US Launches Airstrikes Against Syria (Updated)

So the military/surveillance state got its war against Russia after all. My, that was fast. Merely implementing a no-fly zone was widely seen as tantamount to instigating a war with Russia, and this move is far more provocative.

Perhaps the US thinks it can engage in a show of muscle and stop there. But as Lambert has pointed out, some things can’t be unsaid. Even if this attack was meant as an over-the-top message to Russia regarding its support of Assad, some things can’t be undone either.

Another line of thought is that this airstrike was meant as a warning shot to Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding North Korea, that the US is willing to take aggressive, precipitous actions. Unlike Syria, North Korea would be a bona fide threat to the US if it succeeds in its efforts to build long-range missiles.

From ITV (guurst):

The US has fired dozens of cruise missiles at an airfield in Syria in retaliation for Tuesday’s alleged chemical weapons attack, US officials have confirmed.

Around 60 tomahawk missiles were launched from US Navy destroyers, targeting an airfield near Homs, in the most dramatic military order of Donald Trump’s presidency so far.

Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post points out via an e-mailed alert that:

Donald Trump does not have the legal authority to launch airstrikes against Syria, yet he has done so tonight, multiple news outlets are reporting, and confirmed by an intelligence community source…

Update 10:15 PM. From the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. military launched a series of strikes against a Syrian air base Friday, a response to mounting calls for a display of force in the wake of this week’s suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.

The strikes represented the first time a U.S. military operation deliberately targeted the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and came a day after President Donald Trump said the chemical attack in Idlib province earlier this week, blamed on Syrian forces, had changed his thinking on Mr. Assad…..

U.S. lawmakers had urged Mr. Trump to strike the Assad regime. There is a growing consensus that the regime used banned chemical weapons in the attack, which killed at least 85 people, including 27 children, and injured about 550.

CNN reports that Trump will address the nation shortly.

Update 12:30 AM:

This is from Howard Beale IV, but I don’t have the images to confirm his take. Readers? Note that the US did give Russia a head’s up before the bombing.

If you see the press pictures of the runway damage of the Syrian airfields, the amount of damage is so minimal they’ll be back in operation in under a week. IOW, it was just a very expensive fireworks demonstration.

Had Hair Furor really wanted to send a message, they would have had to actually destroy the runway with a bombing mission-that’s a very high-risk move, but would have sent a far more serious message that we’re not fucking around.

This may be giving Team Trump way more credit than is due. However, any action against Syria, even if Trump was sold on the idea that this was a warning shot disguised as an apparent act of war, it is first very risk and second has the effect of committing Trump psychologically against Assad, when before he was pretty indifferent.

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    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Who feels like a schmuck for saying “Well, we KNOW Hillary will start a war…Trump will be embarrassing, but he sounds like damn near one of the Pauls on foreign policy…”

      We don’t have isolationists here, or protectionists, or America-firsters, or anyone who hates killing.

      Just warmongering for profit all day every day. This is a dark day.

  1. pretzelattack

    i’m trying to be restrained tonight, but it’s hard. is trump going to be addressing us from inside some hollowed out mountain in the west?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The ending of his speech was somber.

      Is there a power greater than the president that is moving world events invisibly?

        1. craazyboy

          “There is a growing consensus….”

          God speaks in quite whispers to the faithful…..

          So now we get the calls to depose Bad Guy Assad. Our good guys are Al-Qaeda and ISIS, so I guess they take the helm, then. Jolly good, olde chaps. I’m glad I don’t have to explain that to Putin.

      1. miles

        Yes, it is the evil that invokes God’s name to justify acts of violent aggression. It is the worldwide religion of warmongering and profiteering that rules the hearts of our leaders. The exact sort of evil the Bible warns about. Think: who did Jesus condemn while on earth? The self righteous Jewish religious elders. And summarily they fought for his execution.

        Isn’t it evident? God does not have to move world events. The evil in human hearts, throughout history, has slowly but steadily led us to the brink of total annihilation. That is the price of free will.

        The question then is: does it stop there? Or is there a God that will redeem the earth at the end of it all?

        Personally I believe the Bible, the principle of resurrection bringing eternal life out of death, and the promise that we will be judged by our works, not merely our “religious” “faith.”

        I hope that we can all find some sliver of hope to keep our heads up in these times, whatever that means for you personally, because despair is a bottomless pit.

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          I hear ya, Miles. Keep the faith.

          Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are the warmongers”.

        2. Doug Hillman

          This nominally Christian nation officially practices the polar antithesis of Christianity as it carries it’s flag-wrapped cross into its Imperial crusades. I call this “Churchianity”, its gospel so utterly perverted that it is unrecognizable to anyone with a passing familiarity with Jesus life and message. Instead of embracing true communism, practicing peace, tolerance, honesty, forgiveness, and loving kindness, this twisted gospel glorifies greed, power, universal deceit, and violence, while standing on the self-righteousness pedestal of wedge issues, especially related to sex, that Jesus never once brought up. Orwell never imagined such a state of depravity.

  2. grayslady

    I just tried calling my so-called Congressional representatives. I can’t even leave a message after business hours. I am so angry right now I am seeing red! Who are these people that think they can declare war on a sovereign nation–with a legally elected government–when we haven’t been attacked or threatened? We’ve just experienced a military coup if Congress no longer has the right to declare war. Insanity!

    Thanks for the out-of-cycle post, Yves. NC continues to be my first source for real, accurate news.

    1. oho

      Trump supporters aka the “deplorables” are flipping out and feel incredibly betrayed.

      Bipartisanship at last–ex-the neocons.

      1. jrs

        their candidate certainly proved deplorable enough. Bunch of dead Syrians killed by U.S. missles, are they deplorable or just dead? Yea the deplorables that aren’t lucky enough to live in the U.S. get murdered outright and not slowly either.

        And then Trump won’t even allow the refugees this war will create into this country. F the man.

        1. tony

          The Deplorables are mostly against the war. They are probably the only real anti-war faction in the US, as the anti-war Left tends to dissappear whenever a Democrat is in power. Deplorables actually are angry at Trump for this.

          1. JerseyJeffersonian

            Yes, my big city “liberal” paper is eatin’ this shit up with a spoon, while the deplorables are watching themselves be elbowed away from the table by the “smart & savvy” people as the war drums are being pounded. Why would the deplorables be happy about this?

    2. Dead Dog

      Yes, anger and despair.

      Re declaring war, I think the previous two pressies already crossed over that line, consequence free

      1. jrs

        I don’t think it’s been declared since the Korean war actually, so some 70 years of undeclared wars?

        1. JerseyJeffersonian


          Not even then, as it was characterized by Truman as merely a “police action”. Sure it was, Harry. Oh, and thanks for authorizing the Security State, too.

          1. Jeff

            According to Wikipedia, the last country the USA declared war on was Hungary (during WW2).

    3. JohnnyGL

      Both Senators and my Congressional Reps are getting a call tomorrow morning! NO MORE WAR!!!

      Lots of people in DC want impeachment, now I’m on board.

      With Flynn gone and Bannon marginalized, Trump has suddenly transformed into another GW Bush!!!!

      1. Tom

        Funny how there’s always money for lobbing endless flights of Tomahawk missles at countries on the other side of the world, but never enough to fund things at home like healthcare, education, environmental protection and infrastructure. I guess you go with the priorities you have, not the ones you wish you had.

        1. Carla

          I guess you go with the state you have, the Deep State, not the one you wish you had … that, uhm, democratic thingy…

        2. Sandler

          How many US children died this week from lack of access to adequate healthcare, food, safe roads, safe neighborhoods, etc?

      2. different clue

        You will discover the Democrats in DC won’t want impeachment anymore. The more Clintonite Trump becomes, the more support he will get from the Democrats.

        1. Marina Bart

          Yes, I was about to wail at JohnnyGL — ARE YOU KIDDING? YOU WANT PRESIDENT PENCE?

          Please, please, please, can we stop pretending impeaching Trump moves the country left or towards more sanity or more anything good?

          Pence is a Dominionist who is ALSO a Koch puppet. Please read up on Dominionist beliefs before saying you think we’ll be a more peaceful empire under his putative leadership.

          Trump under the nominal control of the CIA is still less terrible than Pence, a Dominionist who would have been installed by the CIA, and who would happily work with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to make this horrible situation MUCH, MUCH WORSE.

          1. m

            Is that why Trump adds all that god talk. He sure doesn’t sound very christian when he is on Howard Stern.

    4. Bill

      GOOD NEWS !

      You can now reach your representatives in Congress via the Facebook Town Hall feature, which allows you to send them messages via Message or Email.

      Enjoy !

      1. Marina Bart

        Just bear in mind that going through Facebook means giving Facebook a lot of information about you that it will be using and selling in a variety of ways.

  3. Dead Dog

    Just gobsmacked.

    This isn’t a game of bluff ffs A major war affects everyone on the planet. How f’ing selfish and blind to the destruction and the killing of human beings.

    What’s next, North Korea? Cut off the head?


    1. MoiAussie

      This is not (yet) a major war. In fact, it’s less than I expected, which was a US/Israeli attack on Damascus to try to take out Assad. It’s not the first direct US attack on Syrian forces, and it won’t be the last. There have been plenty of US boots on the ground for some time now. You can start worrying when coalition forces try to take out Syria’s air defences.

