed 86 people and wounded hundreds more.
His impulsive show of force, however, wasn’t nearly as effective as he would have hoped it would be. ABC News reports that the Syrian military was aware that a strike was incoming and the missiles hit the mostly deserted al-Shayrat airbase in Homs province.
Early reports indicate that a Syrian soldier was killed, a dozen jets were damaged, and the runway sustained heavy damage – but otherwise, the Syrian regime’s ability to slaughter civilians from the skies has not been greatly hindered.
Trump has complained over and over about how President Obama’s Pentagon would tell the world when they were going to strike and promised he would never do such a foolish thing – and then did the exact same thing.
The Pentagon told the Russian military, which has a huge presence in government-controlled Syria, where the strike was going to be in order to prevent any Russian casualties.
The Russians obviously then told the regime the strikes where the strikes were going to hit, and Trump ended up spending $70 million dollars for a firework show.
“This attack on one air base seems more symbolic. I think Secretary of Defense [General] James Mattis gave the president a list of options, this being the smallest. It was a targeted attack not designed to overwhelm the Syrian military … I think the president was trying to differentiate himself from his predecessor” said former National Security Advisor Richard Clarke.
It was all a charade. Assad has launched nine gas attacks this year, all ignored by Trump. The attack on Khan Sheikhoun was the worst, but no more appalling than any of the other war crimes that the Syrian regime commits on a daily basis.
Trump’s own words reveal the true motive behind the strike:
President Trump’s poll numbers have been sinking for weeks, and tonight he was hosting Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. The strike was a primitive attempt to show the Chinese how strong he is and an attempt to show the nation that Trump is a decisive man of action.
His concern for the dead children of Syria was nothing but an elaborate ego boost. Trump is playing fast and loose with international conflict and putting us all in danger just to show off.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.