the Yesterday the Trump administration’s decided to launch 60 Tomahawk missiles from US destroyers stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean causing significant damage to a Syrian government controlled air force base in Eastern Syria between Damascus and Hom. The decision was met with widespread praise throughout Washington although not from his usual sources of support.
Many legislators on both sides of the aisle summed up the strike as proportional and necessary. However some of Trump’s longest running adversaries thought while the attack is a good start it didn’t go far enough and want to see further military action against the Assad controlled territory.
For instance John McCain said on Morning Joe “to quote Winston Churchill ‘this is the end of the beginning not the beginning of the end.” Pushing for nothing short of regime change.
The message from Trump’s former competitor Marco Rubio was very similar. He stated to a gaggle of press, “I could foresee more US troops on the ground in Syria,” He went on to state that a goal of regime change is appropriate.
General Mattis and Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster (Trump’s national security adviser) according to unnamed sources played the largest role in deliberations of exactly what plan should be carried out in response to the gas attack earlier in the week. While Trump and Jared Kushner, now with Bannon out of the picture when it comes to national security, likely weighed out the pros and cons the strike would have politically.
There are two key details that while covered in the press seem to have lacked the emphasis they deserved. The US warned Russia of the strike many hours in advance, leaving them plenty of time to get both their personnel and valuable resources out of harms way. So while of course the Putin administration is going to condemn the attacks on the world stage, namely during the latest meeting of the UN Security Council, they likely not only appreciated the warning but understood that politically Trump had no choice but to strike.
But if Russia had advanced knowledge, then why not alert their ally Assad in Syria? The answer to that question is where the public narrative begins to unravel. There had to be an agreement between the US and the Russians that this strike was a win-win for both sides. For Trump it crushed all rumors of Russian collusion if he is aggressively bombing Russian allies. While Assad gets off with a slap on the wrist and a strong rhetorical warning not to use chemical weapons again.
At the same time Trump shows that he is not afraid to act quickly and aggressively but at the same time not go overboard into shock and awe mode or anything close to it.
That is where the second underrated point comes into play. The Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife were dining at the Mar-a-Lago resort as the strike took place. This sent a not so subtle message that a Trump administration would not hesitate to take action against North Korea should they take one step out of line. China has long failed to dis-empower it’s nuclear neighbor to their east.