      This attack seems to be sending a very clear US message to Syria: We will not let you defeat our rebels and our terrorists. We will intervene every time you get close and ensure the conflict continues. We need no justification for our actions, we can create one whenever required (thanks Turkey). Do not stand in the way of our interests.

      1. MoiAussie

        The message can be seen as a direct response to Assad’s statement, reported yesterday, that there is no “option except victory” in the country’s civil war.

        “If we do not win this war, it means that Syria will be deleted from the map. We have no choice in facing this war, and that’s why we are confident, we are persistent and we are determined.”

  4. Buck Eschaton

    I wonder how many Hillaryites/McResistance people will be defending Trump now…how many brains will explode???

    1. marym

      Clinton speech today:

      “Hillary Clinton calls on the US to take out Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s air fields”

      (Tweet links to a CNN story too, but too slow to load.)

      Apparently Neera hadn’t heard the speech:

      Neera Tanden‏Verified account @neeratanden
      I’m not saying we should have a year long debate on use of force but perhaps more than 24 hrs btwn Trump doing a 180 on an issue and bombing

      MSNBC: live tweeting MSNBC coverage. Summary:

      Adam H. Johnson‏Verified account @adamjohnsonNYC · 2m2 minutes ago

      Six consecutive MSNBC guest praising Trump for airstrikes, the only dissent on MSNBC concern trolling over Congressional authority.

      1. Carolinian

        There ya go. And to the WaPo, the NYT, the Blob and Mrs. Clinton: beware of what you ask for, you may get it.

        Will the Left finally and at last regain it’s anti-war soul? Or will they stay glued to MSNBC?

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          No, they won’t think about the murder & mayhem because they are all caught up in their bloody-minded tribalism. Coopted by the “liberals” in their campaign to subvert the Constitutional order too much to care about their own supposed “values” being trashed by lending themselves to the cabal.

          I expect nothing from the cucked “left”, anymore than I expect anything from the cucked “right”.

          And Durga Mata, Hillary Clinton, dances on the corpses as her necklace of skulls clatters around her neck. True bi-partisanship.

    2. different clue

      Many. Millions. This is exactly what the Clintonite Shitocrat Scum were voting FOR when they voted FOR Clinton. They must be surprised and delighted to get the Assad Must Go from Trump that they thought only their preciousss Mommy Wokest would have delivered unto them.

      1. Marina Bart

        Not all of them. I haven’t been on for a couple of hours, but I saw quite a few trying to say this proves Trump was always the real warmonger and Hillary is the dove of peace.

        They have remarkable minds.

        1. Marco

          The standard view for most good “liberals” regarding Hillary’s militarism was that it was merely a cynical ploy in currying favor with the MIC in her attempt to gain the Presidency. After entry to the White House she would be a good little diplomatic internationalist and dial back the iron-lady persona. So why is she calling for air-strikes NOW when she has NO CHANCE IN HELL of ever gaining any real power in the few remaining years she has left on this sorry planet? What does it matter to her now and who does she need to please? Also doesn’t this kinda neutralize any anti-Trump / anti-war push by Team Blue.

  5. Tom

    Well, that will certainly knock the Susan Rice scandal off the front page, won’t it now? Wag that f**king dog, you bastards.

      1. JerryDenim

        If memory serves me correct Bill Clinton launched a volley of cruise missiles at targets in Iraq the night before his Congressional impeachment vote. Dan Rather was on the scene in Baghdad to report the attack “LIVE!” so there was a great deal of coordination and preplanning that took place with the media. ABC had to interrupt their specially scheduled programing for the evening to report on the attack. A televsion special on John F Kennedy who was portrayed as the nation’s greatest president who incidentally was a serial philander that just couldn’t keep his d*%k in his pants- what a coincidence! Remind you of anybody you know America? (Nudge, nudge, wink) Wow look at those pretty explosions. Serious manly-man stuff right there. Pretty darn grown-up and Presidential eh?

        The more things change in Washington the more they stay the same. I hope this little cruise missile stunt blows over without a major escalation of the Syrian proxy war, but given the recent glimpses of behind-the-scenes crazy emanating from the power struggle in Washington I have a bad feeling about this. Who the hell is driving the ship at the moment?

  6. ChiGal in Carolina

    The ignorance, sentimentality, and impulsivity of this man is astounding.

    What does Scott Adams have to say now, I wonder.

    And what rough beast…? Trump is the very embodiment of the Ugly American.

        1. St Jacques

          Did anybody think it would be otherwise? Just be grateful he killed the TPP. That’s one nice wrench thrown into the machine.

          1. Marina Bart

            I think the TPP zombie is still out there, unkilled.

            But Trump slowed all this down. If Hillary had been elected, drafting women would already be law, and we’d already be on the Russian front.

            We did throw a wrench in, but if the machinery is strong enough, it will still grind that wrench down. We need a nice acid bath, or maybe a pool of molten lead. Isn’t that what finally took out that last piece of the Terminator?

            1. John Zelnicker

              @Marina Bart – Molten steel; in a steel mill.

              Had to be since he was basically made of steel, and lead melts at a lower temperature than steel does.

            2. Dirk77

              Points taken.

              The US now reminds me of Athens in the Peloponnesian War. Who will be, like Sparta, the adult to administer our final beat down after all our military (and otherwise) misadventures ruin us?

      1. Aumua

        Maybe someone with an ego like he has is just easily manipulated. All you have to do is push the right buttons, in the right order. We all signed up to find out what was under the smirk, and now we are finding out. Fun times ahead.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Oh, it was his call. He got up and made a speech. He’s got too much ego to do anything like that if he wasn’t on board.

        But what this says is the people around him are increasingly figuring out how to manipulate him. Even if they can only drive him in a direction for a short vector of action, as in make isolated decisions, that’s enough for them. A series of short vectors in the direction they want will get them to their destination, even if the path is herky-jerky.

        1. grayslady

          That’s a very frightening thought, since Trump’s advisors do not inspire confidence.

          1. sad American

            My initial take on Trump was that he would be taken into a room and shown something needed to bring him around. Where that is remains to be seen. Obama, W and others likely got a similar treatment. How else would nonsensical 180s be explained, even by DC standards?

            Who is pulling all those strings?

        2. voxhumana

          It could be he’s being manipulated but maybe he and his team are taking a page from Clinton’s triangulation playbook, especially with Clinton having called for the exact same strike just yesterday. It puts approving establishment Dems in the awkward position of having to “normalize” Trump for carrying out the same neocon agenda Clinton campaigned on – the worst possible thing for their version of the party’s future. And I bet that if someone who has his confidence explained it to him that way he’d have signed on in a heartbeat.

          Now, the dems also know there are Trump voters who believed his campaign’s pro-detente, anti-regime change rhetoric but they aren’t going to morph into a peace party just to win back a few misguided old hippies. Most dems* will ultimately have to support, in some way, Trump’s action at the same time they’re kissing goodbye all the establishment GOP and neocon endorsements Hillary got. The Dems will never get those again. Trump may have just coopted the bellicose center/right space that Clintonism aspired to.

          I bet his approval ratings go up.

          Meanwhile, the doomsday clock inches ever closer to armageddon.

          *I will be particularly interested to read what Gabbard and Sanders have to say

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Only time will tell, but I’ve been wondering the last week or so if Trump has decided to take the Kissenger line on Vietnam, as in ‘don’t do anything, Nixon is crazy enough to do something stupid’. In the longer term, it could serve his purposes for the Russians and Chinese and North Koreans and Iranians to think they are dealing with a man capable of any impulsive lunacy. In the mind of Trump and his crew, they may feel this gives them cover for achieving broader aims. For a man obsessed with ‘the deal’, playing the crazy card while someone else (Kushner?), plays the good guy would make a lot of sense. Trump is not intelligent in the conventional sense, but I think he has some grasp of his limitations, long term diplomacy and strategy being one of them.

        3. Tom

          Reminds me of the method of successive approximation — the process we used to train rats in my college psych class.

    1. Sandler

      Hey, this is still the “least risky” route for Scott Adams and his Estate, he’s chilling up in the hills of the Bay Area safely. He was pretty clear in his posts and videos that’s all that matters to him.

    2. mpalomar

      Trump didn’t kill the TPP it was dead already. He never wanted to be president, just used the election circus to push the Trump name, which is largely his business. He never had any serious ideas about helping the citizenry or statecraft and has now found that the IC establishment as Sen. Schummer, said, has six ways to Sunday to mess with you.

      The danger was always that Trump, once elected, with a trail of business liabilities and shady dealings would be susceptible to blackmail. Wasn’t that a theme at NC during the campaign, nobody gets elected president unless the IC deep state has dirt on them? Maybe they’ll keep him around now that they’ve set their hooks, he makes an amusing puppet.

      Interesting that Bannon was demoted out of the NSC the day Trump gets flipped on Syria.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You are exhibiting halo effect, a cognitive bias where people are all good or all bad.

        Trump did kill the TPP. Clinton would have labored mightily to push it through and she might have gotten it done. There’s no reason to think a Republican Congress would be all that opposed.

