Friday, April 20, 2018

What can we learn from the missile strikes in Syria

Mr. Trump convinces France and the UK to shoot cruise missiles at targets in Syria.  This was in response to Assad attacking his people with chemical weapons.  The response was exactly what Mr. Trump had criticized Mr. Obama for doing.  Amazing how times have changed.

But now a week after the missile strikes, the effectiveness of this attack remains unknown.  If Assad did use chemicals against Syrians, then we still don't know if he used Sarin (which required the type of facilities that were struck) or more common chemicals such as chlorine or mustard (both of which are easily available as industrial chemicals).

Reading some of the foreign news sites, it isn't even clear if France launched any of their missiles or cancelled at the last minute.  In comparison, US news sites are declaring a smashing victory of the combined attack with no losses.  However, Russian and non-US sites paint a picture of some of the cruise missiles being intercepted by Russian anti-missile systems.

The truth is likely somewhere in the middle.  The US and allies struck targets in Syria more a show of force rather than any actual degradation of Assad's ability to use chemical weapons.  Even at the best of times, some of the missiles probably failed to hit their targets allowing the claim of Russia and Syria that the attacks failed.  More troubling is the potential that Russian military technology can intercept US cruise missiles, even if it's only a small percentage of the total launched it still would be troubling for the US military.

The missile attacks also support the notion that the SecDef is the only adult influencing Trump's national security policy.  Perhaps this also signals that Mattis can keep the war-mongering Bolton in check.