The Strikes Against Al Shayrat Air Base: Highly Detailed Security Theater With No Deterrent Effect

As night gave way to day we began to get greater clarity about exactly what happened with last night’s missile strikes against al Shayrat Air Base in Syria. It was security theater with no deterrent effect.

Davis also said that U.S. officials notified Russian forces in advance of the strike and took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.

Syrian military officials appeared to anticipate Thursday night’s raid on Syria‘s Shayrat air base, evacuating personnel and moving equipment ahead of the strike, according to an eyewitness.

Local residents say the Russian military had used the air base in early 2016 but have since withdrawn their officers, so the base is now mainly operated by Syrian and Iranianmilitary officers. There is also a hotel nearby where Iranian officers have been staying, though it was not clear whether it was damaged.

The eyewitness believes human casualties, at least within the civilian population, were minimal, as there was no traffic heading toward the local hospital.

Former National Security Adviser and ABC News contributor Richard Clarke said this attack, one of the quickest displays of force by a new president in recent history, is largely “symbolic.”

“This attack on one air base seems more symbolic,” Clarke said. “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.”

If the purpose of the attack was not to actually reduce and degrade Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile and Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons, then there really was no purpose in the strike. It served no deterrent effect. Everyone already knows the US has the capability of striking targets from over the horizon. Given the warnings the US gave Russia, which Russia appears to have passed on to its Syrian client allowing them to move personnel and equipment and minimize/mitigate operational losses, the strike had no actual or effective strategic purpose. It doesn’t deter the Syrians from doing anything – they already knew we could do this at any time. Also, providing all these warnings seems to completely bely the President’s oft stated preference for utilizing the element of surprise. There was no surprise in last night’s attacks.

Moreover, once again the Interagency process appears to have either broken down or been ignored.

What we instead have is the use of an over the horizon strike as security theater intended to bolster the Administration’s theme of the week, not actually and effectively deter the use of chemical weapons.

And this type of security theater has significant repercussions:

Just as I suspect the North Korean missile test on Tuesday was intended not just to intimidate North Korea’s neighbors, but to give Xi Jinping additional leverage in his summit with the President today, last night’s missile strikes were partially intended to reverse that dynamic. Unfortunately they’ve also given the Kremlin a new opportunity to pursue the Putin Doctrine of showing that liberal democracy, as exemplified by the US, is not any better than, and often is hypocritically worse, than any other form of government and governance.

Reuters reports that:

Russia wants an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss U.S. missile strikes on Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday, describing the action as “thoughtless”.

The ministry said in a statement that Russia was also suspending a Syrian air safety agreement with the United States, saying:

“This is not the first time the United States has resorted to such a thoughtless step, which merely exacerbates existing problems and threatens global security.”

Russia has dismissed Western accusations against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who Washington says was responsible for a chemical gas attack that left scores dead in the Syrian province of Idlib.

The foreign ministry said it was clear that the U.S. missile strikes were prepared before the Idlib incident.

The United States, and specifically the Trump Administration, is now going to experience having Russia try to use the UN Security Council to turn the tables over the strikes against the al Shayrat Air Base. Whoever thought that coordinating the strike with the Russians, in order to deconflict the airspace, minimize damage, and conduct a symbolic attack to demonstrate US resolve, the ability to project force (which no one doubted), and deter future attacks was a good idea just got played for a fool. Putin and the Russian government are going to use this to beat the US about the head and shoulders to achieve their own objectives in the Levant and within the global system.

128 replies
  1. 1
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Back later. You all have fun!

  2. 2
    matryoshka says:

    Well, it burned up 90 million taxpayer dollars, so there’s that.

  3. 3
    Yutsano says:

    Many officials at State Department today were completely out of the loop, as were key US allies, about imminent US strike

    Huh. Why was Trudeau all massively supportive this morning?

  4. 4
    charluckles says:

    I am paranoid, I admit. But the whole thing seems like a lot of staged BS to put “distance” between Trump and Russia and wag the dog. After the election, I made a point to pay closer attention to patterns of reporting on social media. And before Trump even launched his attack I was surprised at how social media was filled with news of, videos etc of the chemical gas attack.

  5. 5
    Timurid says:

    No deterrent effect? He deterred the MSM, Village and many Democrats from talking about the whole Russia thing, maybe for the foreseeable future, so… 10/10, ★★★★★, Would launch again.

  6. 6

    He did it because Obama didn’t.

    That’s all there is to it.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    Spanky says:

    @charluckles: I think it’s important to note that the facts about Missile Theatre are emerging in less than 24 hours.

    (But part of me is really regretting selling the RTN stock when I rolled my 401k.)

  9. 9
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Will Vernon @ BBCWillVernon
    The Kremlin was asked whether it’s true that the Russian anti-missile systems were switched off for the attack: “No comment”

    plus this

    VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb, citing an unnamed U.S. military official, said the airfield’s runway was deliberately not targeted so Russian military efforts would not be effected.
    The official also told Babb the Tomahawk cruise missiles used in the raid were precision, and not cratering, to minimize damage.
    Carla Babb ✔ @CarlaBabbVOA
    #Syriastrikes didn’t target runway as to not effect Russians, says US military official, & Tomahawk type used was precision, not cratering

    is the notion that this was highly coordinated with Russia– that maybe even Trump and Mattis got fucking played– breaking through at all with our breathless war-mongering liberal media? Or are they all still all horny from the pictures of the those powerful, powerful missiles surging forth to deliver justice to evil-doers ?

  10. 10
    randy khan says:

    Probably Syria left a couple of old planes that were about to be junked at the base just so there’d be debris.

  11. 11

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I am not too impressed by the brass in T cabinet. I didn’t get all that gushing about the Mad Dog. Whatever.

  12. 12
    trollhattan says:

    @matryoshka:
    Raytheon employees and shareholders have a collective spring in their step today. What a great Friday for them!