        Trump has little on the plus side of the ledger, but don’t deny him credit when he actually did deliver on something positive.

        1. mpalomar

          Perhaps, but my impression was the TPP was on life support when Trump pulled the plug. Why give Trump credit, the real work was the mobilization by unions and progressive labor movements who fought the deal and made it so politically unpalatable it couldn’t get through Congress.

          Sometimes a cigar is a cigar. If Trump isn’t all bad whatever is good about him is so deeply hidden and buried it is likely not worth excavating.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Those articles are both dated after Trump won. So they don’t prove your thesis. This is basically the Dems trying to diminish Trump taking credit. As much as I really admire Lori Wallach at Public Citizen, who singlehandedly did more to expose what these trade deals were about than anyone, she was so clearly a Trump hater that she overegged the case regarding the TPP being dead before Trump. It had looked dead before yet the Administration kept breathing life into it. And don’t forget that all the other signatories kept trying to move it forward without the US, apparently in the hope that that might revive it.

          2. Pat

            There were enough surrogates making it clear that Clinton’s anti TPP stance was for show. There were a whole lot of candidates of both parties running with similar faux stances or outright support of it. And the admin was keeping it around. TPP would have been passed in the lame duck…bipartsanly. Once it would have been thrown out by January 21at there was no reason to do it any longer. It was so not dead until election night.

            I am pretty sure Garland would have been confirmed as well. Hillary’s nominee sure to be worse.

            The Kabuki gets more and more obvious once you accept you are being played.

    3. jrs

      Scott Adams gig (and I don’t respect him, except for his toons of course) was saying Trump was a master communicator or manipulator in getting people to support Trump. That doesn’t mean that Trump is good, just that there is a sucker born every minute, that Trump was good at playing. But it is a rigged system.

    1. JTMcPhee

      McCain, even inside his protective bubble, is a lot closer to “passing on” from natural causes than the people who are going to have to try to make their way, on a screwed-up planet, and in a screwed-up political economy.

      Tillerson says “we know Assad did it.” Really? Proof? How Fooking dumb do he and the rest think we all are? Wait, wait, don’t tell me…

      I’ve written before about a sci-fi story from 1962, originally titled “A Sense of Obligation,” re-titled “Planet of the Damned” to boost sales. The framing is that the rulers of a hot desert planet are planning to launch nuclear weapons at a larger, cooler world, regardless of the ability of the people of the other planet being able to destroy the desert world if they try. Turns out the desert planet’s rulers, the “magter,” actually have a brain symbiote/parasite that’s turned them all “neocon,” so they do not give a sh!t about the consequences, and apparently do not even understand why they are going ahead with the attack, other than something like the Dalek’s motivational chant: “KILL! KILL! KILL!” Here’s the whole book, read it for free: Here’s the wiki article, for a short version:

      We naked apes on Planet Earth don’t, unfortunately, have a wise, honorable, fortuitous hero and his fortuitous native sidekick in place, able to take action and stop the MADness… All the institutions and incentives and rewards and shibboleths and hair triggers are in place, just waiting for the magters (the epitome of credentialed monomaniacs) to start the dance of death…. Part of what it’s about: “more than 50” Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles [have to include the obligatory, “I’m in the know” acronym, (TLAM)], 1,000 pounds, 550 mph, range 1,500 miles, warhead W-80 thermonuclear (“retired” – what does that mean?), or 1,000 lb high explosive, or “submunition dispense,r” or PBX (see this for detail, And most important, to “our” political economy,

      Introduced by McDonnell Douglas in the 1970s, it was initially designed as a medium to long-range, low-altitude missile that could be launched from a surface platform. It has been improved several times, and after corporate divestitures and acquisitions, is now made by Raytheon. Some Tomahawks were also manufactured by General Dynamics (now Boeing Defense, Space & Security)

      And the most important subset consideration is that, per “FY 2017 currently budgeted”, each TLAM (not including the launch platform, a billion dollar “destroyer” or many-billion submarine) costs the political economy $2,981,000 each.

      So that’s what, another $150 or $200 million out the launch tubes, to do what again, to “make America safe?”

      Will there be special medals handed out to the Navy crews and contractors who ran this attack? Maybe the kinds of gold stars handed out to kids who graduate from pre-K to K? “Participation awards,” “earned” from far out to sea, beyond the range of anticipated Syrian defenses and counterattacks (in the hope that “the Russians,” who do have the ready means to “reach out and touch them,” will continue to “exercise restraint” since we gave them a phone call warning the attack was on the way?

      I got the sinking feeling that tonight I’m going to have one of those horrific recurring dreams I mostly have mislaid, hangovers from the war thing I was dumb enough to enlist in…

      We who participate here at NC can jaw and perceive and understand and parse all we want — too bad that does nothing, can apparently do nothing, to stop those “magters” from launching this set of missiles, and going ahead with all the other stuff they have in hand, to complete the Fokking up of the planet…

      1. John Zelnicker

        @JTMcPhee – Thanks for that. Your analysis is spot on, and the details on the Tomahawk are quite interesting.

        I’m not sure they think we’re dumb, however. I think they either believe that we are too busy trying to live our oppressed lives to pay attention, or they don’t think about it at all and just do what they damn well please and Fokk the rest of the world.

        1. jrs

          There’s likely layers to it, their lies do keep the propagandized and poorly informed on board (yes everyone is propagandized to a degree but it really is a matter of degree, I mean the folks that never woke up from the American dream and American exceptionalism). Meanwhile those who see right through the ever repeating BS, well what can they really DO about it anyway? And yes survival keeps people poorly informed and even when not it keeps them too busy.

          If I was conspiratorial, I’d almost say this is why we can’t have nice things, like really basic things like the rest of the world has, because a more secure population might actually oppose the empire that purports to represent them.

          Anyway at least TWICE they have already LIED about Assad being behind gassings, and now we are supposed to believe them. Yes indeed what rubbish.

          1. fosforos

            for what its worth, Scott Adams says the “chemical warfare” story is a provocation designed to put Trump in an impossible position but that the “great persuader” has outplayed his “deep state” enemies by replying to a phony crime with an essentially phony attack!

    1. hunkerdown

      Mel, недоговороспособны (nedogovorosposobny) — incompetent to honor an agreement

  7. Altandmain

    This is a very serious mistake. I think that Trump’s Presidency will be a disaster, because he was not the man that he campaigned to be.

    If he were remotely serious, he would end the wars abroad, bring the US troops home and then use the money on rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

    This could easily spill over into other nations, lead to a large refugee crisis, and get a lot of people killed needlessly.

    It’s interesting to note that the Paleoconservatives have broken ranks.

    No U.S. interests are threatened by the Syrian government, and at present the Syrian government’s patrons are to some degree on the same side as our government in their hostility to ISIS. Attacking the Syrian government would be a boon to jihadists, the start of a new and unnecessary war for the U.S., possible direct confrontation with Iran and its proxies in Iraq and Syria, and a potentially disastrous provocation of a nuclear-armed major power. Trump is always emphasizing how the U.S. gets nothing from its foreign wars, so it bears repeating that the U.S. would most certainly get nothing from picking another fight in the region except increased costs and new enemies.

    If Trump were half the realist or even the ‘Jacksonian’ that some of his supporters have claimed him to be, this intervention would not be under consideration, but then Trump is first and foremost a militarist and seems inclined to favor military options to the exclusion of everything else. If Trump were remotely serious about his “America first” rhetoric, the obvious lack of any threat to American interests would ensure that there would be no U.S. military action taken against Syria’s government, but his use of that phrase has always been opportunistic and it has never meant that he is interested in staying out of foreign wars or minding our own business.

    Deeper intervention in Syria seemed to be something that Trump was unlikely to do as president based on what he said during the campaign, but he could never be trusted to do what he said and his foreign policy views have always been unformed (and uninformed) and can be easily changed. Trump’s lack of foreign policy experience and knowledge make him much more susceptible to bad advice, and his lack of any firm convictions means that he is more likely than most to yield to demands that he “do something” in response to an ongoing conflict.

    I think that ideologically the left has more in common with the Paleoconservatives these days than we do with the Clinton Liberal faction, which also wanted to go to war. They are pretty much neoconservatives.

    We disagree with the Paleocons on social issues and they are a lot more free market oriented, but when push comes to shove, they seem to be a lot more ideologically honest than the rest of the political spectrum. They also seem to be pro-middle class.

    We should also pay a very close eye on which Democrats choose to vote for this war. Who is going to play bad cop this time around? Everyone knows that like Iraq, this is going to be a disaster. Washington seems determined to not learn from its past mistakes … perhaps to make the military industrial complex very rich.

    I’m thinking that in 2020, if there is a Sanders like President, they could criticize this decision and go from there.

    1. Luke

      So did you believe Trump during the campaign then? That he was for curtailing the Empire and its maneuvers? One of the most frustrating parts of this entire debacle has been smart minded folk deciding Trump was the lesser evil based on what he said. As if what he said meant anything at all or was related to what he might do. Ever.

      1. Altandmain

        I thought there was a 90% chance that he would screw up and a 100% chance Clinton would. I guess we lose nothing since Clinton clearly was itching to go to war.

