Friday, April 7, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He put a Syrian government airbase out of commission for almost 19 hours.

At about 3:40 a.m. today local time, Tomahawk missiles launched from a Navy destroyer in the Mediterranean hit the Shayrat airbase in part of Syria still under the Assad regime's control. The Trump administration was obliged to warn Russia in advance of the attack, because it is a military partner of the Assad regime. Russia in turn almost certainly warned the Syrian military, which took measures to move or protect the most valuable military resources it had at the base. The runways were undamaged.

About 19 hours later, Reuters reported that Syrian government planes had carried out airstrikes against rebels launched from the Shayrat base. In announcing the targeting of the same airbase from which Tuesday's chemical attacks had been launched, the Trump administration's explicitly stated goal had been to destroy "the things that make the airfield operate."

In what is turning out to be a recurring theme for his adventures in Syria, Trump had previously taken a different view of the wisdom of warning enemies of impending attacks.

What does it matter?

  • Military might doesn't matter much if the president wielding it doesn't have a strategy.