    Thanks, Adam, for the post. Farley also has first thoughts posted at LGM.

  13. 13
    hovercraft says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Whoever thought that coordinating the strike with the Russians, in order to deconflict the airspace, minimize damage, and conduct a symbolic attack to demonstrate US resolve, the ability to project force (which no one doubted), and deter future attacks was a good idea just got played for a fool. Putin and the Russian government are going to use this to beat the US about the head and shoulders to achieve their own objectives in the Levant and within the global system.

    This is shocking!! :- 0
    Twitler told me that relations with Russia would improve and help us fight ISIS!
    Putin has his own priorities? Just so shocking.

  14. 14

    @schrodingers_cat: I’ve thought Mattis was an untrustworthy charlatan since he agreed to work for Trump. Everything Trump touches to turn to shit, and if you decide to work with him, you turn to shit too.

  15. 15
    trollhattan says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    Mad Dog had the singular distinction of not being a Trump family member, known nazi/KKK sympathizer, Goldman-Sachs pillow dweller. That’s all it takes these days to become a good guy. I’m sure he knows his stuff, being a lifelong student of things military, but what’s his level of influence. At the end of the day he still has to do what he’s told (by Jared).

  16. 16
    chopper says:

    don’t tell me the media’s war-boner over all those big beautiful cruise missiles is already going soft. what a shanda that would be.

  17. 17
    amk says:

    @matryoshka: And some few kids. You know, the ones you were supposed to ‘protect’ ?

  18. 18
    hovercraft says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    A Twitler supporter told me that this show of strength was necessary because for far too long we’ve been weak. We destroyed 22 war planes and sent the message that you can’t just kill civilians at will. I chose not to ask about killing civilians in Yemen and other places that have been blessed with visitations from American weapons. And he touted the brilliant speech Nikki Haley just gave at the UN, which according to him was tough and so well received that she received texts and tweets from over 100 other delegations thanking her and America for finally leading again. I did not engage, what’s the point. Sigh.

  19. 19
    Citizen_X says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Maybe next time, they’ll take a hint from Catch 22, and contract with Syria to have them bomb their own runway.

  20. 20
    trollhattan says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:
    It sounds like a $90M fireworks show–perhaps a semiquincentennial preview?

  21. 21
    Chris says:

    @trollhattan:

    Mad Dog had the singular distinction of not being a Trump family member, known nazi/KKK sympathizer, Goldman-Sachs pillow dweller. That’s all it takes these days to become a good guy.

    This. Or to put it another way, he was the one and only member of Trump’s cabinet that I actually thought was qualified for the job. That doesn’t mean I was gushing over him, or that I was always going to agree with him, or whatever, and I don’t think most other people were either. But having at least one of these in the cabinet seemed like a good thing.

    (There was another reason for me: he was known to be an anti-Syria/Iran hardliner, which on the global scale, also translates to being anti-Russia. I thought one of these guys would be a welcome to Trump and most of his associates’ adoration for Putin. Doubly so when it came out that despite not being an Iran fan, Mattis supported the nuclear treaty staying in place – i.e. a hardliner, but not an idiot).

  22. 22

    @trollhattan: What about Kelly? T chose his head of the Cossacks well.

  23. 23
    hovercraft says:

    @chopper:
    This is Twitlers problem, we have war fatigue. They will be excited for a couple of days if that, but the Russia stuff’s not going away. @trollhattan: Media are like kids, they were impressed by the fireworks, now that it’s clean up time, not so much.

  24. 24
    D58826 says:

    You would think that after
    1. Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos (for those old enough to remember)
    2. Desert 1/Iranian hostage crisis
    3 St Ronulus the Unready vs. Libya
    4. the Balkans
    5. Somolia
    6. Afghanistan
    7. Iraq and
    8. Libya – the sequel
    9. how could I forget Yemen
    that the talking heads and VSP’s would be a little bit skeptical of American military involvement.

    Even if the attack last night had a serious purpose, people should be asking hard questions not waxing poetical about the beauty of our weapons.

  25. 25
    John Revolta says:

    90 million dollars makes for some mighty pricey theater. They coulda got Michael Bay to do it for a lot less.

    Seriously, 59 Tomahawks? They couldn’t shoot 10, or 20, and get the same nonresults? What the fucking fuck.

  26. 26
    JMG says:

    The Washington elite media loves war because it allows them to think they’re at the center of power of a great empire, and therefore important people. The grubby work of reporting on “partisan” politics is beneath their beautiful minds.

  27. 27

    @D58826: They are not skeptical because it hasn’t touched their lives.

  28. 28
    danielx says:

    Pray, sir, what sort of dog is that, being wagged by the tail?

  29. 29
    dexwood says:

    So, Traitor Trump who ranted about President Obama telegraphing plans to the enemy did what now? Warned the Russians directly and the Syrians indirectly through the Russians? Imagine that. I guess it really is ok if you’re a Republican.

  30. 30
    🚧eric says:

    @John Revolta: when playing video games, you only do that when you have auto-refill selected…

  31. 31
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    from an (IIRC) Iraq (and general) hawk and former soldier in the IDF

    Jeffrey Goldberg‏Verified account @ JeffreyGoldberg 3h3 hours ago
    Launching missiles doesn’t make a president presidential. Having a plan to deal with the consequences of your actions gets you closer.

  32. 32
    chopper says:

    Many officials at State Department today were completely out of the loop, as were key US allies, about imminent US strike.

    but of course we told russia. just letting all those guys at state and NSC know exactly where they stand on trump’s list.

  33. 33
    🚧eric says:

    @chopper: i am assuming that if we told russia, then the fbi knew ;)

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    “Think triangulation: Syria–China–North Korea,” one White House official told me this morning.

    I remember the last time a Republican administration tried to triangulate North Korea with Iran and Iraq by declaring them an “axis of evil.”