        Some things he might do are good, but some things will be bad. If he actually makes a serious attempt at trying to crackdown the H1B, that’s step forward in my book. So is any attempt to rebuild infrastructure and manufacturing. That said, some things are awful like his selling of private surfing data.

        I wanted Sanders to win.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        I think it’s more complicated than that.

        You ignore that the utter hysteria of the “evil Rooskies” campaign has revealed how deeply committed the military industrial complex has been about getting its Russian war.

        Trump was pretty consistent on not wanting to escalate in the Middle East, although he seemed to believe you could fight Muslim terrorists we had helped create surgically and that was naive.

        But he knows even less about foreign affairs than he does about domestic policy, and because he was such an outsider, his team has lots of people from various fringes because either no one would join even after he won and some marginal types were willing to sign on early and Trump felt he owed them. So his team never embodied a consistent view, even on the issues where Trump kinda sorta had them.

        And the the Borg went really hard to get out the folks who were not fully on board with neocon orthodoxy and get more warmogers in.

        Put it another way: Trump is obviously over his head in DC. I’ve been stunned at the willingness of the CIA to attempt openly to unseat a President. Even if he were deeply committed to not escalating in the Middle East and/or versus Russia, how long do you think he could have held out even if he were seriously committed, a seasoned bureaucratic infighter and had a loyal, aligned core team?

        It is now looking like Eisenhower was right, the military industrial complex could and has usurped democracy. A better President might have been able to check and contain it on its Russia campaign. Maybe a great President could have figured out how to stymie them but name names as to who we have now who could have done that.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Eisenhower. But that was a long time ago. (Actually, I think he presided over the initial growth of the CIA and the National Security State. But even I was a kid then, so I’m not real sure.)

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            And he had been the Commander in Chief of the Allies in Europe WWII. He could have stared anyone down.

            Secretary of State Dean Rusk did in a more limited way in the Cuban missile crisis. JFK had ordered a naval blockage and Rusk asked the Chief Admiral what would happen as Khrushchev ‘s ships approached. The Admiral said first they’d make a warning shot. Rusk then asked what would happen if they didn’t change course. The naval officer gets angry and starts to tell Rusk the Navy has been running blockades since 1812.

            Rusk cut him off and berated him along these lines:

            This is not about your pettifogging Navy traditions. This is a communication between the President and Khrushchev. You will not take a single action unless it has been explicitly authorized. Have I made myself clear?

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                You made me dig up my book Humanity, which is based on extensive archival research, by Jonathan Glover, and it was indeed McNamara. However, that scene takes a lot of artistic liberties. The Navy was leashed and collared before the blockade was put in place.

                I might as well write up the exchange as recounted by McNamara:

                “We’ll send a shot across the bow,” he said.

                “Then what, if that doesn’t work?”

                “Then we’ll fire into the rudder,” he said, by now clearly very annoyed.

                “What kind of ship is it?” I asked.

                “A tanker, Mr. Secretary,” he said.

                “You’re not going to fire anything without my express permission, is that clear?” I said. That’s when he made his famous remark about how the Navy had been running blockades since the days of John Paul Jones and if I would leave them alone they would run this one successfully as well. I rose from my chair and said this was not a blockade but a means of communication between Kennedy and Khruschchev; no force would be applied without my permission; and that would not be given without discussion with the President. “Was that understood?” I said. The tightlipped response was, “Yes.”

                1. solipsist

                  Anderson recalls the episode differently:

                  Admiral Anderson’s oral history differs and also warrants repetition:
                  We have standardized tactical publications for almost every conceivable type of naval operation… . A commanding officer has those on board ship. It’s his doctrine, and he has to follow it, and McNamara was getting into the instructions that these people had. I said: “They have these things, they’ve had them for years in the doctrine publications that they have as a basis to follow.” Somebody-it was not I and not one of the naval officers there, there was no reference on our part to John Paul Jones, but reportedly it is said that … I said to McNamara, “We’ve had them since John Paul Jones.” It was the reverse that had occurred.
                  Also consider Admiral Anderson’s account of McNamara’s “over preoccupation of detail” concerning Russian-speaking officers:
                  I sent out a directive to make sure that there were qualified Russian-language officers on each ship involved in the quarantine, in case there had to be interrogation, and I made available through the Bureau of Naval Personnel … Russian-language people, for example from the Naval Academy…. As CNO, I didn’t go around and personally try to check on every ship to find out if a Russian-language officer was aboard…. But McNamara wanted me to get into every detail, he wanted me to interrogate each ship as to whether language officers were actually on board.

                  Unfortunately for Anderson, an oral history in Navy archives cannot compete with books subsequently quoted by other historians. For instance, H. R. MacMaster relates the Pentagon encounter verbatim from McNamara’s words and characterizes Anderson as “the recalcitrant admiral.” But buried at the back of MacMaster’s book – in a footnote – is admission of “a good bit of contention over who said what in the Flag Plot.” Another account of this “clash” about “standardized tactical publications” for blocade procedures finds McNamara saying: “I don’t give a damn what John Paul Jones would have done.” To help resolve contention about the CNO’s character, authoritative evidence resides in Anderson’s important contribu~ tions to the final draft of President Kennedy’s epochal Missile-Crisis speech. The process was “terribly risky,” because a “mix of personality, expertise, influence, and temperament” can yield “misperception” and “miscommunication.”


            1. ex-PFC Chuck

              In his book The Brothers, Stephen Kinzer asserts that John Foster and Allen Dulles coordinated with each other beforehand to present a united front during meetings on national security issues with Ike, and this usually crowded out other viewpoints on whatever was being discussed.

        2. sad American

          Will any further WikiLeaks ongoing revelations come to naught, beyond some Senate blathering? There is such a brazen play underway that citizens must be shell-shocked when not outraged.

          Thank you for listening/reading, as this site is one of the few voices of reason.

        3. b1dalt

          I thought there was at most a 5% chance Trump would stick with his professed non-militarism , if that.

          But really, Trump declaring one of his strategies to defeat ISIS was to ” bomb the shit out of them” should have been a clue about the depths of Trump’s commitment to non-violent foreign policy..

          Also all of his jabbering about how US military spending needed to be increased drastically did not bode well for…anyone. Except the MIC, of course.

          Don’t be surprised when the gun in the first act, goes off in the third.

          Anyhow, given the political swamps that have quickly sucked in the administration, we all knew this was comin, soon.

          It just highlights one of Obama’s concrete achievements, which was somehow keeping the US out of the hot war in Syria.

        4. different clue

          I am just a layman here, obviously. But I don’t believe it is the MIC. I believe it is what Colonel Lang over at SST chooses to call the Borg. The Intelligence Community, the Clintonite Shitocrat Party and its associated interference-running hasbara-liberals, the pro-war Mainstream Republicans, etc. All the filthy interventionist Responsibility-to-Protect scum and ilk.

          The Military Service leaders themselves have been trying to prevent war with Russia one way or another, deconfliction in Syria, etc.

          Watch how pro-Trump all the Clintonite Shitobamacrat scum in office become now. I don’t believe that is MIC-driven.

      3. SpringTexan

        Thanks, Luke! That has bothered me too. A con man will say anything and a sucker believes him. Some people that are surely intelligent but also gullible took him at his word.

        Trump, like everyone, should be judged on actions. And based on past actions, NO ONE should have believed or trusted him.

        1. juliania

          This does not follow. The man was untried in international diplomacy. His statements were all we had to go on. It’s true that his business methods imitated those of the Wall Street giants and took advantage of the ties between government and finance that had been forged under previous administrations, but he seemed to oppose the entrenched interests and could have been expected to continue that independent stance.

          I voted for Jill Stein. But many thought her candidacy was doomed, I guess. I think she was a better option, but one never really knows how a person will behave once power is ceded to them. And I do not blame those who voted for Trump; they intended well. It is he who failed them, just as Obama failed his voters.

    2. Carla

      And so, Altandmain, you still think presidents are in charge?

      In foreign affairs, nope. Not a chance. National security apparatus fully and firmly in charge — for decades.

      Yves and Lambert deride the idea the Deep State is in control. I really don’t understand why.

      In certain minor aspects of domestic policy*, somewhat.

      *BTW, healthcare is a very minor aspect of domestic policy in terms of the all-important, all-holy federal budget. Let me ‘splain it to you: Virtually no other industrialized nation spends more than 2/3rds what we do on healthcare, and they cover 100% of their populations. The U.S. government funds 2/3rds of our healthcare right now, but because the feds are subsidizing the private insurance, hospital and pharma industries, we can only afford to cover about 75-80% of the population, and as a bonus, everybody else’s care is crapified. What a deal!

      1. Altandmain

        I’m aware of healthcare, although I had been hoping that Trump would have the guts to actually fight or not have his ego pushed around.

        As for healthcare … well I”m in Canada so I do know about how terrible US healthcare is (lived in the USA for 5 years). We need universal dental care, but yeah American healthcare looks to be in even worse shape!

        I suppose Mr. Trump may be afraid of ending up like Kennedy?

