My view of the Trump administration’s action is not much different from my reaction to the previous strike on Syria.  I don’t have any strong objection to a one-time punitive strike in reaction to an atrocity, as long as it is a discrete action not undertaken with a view to any wider war.  Importantly, it should not serve to promote any illusion that we can use military force to bring about a solution to the Syrian tragedy.  Sometimes, there is realistically nothing we can do to right wrongs in different corners of the world.  I think we need to be smart enough to face that reality with regard to Syria.

At the same time, I can’t help noting the hypocrisy inherent in the US and its allies claiming to be the world’s enforcers of humanitarian values.  Any such claim, to be credible, would require at the very least a cessation of this country’s aid to Saudi Arabia’s brutal conduct of its intervention in the Yemeni civil war.  Also, the Trump administration’s loosening of safeguards against civilian casualties in its drone strikes and other military operations around the world has very probably already resulted in more deaths than Assad’s most recent atrocity.  So, let’s recognize this strike on Syria as an assertion of American power more than as an expression of a humanitarian mission.


  1. Jeffrey Herrmann April 15, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    The strike on Syria evoked some interesting reactions from Hair Twittler’s looniest right wing supporters, of which Alex Jones’ was illustrative:
    He appeared on TV “ … breaking down in tears and railing against Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. ‘Fuck Trump, and fuck these fucking people,’ Jones said.” [feel free to redact the vulgar language]
    In addition to costing the Presidunce some support among the whacko birds, you have to think some of the generals are one step closer to resigning after listen to Hair Twittler go off on a rant about the search warrant executed on his consiglieri while appearing on TV ostensibly to announce the reasons for the military action.

  2. Albert Kim April 15, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Sorry, I sympathize with what you’re trying to do here as a committed anti-imperialist, but this is lacking perspective. The US has been bombing Syria regularly for 4 years now. We have 2000 troops on the ground and have conducted 15,000 airstrikes in Syria, you have to be not following what’s going in Syria to make too much of a big deal out of this. There hasn’t been any attention on calling out for alleviating casualties and destruction of infrastructure when the US bombed Raqqa, killing 1000 civilians. And now the media is buzzing with viral videos for strikes that targeted chemical facilities.

    • tonygreco April 17, 2018 at 2:07 am

      Points well taken. US responsibility for Raqqa, in particular, is noteworthy, both because it reinforces my point about the hypocrisy of US pretenses to humanitarian intervention and because it has gotten so little attention from our media.

  3. Michael Teitelman April 15, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    There is a twist in the “dance” Asad and Trump performed this week that has gone unnoticed in the vast output of the commentariat (aka “the media”).

    The conventional take is that Asad pressed his attach on still functioning opposition militias by gassing them and that Trump had drawn his red line. The US attack made Asad “pay a price” that may delay Syrian use of chemical weapons in the future. The US will increase the price if and when Asad attacks with chemical weapons again.

    To appreciate how Asad played this gambit with a strong hand and exerted control over Trump in one key respect, think about what happened the day before Asad launched chemical weapons.

    There was BIG news. Very BIG news. Trump announced that he wanted the US to withdraw from Syria. This was big news in its own right but it was also big news because the military leadership talked him down from the precipitous action he had in mind.

    So the next day Asad attacks with chemical weapons. Trump has no choice but to respond militarily. That is fine and dandy with Asad because he wants the US to stay in Syria for now. From the Syrian point of view, US has been making a critical strategic contribution to the survival of the regime. The US has “taken out ISIS’ who are deadly Sunni opponent of Asad’s Alawite (Shiite) regime.

    Asad has the power to “imprison” Trump in the violence in Syria. He can pull out of Syria as he announced or he can be ready to react to Asad’s next red line outrage. He can’t do both.

    Asad won that strategic round. And nobody noticed. The commentariat was beguiled by poison gas, red lines, Trump’s machismo, and violent technological reprisal. The US will leave Syria when Asad it’s time.

    • tonygreco April 17, 2018 at 2:12 am

      An interesting, plausible speculation, but I’m skeptical. I haven’t seen anyone else advance the view that Assad actually wants the US to stay in Syria.

    • Donald Campbell April 25, 2018 at 9:36 am

      An interesting speculation, but if true certainly a risky gambit!

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