    Remind me, how did that turn out, again?

  35. 35
    amk says:

    @D58826: And in most of them, murkkka was for them before they were against them.

    For once, I agree with hayes.

  36. 36
    D58826 says:

    another dose of cold water

    Nor do one-off attacks like the one we launched have a good track record. In a civil war that has claimed so many dead, the military impact of a missile strike on one facility is limited, even if it signals a profound shift in U.S. policy. Rather, such actions often are painted as “symbolic,” but in reality they usually signal weakness, not resolve. The dictator or terrorist on the receiving end suffers little but often looks stronger because they survived a U.S. attack and can boast about their defiance. In 1998, after Al Qaeda bombed two U.S. embassies in Africa, the United States launched cruise missiles against facilities believed to be linked to terrorists in Afghanistan and Sudan—Operation Infinite Reach. The strikes backfired, allowing Bin Laden to claim he was standing up to the United States. His popular support and associated ability to recruit soared, and Al Qaeda terrorism continued undiminished. Contrast this with the sustained drone campaign against Al Qaeda that began under President George W. Bush in the years after 9/11 and took off under Obama. This devastated Al Qaeda, but it required years and many many strikes.

    and

    I also worry that the about-face against the Asad regime is not coordinated diplomatically. We are acting in haste, without making sure that our use of force is serving our political strategy rather than determining it. It is not clear what we are asking Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other potential partners to do differently or how we are trying to get Asad’s backers, particularly Russia (Iran is a lost cause on this) to decrease their support for the regime. Indeed, directly or indirectly we may be risking a military conflict with Russia, and even if the Trump administration wants to confront Moscow over Syria, such an escalation demands careful thought, coordination, and planning. Most important, it is unclear what political settlement the United States wants in Syria and which actors Washington wants to empower—we know what we don’t want, but it is less clear what we do want.

    from By Daniel Byman at lawfare. There is a good bit more andworth the read.
    https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-effect-will-trumps-airstrikes-really-have

  37. 37

    The screenshot from that Tommy Vietor tweet is gobsmacking. “Leadership Week”?? “Proud of his decision”????

  38. 38
    ruemara says:

    Our media is so stupid & so played.

  39. 39
    BruceJ says:

    Not just security theatre, follow the money. Bet Trump proclaims he’s ‘providing good jerbs for the Merkins!!!’

  40. 40
    Mike J says:

    Allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment. Yes, the strikes served no military purpose, and yes, everybody knew the US had the capabilities before the strike. What people didn’t know was that the US would use it. Trump had bent over backwards to tell Assad that the US didn’t care what he did. Trump reset things to the Obama status quo, although without the non-military pressure to end the fighting. Chemical weapons were off the menu until trump green-lit their use.

    Had Clinton won, there would have never been a chemical weapon attack. We would have continued on the Obama path. Diplomatic pressure while Assad continued to murder his citizens, but no use of chemical weapons. We would have taken in a few more refugees.

    In short, Clinton would have been much better. This attack happened because of Trump’s weakness. Any time you use the military it means you’ve already fucked something up. However, in this case, a pointless exercise of military force was probably the only proper call. Think about how much worse this would be if the force hadn’t been toothless.

  41. 41
    El Caganer says:

    So the US waged aggressive warfare, which is a war crime, as punishment for an alleged use of chemical weapons concerning which there has been no independent corroboration? There appears to be some evidence that people were killed with chemical weapons, but it sure as shit isn’t clear who did it. The Syrian government (winning militarily, going to a peace conference in a couple of days) would have zero incentive to do this. If you wanted to blow up the process and start that sweet money train going back to the jihadis, though, a bogus attack (well – not bogus, al-Qaeda has chemical weapons too) might be just the ticket.

    So….what have we gained? We have just managed to castrate our own anti-terrorist efforts in Iraq and Syria (the Russians have indicated that they’re not going to be coordinating with us, which means that US aircraft in Syrian airspace are there illegally and may be – will be – shot down). Good job!

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @D58826:

    Trump and the people around him think that diplomacy is pointless. They’ve said this multiple times. They think that every problem we have with a foreign country not only can be solved with military force, but should be solved that way.

    Thanks, idiot isolationists who convinced themselves that Trump would be less likely to start a war than Hillary. You did a heckuva job with that pick. We’re not even at the 100 day mark yet.

  43. 43
    chopper says:

    so we’re officially and unilaterally inserting ourselves into somebody else’s civil war without even an attempt at congressional authorization or anything. it takes a special kind of stupid to let russia of all countries shame you regarding respect for international law. luckily for us we have just that special kind of stupid in the white house.

  44. 44
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    just like Benghazi! was worse than 9/11, so too the thrusting surge of missiles of justice is way more bolder and courageouser and resoluter than the bin Laden raid

    ETA: i thought for a moment it was a mistake to invite comparison, but then I remembered who the audience is: Brian Williams and John McCain

    @Mnemosyne: soft power = limp dick. They all but say it out loud.

  45. 45
    JGabriel says:

    The Hill via Adam Silverman @ Top:

    Trump gave Russia heads up before military strike on Syria

    Christina Wilkie, also via Adam @ Top:

    NSC [National Security Council] staffers were also kept out of the loop until after it had happened, per sources.

    Seriously? Trump literally put Russia before National Security?

    Jeepers.

  46. 46
    Brachiator says:

    As night gave way to day we began to get greater clarity about exactly what happened with last night’s missile strikes against al Shayrat Air Base in Syria. It was security theater with no deterrent effect.

    But, but … 59 missiles and all but one of them hit their target.

    There was a BBC news report that the Russians were rapidly doing repairs. This made me wonder how much damage was actually done. And why the US didn’t have any problems with the Russians returning to help the Syrians.

    Thanks for the analysis, Adam

  47. 47
  48. 48
    Yarrow says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I’ve thought Mattis was an untrustworthy charlatan since he agreed to work for Trump. Everything Trump touches to turn to shit, and if you decide to work with him, you turn to shit too.