         President Kennedy fired the Deep State’s godfather in 1961, after the Bay of Pigs calamity and Dulles’s never-acknowledged support for a failed coup against de Gaulle (believe it, the French president). Taking this to the ultimate, Talbot, who founded Salon 20-odd years ago, makes a persuasive case that Dulles retreated to Georgetown, gathered his loyalists, and probably architected JFK’s assassination two years later. Talbot’s book does not include this incident, but I have it from a former spook of great integrity, now noted for blowing whistles: A few years into Barack Obama’s presidency supporters asked at a fundraiser, “Where’s our progressive foreign policy, Mr. President?” Obama’s reply: “Do you want me to end up another JFK?”

        Yeah something is going on behind closed doors for sure that we need to know about.

      2. Marina Bart

        You’re misstating Lambert’s position on the use of the term “Deep State,” which I believe Yves has explicitly confirmed she co-signs.

        His argument is that “Deep State” is unuseful because it’s inadequately descriptive of the unaccountable forces driving the government, which are not perfectly aligned and aren’t actually that deep. We know who and what drove this coup to get this result. It’s not secret. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here because Lambert can speak for himself. But the key is that “Deep State” as a term is too vague and ominous sounding, which makes it both inaccurate and disempowering.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Agreed, and this is just a very short comment, Lambert can add more if he feels the need to add more color.

          We’ve never suggested that The Borg is not highly influential and willing to be ruthless. But the term “Deep State” has lots of connotations we don’t agree with, particularly that it is all powerful and unitary. It is full of people who have competing agendas and thus is often divided internally. Plus they are just people and screw up.

          1. MtnLife

            The Borg carries far more connotations of unity than Deep State does. In Star Trek, the Borg were a hive mind construct that assimilated all before them. Can’t really get more powerful or unified than that. I know Lambert likes The Blob, but that also speaks to a single “minded” entity. Deep State by nature refers to a whole host of actors – a independent governing body and the apparatus that runs it. Runs neatly parallel to the rogue CIA stories.

            1. JTMcPhee

              …and while we smarter people carry on erudite and percipient debates about the number of angels danceable on the head of a lexical pin, the devils we know, and think we know, and don’t know, and don’t know we don’t know, and struggle so vibrantly to learn something about, devils who know they can put almost all their sh!t publicly into the intertubes where messages reach intended targets but are lost to poignant visibility and potential catalyzing action in the cacaphony, do all the acting and creating of events that become “history…” Or never become visible at all…

              Including little sh!ts like Duterte and his puffed-chest poke at the Red Dragon, and the O-6s and 7s and corporate types and “statesmen” and spooks who weigh, to a feather’s mass, wielding the tools of war that we mopes pay for in, so very many ways, the risks the Rooskies will not return fire in each provocation “our side” pulls out of their collective “deep state” as$es, jostling each other to be “toughest” and most manned up…

              And what are “we,” who are mostly (with notable exceptions who have suffered horribly from the long slow collapse of “the center”) fairly comfortable in the current political economy that “we” would like maybe different “outcomes” from, but seem to have no grasp of how to wrest the levers of actual power and action from the mortmain paws of those who bleed and crush the rest of us? How to calculate the vectors of thrust, and frequency, and curve of power, of that butterfly’s wing beat that might change the Juggernaut’s path?

              1. different clue

                Different people will have different theories about how to do that, and such people should all form up into their own different TAGs ( Theory Action Groups). People should do what they believe in the most, because they will work most effectively at what they believe in the most.

                And the different TAGs can send representatives to cross-TAG meetings from time to time to compare notes on which theory seems more reality based, and which theory seems to inform actions which achieve actual effects in the world, and so forth.

                And then the different TAGs can keep experimenting and see what works better and what works worse and what works not at all.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > the Deep State is in control. I really don’t understand why.

        Then you’re not paying attention; we’ve enaged on this topic over and over again. And “deride” implies we’re not doing serious analysis.

  8. mpalomar

    Has NC linked to this interview with Seymour Hersh regarding his story on the first Sarin attacks in Syria? It has implications regarding what is happening now.

    The NYT is floating a story from unnamed intelligence officials about how the Russians connived to elect Trump. It is terribly disturbing to watch the manipulation of the mechanisms of thought control contrive the grounds for yet another war.

    So far the US missiles seem to be landing on Syrian air bases and not Russian targets but a very dangerous game. It must be hoped that the Russians, who seem to be the rational actors, will seek to avoid confrontation with the US war machine.

      1. Quentin

        Yes, Bob, thanks for pointing this out. Turkey! Who let arms and men cross into Syria unobstructed from their territory for years? Turkey. Where did the endless lines of oil tankers travel to from Isis held-territory. Turkey. Which country wants to put an end to any Kurdish political aspirations. Turkey. Which country demanded Assad’s removal on basically religious grounds Turkey. And on and on. Erdogan will win his referendum by hook or by crook. Donald Trump could never get this in a thousand years. Most people could’t, so I can’t fault him for being especially thick. Turkey is NATO’s heartthrob who has taken over the place. And Turkey receives ‘victims of the chemical attack’ to public acclaim, proving its case against Syria. Long live the nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire. Long live the utter stupidity and callousness of the US government towards its own people and the world.

  9. ewmayer

    I still await a shred of credible evidence that it was in fact the regime which used said weapons.

    But the neocons talking heads on the TeeVee sure like it! All we need is another Hillaryesque ‘we came, we saw, he died [chortle, smirk]’ soundbite.

    Watching the coverage on RT right now to get the taste of paid MIC shills like George Stephanopopopopopopoulos out of my mouth … seems the admin. called the Rooskies to give them advance notice, and strikes were on just 1 airfield. The wild-eyed optimist in me hopes this was a staged ‘show of force’ to assuage the domestic-side warmongers, but said optimist is currently being roundly shouted down by the ‘this is nuts!’ voices.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Putin and Xi have domestic audiences too. The Kennedy boys acted aggressively because they believed the Russians would know the were only kidding. The Politburo had to react to the street as much as any government, and the street hated how the US treated Cuba. Obama didn’t understand this either.

      It was ludicrous when Democrats claimed Obama played 853rd dimensional chess, and it’s ludicrous when people try to make excuses for Trump.

      1. pretzelattack

        both parties, rotten to the core. i thought there was a possibility trump meant it when he repudiated the iraq war. or maybe he just meant it at that minute.
        the maine and the tonkin gulf and iraqi wmd’s, and now this shit. i never really got why it was necessary to risk ww3 in cuba; still less here.

      2. oho

        from my POV, literally no one in the rank-and-file deplorable crowd is happy.

        At the very best, people are confused and tow the “maybe he knows something we don’t” line.

        1. jrs

          “maybe he knows something we don’t” is a sure sign of authoritarian thinking if ever there was one.

          1. tony

            Not really. Reserving judgement is completely reasonable, especially when this attack looks more like theatre than anything else.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              It’s insane theater because it only works if Putin is immune to popular pressure. Putin is genuinely popular, but like so many, breaking public trusts sets the stage to become unpopular.

              Putin and Xi will be forced to react regardless of secret deals because (Americans really do hate this) the citizens of other countries have agency. All governments rule by the consent of the governed. This has and is always the case.

              The Kennedy boys almost killed everyone on the planet because they assumed Khruschev would know they were all talk. Guess who didn’t know?! The average Soviet citizen who was legitimately concerned by a major U.S. arms build up. Eventually, the Soviets reacted. The last Democratic President started a war with China. Whether it was a rogue general or not was irrelevant.

              Given the sanctions, bases, previous regime changes, the clear intent of TPP (to cut China from world trade), and “OMG Russia,” there can be no secret deal.

    2. ChrisPacific

      I’ve been reading the comments on Sic Semper Tyrannis. Lots of speculation and not too much consensus, but a few things seem clear:

      1. It wasn’t sarin that was used (lack of hazmat suits/protective precautions from medical personnel in the videos, who were not falling down/dying in consequence)
      2. It would have been extremely counterproductive for Assad to order this and give the US an excuse to intervene, given the current political/military situation.

      Point #2 doesn’t rule out him having done it as a big middle finger to the US if he thought he could get away with it, but I don’t find that idea particularly credible.

      At this point I think all Syrian sources should be regarded as highly suspect pending verification and evidence. Alternatively you could just pass on the whole evidence thing and just conclude that if it’s bad then Assad done it. This seems to be the line the US government is taking (I’ve yet to even see an acknowledgement from them that evidence is needed, much less that they have any).

      1. fajensen

        1. It wasn’t sarin that was used (lack of hazmat suits/protective precautions from medical personnel in the videos, who were not falling down/dying in consequence)

        The tiny pupils of the poisoned children looked more like an opioid than nerve agents – the latter should cause dilated pupils. Carfentanil, elephant tranquilliser, is said to be toxic to humans down in the 20 micro-gram exposure range, Sarin is still up in the milligrams. Carfentanil has a higher boiling point so it needs to be an aerosol or dust to “work”.

        Could be a double-fuckup; They bomb a ISIS drug-lab where they are busy spiking the favorite jihaddi drug Captagon with from a sack of cheap Chinese “W18” ….

        Of course I think it more likely that McCain or Turkey supplied whatever the hell was used. Turkey did that last batch of Sarin and got nailed by Obama over it so probably they used something else again.

  10. IDontKnow

    One wonders what Republican Congressman Massie thinks about his statements on CNN that he thought it very unlikely Assad authorized any gas attack. Will he stick to his opinion, or fall in line and follow the money. Anyone, are there any component makers for Drones/Cruise Missiles in Kentucky?

    CNN’s Bolduan, visibly taken aback by what the man is saying — as though it were inconceivable a U.S. lawmaker might have an original opinion on matters — fumbled for words a few moments before managing a simple: “Who do you think is behind it?”

    Massie began to answer, but Bolduan cut him off. Unsurprisingly, she asked him directly if he was saying he believes what the Russians are saying — that Assad had nothing to do with the attack that killed dozens in Syria on Tuesday. Reuters reported Wednesday that the attack has sparked renewed calls to oust the country’s president.

    1. craazyboy

      I saw some news stating the gas attack area was “in rebel held territory”. But Syrian military stated it was a civilian part. So I would think someone should check the bodies for guns first…then there was the baby pictures.

      I guess breakdown in command is always a possibility, but Assad would be wacko beyond belief to sacrifice whatever ties he has with Putin to kill 100 – even if they all were ISIS.

      I hate false flag arguments, but it sure seems to fit here. Plus it worked on the trigger happy target, if it indeed was one.

        1. Matt

          Thank you for posting the second website, it’s an excellent resource. Be sure to read the discussion pages as well.

    1. pretzelattack

      carter didn’t start ww3, and brokered a peace process in the middle east, which lasted longer than most there.

        1. pretzelattack

          yes, reagan did far more to arm the middle east, and push the cause of us hegemony. giving saddam wmd’s in the first place, after giving iran weapons for holding the hostages till inauguration day. the roots of us hegemony seeking in the middle east go back at least to ike. carter wove one strand in a large rug, but there was pushback against the us in the form of hijacked planes well before carter, and because of our interference in the middle east in the 50’s and our support of israel in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. jfk almost got us into ww3, and johnson of course may have been even more militaristic than kennedy.

          1. gepay

            I think JFK came to a perception that a nuclear war would be madness during the Cuban Missile Crisis – there was General White who believed, if there is nuclear war with Russia and there are two Americans left and only one Russian – then we won. I believe this changed him from the liberal cold war warrior he was. I believe he and Khrushchev (who had been the political commissar at Stalingrad and knew what war was) came to an accommodation and were working to end the Cold War – notice the nuclear test ban treaty which the Soviet Union agreed to when the fallout from their tests went mostly across the US. JFK’s possibility of ending the Cold War was the reason he was assassinated. Notice also that shortly after JFK was assassinated, Khrushchev was deposed.

    1. marym

      I have a comment about this in moderation, but I’ve seen other tweets indicating the same.

      1. pretzelattack

        i hope that history won’t be depicted in pictures on the wall of a cave. hyperbole, but it’s that kind of night.

  11. clarky90

    This is how world wars begin…….

    Shelling of Mainila

    “The Shelling of Mainila (Finnish: Mainilan laukaukset) was a military incident on November 26, 1939, where the Soviet Union’s Red Army shelled the Russian village of Mainila (located near Beloostrov), declared that the fire originated from Finland across the nearby border and claimed to have had losses in personnel. Through that false flag operation, the Soviet Union gained a great propaganda boost and a casus belli for launching the Winter War four days later.”

  12. zapster

    I have a hunch that obliterating the evidence of the false-flag “chem attack” is also a goal. Social media exploded with questions about the ‘evidence’ instantly.

  13. flora

    There was an emergency meeting of UN Security Council to address Syria chem weapons. Looks like it was US, UK, and France on one side vs Russia and Syria in the meeting. After the the meeting ended without a vote the US took military action.

    From aljazeera:

    “Haley hinted that in light of a UN failure to prevent such attacks, certain states may be “compelled to act” on their own. ….
    “The Security Council meeting was adjourned without a vote scheduled as ambassadors continued negotiations privately.”

    Any vote is now moot.

    1. craazyboy

      The scenario is Assad dropped a gas bomb and killed 100. If he used real bombs, he could have killed many 1000s. The math and military tactics here is making my head hurt.

  14. Swamp Yankee

    I don’t think Maddow et al. quite know what their position ought to be. Like that moment in 1984 when the speaker switches the war from Eurasia to Eastasia. The bought courtier press is confused. Based on about 25 minutes on MSNBC, I noticed:

    — Maddow sounded her first cautious, not-hysterically-Russophobic notes in months. If Trump’s for war, she will once more become “anti-war” as she was when first climbing the greasy pole. (Rachel, those of us actually opposed to war and empire notice you’re only against it when it’s not your Party doing it). Then as the evening goes on it seems she may be warming up to the idea.

    — Matthews is stuck in Cold War mode. Makes numerous references to “the Soviets.” Seems to worry about intervention on the one hand, worry about failing confidence in us by our client states (al-Sisi he mentions) if we don’t do something, on the other;

    — Brian Williams references “The American President”, seems to think we are in an Aaron Sorkin script.

    — Not on MSNBC, but on NBC Nightly News tonight, Hallie Jackson intones breathlessly about “the ULTimate test of a Commander in Chief”, is clearly dazzled by the prospect of a war nobody she knows will have to fight.

    Empire is a religion for these people.

    1. akz

      Sisi huh? Not that anyone here doesn’t know but the USPTB/MSM are truly the worst kid of shitbirds. On 14 August 2013 Egyptian security forces raided two camps of protesters in Cairo: one at al-Nahda Square and a larger one at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. The two sites had been occupied by supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who had been removed from office by the military a month earlier, following mass street protests against him. The camps were raided after initiatives to end the six week sit-ins failed and as a result of the raids the camps were cleared out within hours.The raids were described by Human Rights Watch as “one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history”. According to Human Rights Watch, a minimum of 817 people and more likely at least 1,000 were killed in Rabaa Square on August 14

  15. SeanL

    Far more important is the optics of this while Xi was in the US.

    What is the value of hitting the same spot with 60 cruise missiles?

    Can’t help but think this was more about warning North Korea (and China) than Assad.

    As the Chinese saying goes: chop off a chicken’s head to scare the monkeys.

    1. hemeantwell

      With further sleepless thought, I’m also reminded of Truman at Potsdam. Xi is in town, and Trump is doing a war dance. This can only have the result of driving the Russians and Chinese closer together. Let’s throw in Iran as well.

      Trump thinks he’s staged a propaganda coup against the Clintonites and to some degree he has. But by acting out their plans in a wild man format he’s showing how crazy and vicious they all are. There’s going to be a drive to play their hand out, and there will be scads of opportunities to overreact. How is this going to effect Russian support for US efforts in Afghanistan, for example?

  16. Luke

    I’m through giving leeway to the Trump apologists who said during the campaign that he was less likely to start a war or drop the big one and that this alone was reason enough to not support his opponent. Totally absurd. Nothing he said meant anything in the real world. He will do what he wants in the moment and that is all. The entire group of voters who figured his rhetoric (scam/con) was proof that he was the lesser of the evils is frustratingly naive.

    1. Aumua

      It certainly was an argument that was repeated ad nauseam around here by certain individuals (not necessarily the majority) as a pat answer to any question of the correctness of voting Trump. Unwarranted optimism about Trump’s motives, plans, and/or capabilities will continue to look more and more absurd as we go forward, I predict.

      On the other hand, I don’t think he’s really doing what he wants either. More like he’s along for the ride at this point, as are we all. It’s possible that Trump still thinks otherwise.

    2. Fiery Hunt

      Hillary was out today, before the missiles, advocating for EXACTLY what Trump did.

      The only consistent, morale choice between Hillary and Trump was NOT VOTING FOR EITHER ONE.

      1. Carolinian

        Right. And let’s not forget that the media as well as the Clinton and Obama people have been doing everything in their power to scandal Trump into not changing course on foreign policy. Clearly they’ve succeeded and now say look, toldja, just the same.

        Yves probably sized up Trump best at the very beginning–all hat, no cattle. There’s yet to be any indication that he knows what he’s doing and I strongly believe he never expected to win in the first place. Election night he seemed a bit stunned.

        But for Clinton supporters you can’t say aha Trump doesn’t know what he is doing when he has just done what she recommended that he do.

    3. RudyM

      I still think it was reasonable to vote for Trump as the lesser evil, in order to stop Hillary. Trump was a wild card. Hillary had both the record of interventionism and the rhetoric. Trump talked out of both sides of his mouth, but he was at least pretty consistent in opposing hostility toward Russia. And he hadn’t been intimately involved in planning or supporting the invasion and destruction of multiple countries. Of course, that might just be because he had no record as a public official at all.

    4. lambert strether

      To some voters, Clinton was a guarantee of war. Trump wasn’t. Not all trades pan out. Yeah, it was a Sophie’s Choice.

      Sorry you’ve run out of leeway. Must be stressful for you.

      1. b1dalt

        I feared Hillary’s hawk rhetoric, but I don’t think she would have botched things nearly as much as Trump. Trump was obviously the worst of all worlds to anyone not afflicted with CDS.