    Yes. This. Exactly. It’s been clear since forever that Trump ruins everything. You work with him, he’ll destroy you.

    Further to my “Trump will throw everyone under the bush, with the possible exception of Ivanka, before he leaves/get thrown out of office” theory, if this decision to bomb Syria boomerangs back on Trump he’ll blame it on Mattis and get rid of him for show.

  49. 49
    JMG says:

    Agence France-Presse reporting that sources say the airport is back in operation already. Score one for Mr. Silverman’s analysis.

  50. 50
    hovercraft says:

    @ruemara:

    Case in point.

    Syria just changed Donald Trump’s presidency

    Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

    The tittle of the “analysis” says it all. No it didn’t you fucking asshole!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mike J:

    Trump backed himself into a corner, and now he wants praise for doing the only thing that his own stupid choices led to.

    He’s like the guy who proudly shows off the breathalyzer installed in the dashboard of his car.

  52. 52
    D58826 says:

    @BruceJ: well somebody has to build 59 new Tomahawk missiles.

  53. 53
    ruemara says:

    @hovercraft: Cillizza. Too stupid to breathe.

  54. 54

    @ruemara: They are the propaganda arm of the Rich People’s Party, that exactly what I expect from them.

  55. 55
    Mike J says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yes, exactly. I don’t want anybody to think I’m defending Trump. I believe the fuckup wasn’t in the bombing, but in what came before it.

  56. 56
    amk says:

    (THREAD) The evidence that Trump's completely ineffectual military strike on Syria was just an empty political gesture is now overwhelming. pic.twitter.com/hI6sBgIQX1— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) April 7, 2017

    lotsa tweets under that. guess twitter has become the realm of FP now a days.

  57. 57
    trollhattan says:

    TwoThree morons chime in. These guys, for starters.

    Alex Jones and Roger Stone blamed “President” Jared Kushner for the Syrian airstrike ordered by his father-in-law, Donald Trump. The InfoWars founder hosted the political dirty trickster — who’s under investigation for possible ties to Russian intelligence — on his program Friday to discuss the military action. The conversation followed a conspiratorial trail that led from Syria through the West Wing to the Upper West Side, and all the way to Silicon Valley, and fell apart when Jones blamed Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, for every bad decision made so far by the president.

    “It’s them, it’s them — it’s his daughter and son-in-law who are literally enemies of the Republic!” Jones shouted.

    “I can absolutely certify that Steve Bannon was opposed to this intervention in Syria, and he obviously lost an internal argument,” Stone claimed. He said the White House blamed the chief strategist for the failures of the travel ban and the health care bill, which Stone claims was written by former House Speaker John Boehner and foisted on Bannon by Kushner.

    And, because he can’t shut his moron yap.

    ormer U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) does not believe that Syria’s Pres. Bashir al Assad launched a chemical weapons attack on a rebel held village on Tuesday. On his “Ron Paul Liberty Report” broadcast on Wednesday, the Libertarian-leaning Republican proclaimed that the chemical weapon attack on Tuesday was a “false flag” operation designed to smear Assad and involve the world in a global war.

    Shut the fvck up, Ronny, you’re out of your depth.

    The village has lost the script.

  58. 58
    Miss Bianca says:

    I can’t believe how friends of mine on the Book of Faces are saying they are “conflicted” about it – like, “yeah, I hate Trump and all, but gee, I dunno, chemical weapons are BAD, right, so I don’t know what to think.”

    I linked to this post. Basically to say, “gee, think it thru’, guys…if everything Trump touches turns to shit, if everything he does is all for show, in what possible alternate universe can you think for a second that this is ANYTHING but fucked up?”

  59. 59
    trollhattan says:

    @JGabriel:
    Funnily enough, Trump would be in more trouble if he tweeted “Buy Raytheon” to friends last evening. Ask Martha Stewart.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    $100 million shot to hell.

    Must be nice. Wish I could do that in the space of a few hours.

    Meanwhile, massive cuts to agencies that do not give Donald a soft on when they do their jobs.

  61. 61
    joel hanes says:

    there really was no purpose in the strike.

    Nonsense. It diverted the media’s attention from the crimes, internal dysfunction, and failures of the Trump Misadministration,
    and from the Senate shenanigans that gave us Gorsuch. A twofer.

  62. 62
    StringOnAStick says:

    I am finding the Russian response interesting, as in it seems they are scaling it in response to how our media responds to their comments and if it looks like Putin is pissed enough at Drumph. The first Russian responses were middling angry, and the latest is full-on angry. It looks like kabuki to me to distract from the Putin/Drumpf campaign (and worse) coordination, and they scaled it up because the first response didn’t play as pissed off enough. Drumpf’s dick stumble telling Syria that we weren’t going to do anything that pushed Assad out led to the chemical attack (government or rebel or ISIL, it doesn’t really matter) since someone saw the opening and took it, and it oh so cleverly gave Drumpf the opening he needed to shoot some expensive rockets, leave the airstrip entirely intact (with Russian agreement no doubt), and he thinks he looks like Mr. Manly Man in time for the Chinese premier’s visit.

    Given that the Middle East and China are known for having hundreds of years of history of incredibly complex political maneuvering and infighting, I am sure China’s government is laughing even louder as Xi is treated to 24 hours of Drumpf looking like the cat who just caught the canary, plus Putin thinks he may have just gotten some cover and as Adam said, now he can point and laugh at democracy in the UNSC. People in the grips of great pride are even easier to manipulate and Drumpf is on an even bigger ego high now than usual, so Xi’s loving that. Putin is hoping this distracts the US press from his meddling here and elsewhere, and hey, on top of it all the price of oil went up, so win win for Russia!

    What this means is we need to push even harder on the Russia investigations, and not let it escape the public eye while the MSM gets over their collective wargasm. Shiny object theory can work in our favor too. In other words: yep, pure security theatre.

  63. 63

    @JGabriel: You report to your boss, not your colleagues or sub-ordinates.

  64. 64
    gvg says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Actually the media has pointed out how much like the Obama watching the Bin Laden raid looks like Trumps advisors watching this one. I think Trump had Obama envy. the Trump aids don’t look worried tired or stressed like the Obama administration did so they had no idea how much could have gone wrong right then as opposed to later as their story unravels.
    the media started by being all impressed and forgetting the Russia investigation stories. it’s already coming out though that Trump told Russia and not state and Russia told syria, which I don’t think is going to look good for Trump.

  65. 65
    trollhattan says:

    @joel hanes: Ironically, on a slower news day Trump would be Tweeting the hell out of the Stockholm truck attack, which was infinitely worse than Bowling Green.

  66. 66
    D58826 says:

    @trollhattan: well it is kinda nice watching the piranha turn on one another.

  67. 67

    @gvg: He did that botched raid because Obama wouldn’t and he had Obama envy. They’re not mutually exclusive.

  68. 68
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    It was security theater with no deterrent effect.

    Right… a very loud and expensive distraction for TrumpCo and not much else…

    Pay no attention to that weasel behind the curtain!

    Meanwhile, it appears Jenn Rubin has decided to become a REAL journalist*…

    * link goes to WaPo…

  69. 69

    Trump has convinced me he’s incompetent. Whatever the chatter is today, he’ll be out there soon being an obvious idiot.

  70. 70
    hovercraft says:

    @joel hanes:

    It diverted the media’s attention from the crimes, internal dysfunction, and failures of the Trump Misadministration,
    and from the Senate shenanigans that gave us Gorsuch. A twofer.

    But it also pissed off part of his base, they can’t keep up with his gyrations.

    Diehard Trump Fans Revolt Over Syria Missile Strikes

    I mean even Ann Coulter is pissed

    Ann Coulter

    @AnnCoulter

    Trump campaigned on not getting involved in Mideast. Said it always helps our enemies & creates more refugees. Then he saw a picture on TV.
    2:25 AM – 7 Apr 2017

    3,214 3,214 Retweets
    6,663

    But it did give others a real stiffy

    Bill Mitchell

    @mitchellvii

    Donald Trump just obliterated Obama’s 8 year p*ssification of America in one bold stroke.
    10:43 AM – 7 Apr 2017

    548 548 Retweets
    1,410

    So maybe it’s a win?

    I bet his numbers perk up over the next couple of days, maybe he’ll shoot up all the way to what 45%.
    WINNING Bigly!!

  71. 71
    Feebog says:

    The question is whether the MSM will figure out they have been played and start reporting what little damage 59 Tommyhawk missiles actually did. If the Russians are repairing the damage and the air base is functioning again in a few days, what was the point?

  72. 72
    gvg says:

    @hovercraft: We really really do have war fatigue. It’s not mentioned in analysis generally but it’s present. It was a factor for some fools to thin Trump was better than Hillary even though they shouldn’t have been fooled because he did talk against some wars. The thing is, he is pretty violent in all his wording. Tough guy over talk. I knew he would find reasons to shoot. Stupid reasons with no idea how to plan.

    I am so tired of wars.

  73. 73
    hovercraft says:

    @gvg:
    Obama lives in his head, almost everything he does is to try and show that he’s better than Obama, problem is he’s not, so the shit keeps blowing up in his face.

  74. 74
    gratuitous says:

    If you’re going to notify anyone before launching a military attack, it stands to reason that you notify your allies. The Trump administration notified the Russians and the Syrians, and kept the National Security Council and the State Department in the dark.

    The conclusion is damn near inescapable.

  75. 75
    JGabriel says:

    @amk:

    lotsa tweets under that. guess twitter has become the realm of FP now a days.

    It’s the only thing everyone knows Trump reads.

  76. 76
    clay says:

    So… just to make sure I understand everything, because I’m slow like that:

    We gave Russia (and therefore Syria) enough notice about the bombing to remove equipment and personnel. And we intentional targeted the missiles so that they would NOT cause major infrastructure damage, so that we wouldn’t tread on Russia’s toes. Meanwhile, Russia might have turned off their defenses to allow it all to happen without incident.

    As a reward for our deference, Russia has announced that they will use our attack to strengthen Syria’s armed forces, and are going to bludgeon us in the United Nations.

    Huh.

    I wonder what Trump will think about “working with Putin to go after ISIS” now?

  77. 77
    amk says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    $100 million shot to hell.

    In one day.

    At that price, they could have given asylum to hundreds, if not thousands, of syrian refugees and earned some goodwill.

  78. 78

    We’re right back to killing people for purposes of political propaganda. One wonders if perhaps Kissinger had a hand in this.

    In any event, this is terrorism and deserves censure and more.

  79. 79
    lollipopguild says:

    Every week is “Leadership Week” when you are the President. If you want to attack North Korea attack North Korea. Just do not tell the Russians ahead of time.

  80. 80
    ET says:

    That was an expensive security theater in terms of money and long term PR strategy lost. You spend lots of money on those missiles and then, because you warned the Russians they warned the very people you were going to attack so you get played and loose in the PR war (which is what those attacks were supposed to buttress). Wonder who the decisions makers were in this room and who thought of what.

  81. 81
    zach says:

    @El Caganer: If you want to get really worked up, go check out the 2002 intelligence assessment re: Iraqi WMD. The certainty of the intelligence community that Iraq had stores of chemical and biological weapons and active programs to manufacture more is higher than any assessment I’ve seen of Syrian military responsibility for chemical attacks. I learned not to trust intelligence assessments when they’re filtered through a political lust for war 15 years ago. Zero trust in what Tillerson, Mattis, and McMaster are saying now. Give us (and the world) enough evidence so we can make our own judgements; if you don’t have enough evidence for that than you don’t have enough to act unilaterally.