        Why did anyone think Trump would stand up to any of the usual neo-con, military-financial complex forces once he was in office? What would the upside for him be, once he got the rubes’ votes?

        I’d much rather have a reasonably skilled insider in office, than a bloviating, macho, buffoon.

        Just last week I was thinking, “well now that Trump is starting to realize the President isn’t the boss of the world, we should be seeing his first unilateral military action, any day now.”

        To all my friends who spent the summer shredding the Hildebeest on Facebook, “I told you so!”

        1. jrs

          Only what is Libya, the war she pushed for, other than a complete botch up?

          So I could go with they are both warmongers but Hillary is better on domestic policy but even that only marginally (probably would not have started off trying to cut Medicaid – but who knows what other damage she might have done). I CAN accept Hillary would have been better on environmental policy.

    5. lambert strether

      To some voters, Clinton was a guarantee of war. Trump wasn’t. Not all trades pan out. Yeah, it was a Sophie’s Choice.

      Sorry you’ve run out of leeway. Must be stressful for you.

    6. different clue

      Well, Trump is doing what Clinton always wanted to do. If I had known that Trump was just a piece of Clintonite shit in Republican disguise, I would have voted Third Party.

      But I would not have voted for Mommy Wokest in any case.

  17. JohnnyGL

    Now that I’m getting my head around this….there’s a couple of minor rays of hope….

    1) When I heard “tomahawk cruise missiles”, I flashed back to the plans that Obama drew up in 2013 to basically destroy the ability of Syria to function as a state. They were going to take out bridges, airfields, fueling stations, and tons of important infrastructure. It would have had the potential to provoke a Libyan-style collapse.

    Thankfully, this is NOT that plan. Just a limited attack on one airbase and surrounding infrastructure.

    2) At least they gave the Russians a heads up.

    Beyond that, this is a complete nightmare. Iran’s going to be bullshit mad, Russians are going to be bullshit mad. Chinese won’t be happy, either. Egypt will run straight into the arms of the Russians and the Chinese. They all know Assad is the only thing standing between them and the jihadi head-choppers.

    As far as Yves’ comparison with Clinton’s stated views. I could easily envision her doing something similar after a staged chemical incident like this.

    1. b1dalt

      How about some credit to Obama for actually not doing it? Meaning, he moderated his conduct in light of reality.

  18. Thor's Hammer

    The USA is a rogue nation in the world community. Dying Empires are at their most dangerous when they begin to loose control of events.

    Anyone with a functioning brain cell can immediately identify the sequence of recent events in Syria as a false flag attack staged to provide the pretext for an unconstitutional act of war. The one participant with the strongest motive to not stage a poison gas attack was Assad—but the MSM immediately started a coordinated chorus of blame, the “intelligence” agency warmongers called to the Presidential briefing room read from a script prepared during the Obama administration, and our Idiot-in-Chief started searching his desk for the cruise missile launch codes

    In previous administrations false flag attacks have been orchestrated by brilliant Machiavellians like Cheney, who was able to sell an illogical fabrication like the Official 911 Report to a gullible public. After a success like that, the deep state Overlords have obviously concluded that they don’t even need to try to cover their tracks. As well they might, having acquired full control of propaganda organizations like the Washington Post, NY Times, and Google News. And now they have as a front man an individual so mentally deficient that he can believe almost anything as long as he thinks it is his own idea.

    Some voters concluded that placing an egotist like Trump in the Presidency was preferable to having a wholly-owned Neo-Con like Clinton at the helm of the Defcon button, but it hasn’t taken long to prove them wrong. Trump has shown himself to be nothing but a bloated ego with a delusional pea sized brain hiding under a rag of fake hair.

    So the immediate fate of the world rests upon the diplomatic skills of Russia’s chief oligarch, Vladimir Putin. One can only pray that there is a way to escape from the rush toward the cliff of Nuclear war.

  19. sierra7

    One of these days we will lose our perceived/real impunity to retaliation to those ships of ours who conduct these cruise missile attacks….then all hell will break loose.
    I can’t imagine anyone believing that this president, or possibly any other will slow down the march to Armageddon that we are on and willing to provoke to achieve, “Full Spectrum Dominance” of the world, especially of the ME.
    We are becoming crazier and crazier by the minute.

    1. Aumua

      I’m not. Are you? Is the American, Russian, or Syrian man on the street, just making their way through life, on a crazy train to murder and Armageddon? It’s just a handful of people, a minuscule minority, who cannot be content until they have everything. ALL of the wealth. ALL of the power. They stand and point around to everyone else on Earth and say “You all owe us! Bow down to us, or else..” They’re afraid. They know there is an awakening going on. They know we’re coming, so they have to immanetize the echaton, push things over the edge. Push everyone into hating and fighting each other, and those who won’t? There are plans for them too, I’m sure.

  20. JohnnyGL

    CNN’s Don Lemon and Fareed Zakaria are singing Trump’s praises, it’s obnoxious. Cruise missile launch video is on a loop.

    Not sure how much I can take….

    1. different clue

      Will some of them dare to hold signs saying:

      If I wanted war, I would have voted for Clinton.

      ehh? hmm?

  21. frosty zoom

    maybe mr. trump will get a gold-plated white helmet when this is all done.

    congratulations, america, you are once again al-qaeda’s airforce.

    make america gullible again!

    1. jrs

      Make American great was always BS, I want to make America good FOR THE FIRST TIME. Although clearly it just gets more and more evil. I suppose it is just in the nature of empire.

  22. Darthbobber

    Depending on what happens going forward this could also turn out to be one of those “gotta look resolute” nothingburgers. We gave the Russians some degree of advance notice through the “deconfliction” channels, knowing they’d pass that on to the Syrians, which probably minimized casualties at the airfield. And if this is a one-off, whose main purpose is to make the Donald look resolute, his people could be aiming to just go back to the track they were on.

    If not…well, we have people on the ground in known locations all over the place, and “accidents” do happen.

  23. Tim

    Provocative in the truest sense of the word. our best hope is his tipoff to the Russians is seen as an olive branch of some strange kind.

    Trump is not deep and plays things how he sees them in tit for tat increments. The big concern is standard diplomacy does​ not view things that way. Diplomacy must adapt or we are doomed.

  24. SBW

    Well I wrote in Bernie so I can’t say I regret my vote. I figured Trump would be hooking up his business buddies and gutting worker interests, but at the same time I had hope he could resurrect some old style business-first isolationism — the former would have been a price I would gladly pay for the latter.

    I could care less about Russia or being friends or enemies of Russia. Chemical attacks in a far region of the world are not my concern — no matter how cruel that statement is. That war is a regional concern, not my concern.

    Trump, America First indeed. What a piece of %$#!.

    1. Altandmain

      It might be worth going for the Green just out of protest. Seeing that write-in doesn’t count for much and the Green Party (assuming it is on your state ballet) is available.

      It doesn’t really make a difference, but if enough people on the left did, they might make the 5% mark.

      Bernie’s campaign shows there’s enough people for this to be worth a shot if we could get 5%. The goal someday is something similar to Canada’s NDP.

      1. jrs

        Really the reason I voted for Stein, but she wasn’t even CLOSE to 5%. So the vote was so far from even mattering in that very minimal sense that it was completely demoralizing.

        1. j84ustin

          I agree. I know Greens performed better in ’16 than ’12 by leaps and bounds but I was still pretty demoralized after the vote when it was apparent she wasn’t close to 5%.

  25. Jerry

    1. How do we know assad actually did this and isnt being framed a la bush/cheney and wmd’s? What motive would assad have for doing this?

    2. Is ww3 the only way to get the domestic spending needed to fix our economy in the age of austerity and the freedom caucus?

  26. Edward E

    Day 77: the neocons fear Trump, NAFTA is scrapped, ISIS has been destroyed, the swamp has been drained, repealed Obamacare, Mexico made to pay for the wall, Muslims banned, wiretapping evidence presented, nobody lied, nobody seeking immunity, nobody recused themselves, no FBI… winning streak continues

  27. John

    Swarms of drones, suicide speed boats, subs and mines will sink the whole US Navy. Just check the pathetic war gaming exercises since 2002…all structured to make the empire appear victorious.
    Karma gonna come a calling to the US of A and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

  28. George Lane

    Trump is such an interesting and frightening phenomenon because he is ultimately the continuation of the status quo but puts such a naked face on the bullshit that has always been there. The way he spoke when decrying the horrors of the gas attacks, about all the babies that died, in his perversely hilarious cold and off-putting way, the US always does this type of crocodile tears, but with Trump it is incredibly on the nose. I have to say I am surprised at the speed at which this unfolded but of course in retrospect in makes sense I suppose. Some think this may be a one-off show of strength, a position I sympathize with but I am much more of a pessimist.

    One of the few things I truly credited Obama in a positive way with was the fact that he avoided direct “boots on the ground” involvement in Syria (thanks in part of course to Russia), how swiftly and brutally it was undone.

    1. Paul Greenwood

      He is totally in thrall to Ivanka who tweets before he does.

      He donated in the past to Schumer and McCain and Clinton.