    Lots of folks are blinded by their desire to see intervention in the civil war and humanitarian crisis. I want that, too. But there should be a VERY high standard for proof in attributing chemical/bio attacks to governments and a MUCH more severe response than this nonsense when we’re certain that’s what happened.

    Instead we’ve implicitly promised everyone who’s not Assad that we’ll unilaterally strike Syrian military targets in response to a claimed chemical attack before all the evidence is in. Not all of those people are allied with each other, to say the least, and some of them have chemical weapons and have used them. That calculus doesn’t end well.

  82. 82
    gvg says:

    Putin and the Russian government are going to use this to beat the US about the head and shoulders to achieve their own objectives in the Levant and within the global system.

    I think we including the media have a kind of American privilege where we never realize that our government will check on if some action is legal before it acts. It did not occur to our media to check that when the Trump administration announced the attack. We aren’t used to asking is that ok with the UN or international law and will our allies agree and support us. the Bush administration asked about torture and then built a kind of defense for what they claimed wasn’t torture and when it came out, they had some defense even though it didn’t fool everyone. They also tried to get UN cover for Iraq. trump didn’t even know to ask.

  83. 83
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Feebog:

    If the Russians are repairing the damage and the air base is functioning again in a few days, what was the point?

    What was the point?

    It was to give Fox News a reason to shout…

    Look! Over there! Something shiny exploding!

  84. 84
    amk says:

    JUST IN: Syrian warplanes take off from air base hit by U.S., carry out strikes in Homs countryside – Syrian observatory for human rights— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 7, 2017

    Mission Accomplished !!!

  85. 85
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @amk:

    At that price, they could have given asylum to hundreds, if not thousands, of syrian refugees and earned some goodwill.

    And just think how much Trump could justify billing the govt if he started putting them up at Mar A Lago…

  86. 86
    amk says:

    mad dog = the voice of reason.

    yeah, right.

  87. 87
    zach says:

    @gvg: Trump folks might look less stressed out because half of the people in the picture have no stake in the attack and were presumably the only people in mar-a-lago with high enough security clearances who happened to be in town for the china meet and could fill seats. Although maybe the commerce secretary is planning a special stamp series for cruise missiles given how beautiful they are.

  88. 88
    Lee says:

    The sad thing is no one is going to be surprised by this.

    It will be ‘meh what do expect, it’s Trump’

  89. 89
    clay says:

    Bill Mitchell

    @mitchellvii

    Donald Trump just obliterated Obama’s 8 year p*ssification of America in one bold stroke.
    10:43 AM – 7 Apr 2017

    548 548 Retweets
    1,410

    Jiminy H. Christmas. I don’t know who Bill Mitchell is, but do these people think that Obama didn’t bomb anyone in his eight years? That one ineffectual missile volley is somehow so virile, but burying bin Laden at sea wasn’t.

    Shit, Trump did the military equivalent of shooting his load on the sheets. No penetration.

  90. 90
    hovercraft says:

    Obama’s Legacy Impacts the Battle Between Pragmatism and the Ideologues
    by Nancy LeTourneau
    April 7, 2017 2:48 PM

    Over the last couple of days, we’ve been hearing a lot about the battles that are going on inside the Trump White House. I suspect that a lot of that is being driven by individual egos playing power games for dominance (something Trump seems to relish). But there are policy issues at play as well.

    Since the beginning of this administration, I’ve been keeping an eye on the battle between pragmatism and the ideologues. The president himself is incapable of pragmatism. He doesn’t care what works because his only concern is what creates the impression of a “win” for him personally. That is why the praise that is being heaped on him today about the military strikes in Syria could be dangerous. If it makes Trump feel like a winner — he will be inclined to repeat it.

    The way this particular battle is surfacing is more about the the others who have an impact on policy. Within those ranks are the true ideologues, the inexperienced and the pragmatists (or those who want to appear to be pragmatic).

    The ideologues came out of the gates swinging with things like the travel ban. But soon all the attention turned to repealing Obamacare. Among those involved were the ideologues who simply wanted to repeal the law and be done with it. The kind of pragmatism that kept Republicans from taking that action is the one where they needed to pretend to care about what would work to provide access and affordability in order to minimize the political consequences. That led to talk about a “repeal and delay” strategy. When that didn’t fly, they needed to come up with an actual replacement. As a result, we saw Obamacare Lite, that actually embraced the structure of ACA without any of the benefits. CBO blew a whole right through that one.

    As people like Paul Krugman and Michael Grunwald have pointed out, we’re now witnessing something similar as work begins on another one of Trump’s promises — to re-negotiate NAFTA. What we are watching unfold is a process that mirrors what Obama tried to accomplish with TPP. It is not likely to work because the concessions Mexico and Canada were willing to make in TPP were predicated on an opening to the markets in Asia – which won’t be players in updating NAFTA. But the Trump administration has gone so far as to bring in one of the principal TPP negotiators to work on it – which has incited the rage of the ideologues at Breitbart.* [ Politico, not Batshit]

    Earlier today I noted that there are those in the Trump administration who are now proposing a strategy in Syria that duplicates exactly what the Obama administration was attempting to do. That isn’t because Rex Tillerson decided that he would simply mirror what his successor John Kerry was working on. It has more to do with the fact that any pragmatic approach to Syria is limited. In other words, it is a thorny problem with no easy answers. It’s clear that both Obama and Kerry struggled with that — and came up with an imperfect plan that is the best possible approach.

    Even the ideologically oriented climate denier Scott Pruitt had to back down on challenging the basis for Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the Endangerment Rule, which declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases constitute a threat to human health and welfare. He knew that the science backs up the rule and that he would have almost no chance of getting it overturned in the courts. But without that, he will face countless legal battles in re-writing the Clean Power Plan.

    These are some of the areas where Barack Obama’s embrace of pragmatism will play a role in protecting his legacy. Throughout his two terms I argued that, rather than try to place our 44th president on a left/right continuum, he was better described as a pragmatic progressive. Much more important to him than staking claim to an ideological position, he was interested in finding solutions that were politically feasible and would work. We’re now witnessing why that was important.

    In the areas where the Trump administration doesn’t have to directly challenge science in the courts, engage in negotiations with other countries, or face a huge backlash from the American public, the ideologues are more likely to prevail. So while the resistance is doing what it can to fight back against the ICE deportation force and people of color will speak up against efforts to suppress voting rights and halt police reforms, unless a broad spectrum of white liberals join those efforts, I agree with Jonathan — the ideologues will prevail to hand Trump his most dangerous accomplishments.

  91. 91
    Roger Moore says:

    @John Revolta:

    They coulda got Michael Bay to do it for a lot less.

    I don’t think so. You’ve lucky if Michael Bay can bring your movie in for under $150 million.

  92. 92

    @trollhattan:

    which was infinitely worse than Bowling Green.

    Nothing is worse that Bowling Green; Oh the humanity!

  93. 93
    hovercraft says:

    @clay:

    I wonder what Trump will think about “working with Putin to go after ISIS” now?

    He thinks he got a big WIN, that’s all he cares about. He’s not a strategic thinker, he wants good pres, and since villagers love tough gestures no matter how empty, he is happy. Hence this being Leadership Day or Week. He’s a very happy man right now.

  94. 94
    chopper says:

    @clay:

    do these people have any clue the amount of ordinance obama had dropped on parts of the mideast during his two terms?

  95. 95
    Oatler. says:

    “Get off the runway, Yossarian! This is an M & M Enterprises operation.”

  96. 96
    hovercraft says:

    @chopper:
    No, and if they did, they wouldn’t care. Those bombs were just to throw us off, these were real serious which is why they did so much damage.

  97. 97
    Mike in NC says:

    Trump’s specialty is to engage in flashy but ultimately meaningless theatrics, which our worthless media has yet to grasp.

  98. 98
    zach says:

    @clay:

    Jiminy H. Christmas. I don’t know who Bill Mitchell is, but do these people think that Obama didn’t bomb anyone in his eight years? That one ineffectual missile volley is somehow so virile, but burying bin Laden at sea wasn’t.

    Shit, Trump did the military equivalent of shooting his load on the sheets. No penetration.

    Obama’s response to Syrian chemical weapons in 2013 also led to the destruction of hundreds of tons of chemical weapons, a couple dozen production facilities, and 3.5 years of no sarin use or any chemical attacks attributed to Syrian army… the jury’s still out on whether blowing up some broken planes will be more effective than diplomacy, but admittedly it looked prettier than dumping poison at sea.

  99. 99
    trollhattan says:

    @Roger Moore:
    True, but Trump sure as hell isn’t giving us Megan Fox in Spandex, either. We’ve been cheated!

  100. 100
    Mike J says:

    @chopper:

    do these people have any clue the amount of ordinance obama had dropped on parts of the mideast during his two terms?

    One could argue that the military actions Obama authorized had a military objective greater than their PR value. The Iraqi government has made great strides in fighting ISIL with backup form the US.

  101. 101
    clay says:

    @hovercraft: Yeah, I know. I wasn’t really wondering. Goddamn, we’re in a real shit storm, aren’t we?

  102. 102
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Well, we’ll soon find out, because after Benghazi, I’m sure Michael Bay will be happy to make an action movie out of this bombing run. We’ll see if that one costs more than the actual bombing run.

  103. 103
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @joel hanes: I can multitask. I’m not distracted. Then again, unlike Donald, I have military training that informs me about obvious feints.

  104. 104

    If what you say is true, then the optimum number of missiles would have been one. Each additional missile made us look more wasteful and therefore foolish.

  105. 105
    The Moar You Know says:

    I am so tired of wars.

    @gvg: I was born in 1966. The US has been at war for over half my life.

    I think for the Boomers, the total might even be higher.

    For the Millennials, it’s been all their lives.

    I’d like to see an end to that.

  106. 106
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    I would also point out what MikeJ is saying — we’re only in this position because Trump fucked up the diplomacy. If he hadn’t, the chemical weapons wouldn’t have been used in the first place.

  107. 107
    Dev Null says:

    I yield to no one in my loathing for T.coli, but I don’t understand what seems to be an implicit assumption that the Pentagon should not have notified Russia.

    It seems to me that there are two compelling reasons for notification: 1) AFAIK the deconfliction agreement requires notification; and 2) do we really want to kill Russians?

    REALLY?!?

    I could be mis-remembering, but I seem to recall that the US and Soviet Union went to considerable trouble to minimize the probability that American military personnel would kill Soviet military personnel and vice versa. Death by proxy, OK … but not direct US-Soviet kinetic action.

    Sounds MAD, I know, but mumble mumble nukes. Escalation, that sort of thing.

    What am I missing?

  108. 108
    Lee says:

    @Dev Null: I don’t think the argument is that we should not have notified Russia, but that because we notified Russia (and therefore Assad) the ‘attack’ was nothing but a very expensive fireworks display and nothing even close to what the press & his supporters are making it into.

  109. 109
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @trollhattan: That looks about right.

  110. 110
    Dev Null says:

    I don’t seem to be able to edit #107 even though the clock is ticking, so putting this in a new comment:

    Call me a wimp, but I was damn’ glad the Pentagon notified their Russian counterparts.

    Happy to be educated by those more knowledgeable …

  111. 111
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Actually Goldberg served as a prison guard in an Israeli prison housing Palestinians convicted of committing acts of terrorism.

  112. 112
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @clay: Bill Mitchell is a dipshit wingnut radio “personality”. Fuck him and the horse he was dragged in on.

  113. 113
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @trollhattan:

    Megan Fox in Spandex

    You forgot to include a link

  114. 114
    Dev Null says:

    @Lee: Adam’s post closes with this:

    Whoever thought that coordinating the strike with the Russians, in order to deconflict the airspace, minimize damage, and conduct a symbolic attack to demonstrate US resolve, the ability to project force (which no one doubted), and deter future attacks was a good idea just got played for a fool.

    which can be abbreviated to:

    Whoever thought that coordinating the strike with the Russians … was a good idea just got played for a fool.

    I see nothing about the press or T.coli’s supporters there …

    Perhaps Adam was making a different point: that, given the constraints, the strike should not have been mounted, but that’s not how I read the post or most of the comments to the post.

  115. 115
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @gvg: Given how this weapons system works, far, far, far, far, far less could have gone wrong than might have gone wrong on the bin Laden raid.

  116. 116
    Roger Moore says:

    @clay:

    Jiminy H. Christmas. I don’t know who Bill Mitchell is, but do these people think that Obama didn’t bomb anyone in his eight years? That one ineffectual missile volley is somehow so virile, but burying bin Laden at sea wasn’t.

    It’s an identity thing; nothing Obama did was tough enough because Obama was the one doing it. He could have personally killed bin Laden with a K-bar, and these assholes would dock him style points for not doing it with his bare hands.

  117. 117
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Dev Null: Deconfliction is not problematic. Deconfliction in such a way that allows for the removal of what should be the real targets – Syrian planes and the chemical weapon components and/or munitions – is problematic.

  118. 118
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Dev Null: That is correct. Given what we did and what we targeted and the actual effects achieved the mission was both pointless and a failure.

  119. 119
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    I think the real issue here is whether or not the Tangerine Tyrant will now feel embiggened enough to go after a more formidable foe next… like North Korea…

    THAT could be a real mistake… and get lots and lots and lots of people killed very quickly…

    Just sayin’… that jackass and his groveling minions do seem stupid enough to do something like that on their own…

  120. 120
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Thru the Looking Glass…: Bradd JaffyVerified account
    North Korea option presented to Trump is to target & kill Kim Jong-un & other senior leaders, sources tell NBC News

    David Frum‏Verified account @ davidfrum 10m10 minutes ago
    David Frum Retweeted Bradd Jaffy
    Looks a strategic leak intended to scare the Chinese into action. Wonder how impressed Xi is by the “don’t hurt the runways” show in Syria?

    I don’t know if taunting a paranoid lunatic with his finger on a nuclear button is good strategery, but I’ve never read Art of the Deal, or even seen one episode of the The Apprentice.

  121. 121
    sukabi says:

    @Yutsano: when Drumpf said he wasn’t going to telegraph his military moves, it looks like he meant he wasn’t going to telegraph them to OUR officials / state department / Congress….tells everyone else though.

  122. 122
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Sometimes it seems like I’m pretty good at puzzling these things out for myself… and this is one of those moments when I’m really not all that pleased about it…

    This is terrifying… and probably a 100,000 times more so for the S Koreans and Japanese…

  123. 123
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: If you want anarchy on the Korean peninsula, across the border into China, this would be a good way to accomplish it.

  124. 124
    Dev Null says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Per #114, you said “coordinating with the Russians” – deconfliction – was not a good idea (paraphrasing), but whatevs. [shrugs]

    I haven’t seen a definitive timeline, so I don’t know how much warning the Pentagon thought appropriate. Given the ever-present possibility of a SNAFU in communications, and the possibly catastrophic downstream consequences of dead Russians, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that SOP is to give at least an hour’s notice … which is enough time to move equipment. (“SOP” a bit misleading since this was not “standard” deconfliction, but if standard deconfliction channels were indeed used, lead-time might even be called out in the agreement.)

    Or the Pentagon might have allowed for round-trip C2 delays, in case the guys on the ground called home for direction, as they are wont to do.

    Not seeing how this could have worked out differently once you posit that killing Russians with missiles in Syria would make for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

    Happy to be educated if I’m missing an important point.

    Thinking it’s a better argument that if one has to give as much time as was given here – 1 to 2 hours, sounds like – a strike like this is pointless except as a very expensive fireworks display.

    You posted #118 while I was typing.

    I’d put the point a bit differently: given the reality that you have to provide considerable lead time to avoid killing Russians, the mission was never going to destroy mobile / move-able equipment, and so in any rational calculus was pointless.

  125. 125
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Dev Null: Not sure where the missing part of the connection is here, so I’ll try again. Deconfliction, in general, is the way to prevent misinterpretations, accidents, and all around general bad days that don’t need to happen. The specific deconfliction that occurred yesterday, however, made it impossible to achieve anything even remotely close achieving any legitimate strategic effects. Doing nothing would have been better than doing what we did.

  126. 126
    debbie says:

    Frankly, just Trump’s god blessing the world is sufficient to prove this is all fake at tail wagging the dog level.

  127. 127
    Dev Null says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Hmm, is that true?

    Look at it this way: the runway wasn’t going to, uh, run away. It could have been cratered – a strategic effect. Reports I’ve seen say that the runway was intentionally not targeted. That says to me that “strategic effects” were not a mission objective.

    If “strategic effects” were not a mission objective, then it seems to me misleading to say that the mission was a failure because it failed to achieve strategic effects; rather, your quarrel should be with mission objectives.

    That said, my preference would have been “nothing” too … if the mission objective was “send a message”, then our crack diplomatic team has successfully muddied those waters, but “you go to war with the diplomatic team you have” … or sumpthin’.

    Tangentially:

    high-res imagery of the area here

    I think I found the link at LGM.

  128. 128
    Vhh says:

    @John Revolta: Tomahawk is not a new system. Munitions age. And Raytheon stockholders.

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