      He was a Democrat. His daughter and President-elect Kushner are both Democrats. Kushner was funded by Soros to the tune of $250 million

      1. George Lane

        Yes I am well aware of all of this (well except for the Ivanka thing), but I don’t see what you’re saying in regards to what I wrote. Could you elaborate?

      2. gepay

        Ivanka has Jamie Gorelick as her deep state handler. jamie is the one who convinced Janet Reno as her deputy to authorize the massacre at Waco – the kids, Janet, the kids. never mind that 25 children were mostly burned alive. And these were American children. so to think that the US wouldn’t instigate a false flag and have Syrian children killed for political purposes is naive.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > Some think this may be a one-off show of strength, a position I sympathize with

      Trump may think that, or have been sold on the idea –giving the Russians a heads-up, for example — but that doesn’t mean it will turn out that way. We’re getting volatility, alright. Just internationally!

  29. Kalen

    Brace yourself.

    Those who voted Trump ( I was not one of them) have been vindicated tonight.
    Trump one way or another delayed the neocon war with Syria for at least two months.
    Only after being blackmailed by CIA he was put on leash and submitted.

    And all those on the phony left, touchy feely peace loving snowflakes who hate Bannon as reincarnated evil have been fatally discredited since it seems that Flynn and Bannon were the very few who opposed open war with Syria and Russia.

    The air base in Homs that was attacked was also Russian training and Repair base for Syria aircraft, first causalities reported.

    Are those first shots of WWIII?

    Here is PCR take on the beginning of new War with Russia and China since Xi was ambushed in Florida and Chinese never forget it:

  30. George Lane

    Let’s hope we see the same anti-war sentiment as we did popularly with the first gas attacks, which, we should all keep in mind was shown by Seymour Hersh to be essentially a false flag operation mainly conducted by Turkey with the Syrian opposition:

    Anti-war is the most important thing right now, and can be a rallying cry to unite leftists, liberal progressives, blacks, browns, white Trump voters (such as this one, There is no hope if we insist on dividing amongst each other. There’s the rich and there’s the rest of us. That’s it. The only thing that can unite us is a common struggle, anti-war can be a site of that common struggle, given that class politics in the Marxist sense won’t ever really catch on in the United States.

    1. jrs

      Oh I get caring about war as an issue, even one’s primary issue (though I would probably say caring about the survival of the biosphere is mine). I get that emotionally and even intellectually entirely, and am in great sympathy.

      However I do think we can DO more about economic and even environmental issues than we can about the issues of empire (locally if nowhere else, but also even nationally). It’s not just about what plays in Peoria to the masses, but about what the masses actually CAN influence. And I don’t put the empire itself high on that list. They are never ever going to let us have a say in that! And the masses being united and having no power doesn’t accomplish much unless it then shifts it’s focus to somewhere it might have some power. Basically what bones we can get even though we are ruled by sadists.

      1. George Lane

        I certainly agree with you that much can be done with popular organization with regards to economy and the environment, and I also agree of course that the planet is the most pressing threat to human life, but I think you underestimate the possibilities of anti-war movements and their central importance. The military-industrial complex is constitutively tied to capitalist expansion and environmental destruction, and therefore must be fought with the same virulence. This is why Bernie, even in the bizarro world where he was elected, would have ultimately fallen into line just as Trump did. There was a large anti-war voice back in 2013 when the mainstream media was beating the war drums, and thankfully we avoided intervention. Now though paradoxically Trump is able to do this unilaterally. Paradoxical because one would think the mainstream liberal center-“left” could be anti-war again given all the Trump hate, but on the contrary this will be great PR for Trump with the likes of CNN, as this is precisely what Hillary would have done back in february.

  31. Sluggeaux

    President Assad and his regime were WINNING the civil war — there is no reason that they would launch a gas attack against a non-strategic target when they have more than sufficient conventional force directed against armed fighters. This alleged “gas attack” only makes logical sense as some sort of false flag incident intended to provoke a reaction from the thin-skinned ignoramus in the White House.

    It worked. WW III is the extremists’ wet dream…

    1. Fiery Hunt

      It’s just so insane…the tribalism, the psychopaths in charge, the dumb public swallowing every lie..

      “How did we get here?”
      -old Talking Heads song

    1. Jen

      “It is noteworthy that in the hours before Trump ordered military strikes on Syria, Hillary Clinton emerged back into the public spotlight to demand that Trump carry out military strikes against Syria.

      Again, following a tried and true script, U.S. imperialist military actions against an independent, sovereign Middle Eastern government takes place under the pretext of protecting civilians from weapons of mass destruction.”

      Happy now?

  32. Frenchguy

    Channeling my inner Scott Adams: “What’s the best way for Trump to prove that he isn’t a Russian stooge ? To attack Russia !”

    Anyway, I’m taking confort in the fact that it seemed the mildest things he could do: bomb an airfield with missiles after having warned the other side (pretty sure the US has already intervened much more decisively in Syria, even if it wasn’t official…). The Blob will be so pleased he could almost make a deal with Assad now. Of course, I’m just trying to convince myself that the Hair is not crazy.

    1. MoiAussie

      Yes. So far, nothing substantial, just “perpetual war as usual”. The question is what happens next, in any of Syria, DPRK, Iran, the Baltics, and Ukraine.

      1. MoiAussie

        I’m agreeing with you, not being sarcastic. See my comment here upthread.
        The big unknown is of course, does it escalate? It won’t stop, in the sense of cease completely.

        1. Frenchguy

          Ah yes. If I read you correctly, you say this attack is a message to Assad. That’s where I don’t agree. This is way too public and ineffective so it looks more like a PR operation aiming at a domestic audience (based on the fragments of info we have, so this is very speculative). Trump needed to kill the gas attack story and he did. I’m sure Putin would understand.

          On the other hand, I agree that it creates very bad incentives. If I’m a Syrian “rebel”, I know what I have to do now… The best case scenario is that escalation (fake or not) creates finally the conditions for a settlement. Worst case… well…

  33. Paul Greenwood

    President of China visits USA and President Kushner causes huge embarrassment to him with Chinese Military elites. That is major disrespect. The US has used nuclear weapons on Asians and now deploys THAAD radar solely on the approval of a Korean President now under arrest who sought no Cabinet approval, a radar that offers Seoul no protection whatsoever.

    China and Russia and Iran know there can be NO agreements with USA that will last more than hours. the ABM treaty was torn up just like Hitler’s German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 24. Aug 1939.

    Russia knows war is coming from the USA. China is planning a 500 ship Navy and clearly needs more submarines and more bases near the equator. The US has chosen the path of global war and permanent warfare

  34. makedoanmend

    “There must be war. God wills it.”

    It is not the USA deep state. It is a Western ‘blob’. The USA just happens to have the biggest stick and so they use it when they see fit. The European states add the “moral” texture for US actions when they condone or ignore the use of the stick, as they have consistently done for the last few decades. (The UK, god bless, sends out a few ill-equipped soldiers and does the annoying yapping noises. Le Monde went into neo-liberal reporting mode before the attack [Assad is evil] and has basically sanctioned the actions since then.)

    Obama (the hallow man) was horrible but he had one “virtue”. He knew how to analyse a situation, and he knew that every situation has an upside and downside potential. (Of course, he only did this analysis on how it affected his view of himself and what others might think of him – ego analysis, if you like.) He decide Syria wasn’t giving enough upside to provide a good PR opportunity – probably too many unknowns and too many variables.

    Trump seems to have a sales rep type of personality. The only goal is to close the deal. These rep types know, at some level, that the deal might have negative consequences but they ignore these in order to get the deal done. They hope to collect their commission now and that a dodgy deal derails at some far off date. (Trump often reminds me of the Crazy Eddie[?] TV commercials I watched in NYC in the 80s.) Therefore, when confronted with a situation, the main focus becomes on the immediate action.

    Trump is not evil incarnate. He’s just basically does what a sales rep does, imho.

    Couple of PSs – did the neoliberals of the USA and the EU do an inventory of Russian resources during their tenure in the 1990s? Is the allure of easy Russian resource lucre just too much of a temptation? Will the Chinese see the USA’s actions as a slap in the diplomatic face – launching the attack when their Premier is in the USA? Did the USA/EU just cement the ties between Russian and China?

    The times are just about getting too interesting.

  35. cripes

    Trump did us a favor by breaking the Clinton and Bush dynastic ambitions. And disrupting the real ruler’s electoral illusions. But they’re fast reasserting their power.

    Tossed out the TPP after it was a dead letter anyway and “saved” a couple hundred air conditioner jobs in Indiana–until they get un-saved.

    That’s about it.

    Anyone imagining he would be transformational, in a good way, was delusional. I hope you’re over it.

    All he just did was prove–again–the executive can attack sovereign nations without a shred of legality or authorization from Congress or the UN. They’ll give their own emasculation a standing ovation at the next possible opportunity. Not sure if they’ll bow or bob for apples. Sanders and Warren will try to lay low, but when pushed will support it. Their scribblers are working on it right now.

    Tweaking Russia and supporting our terrist twoops in Al Nusra is always a bonus. McCain must have wet his diapers.

    Trump’s out of his depth, with a thin bench of Kushner and Ivanka, and will do what the spooks tell him. He might even believe all the posturing about the “babies.”

    WTF is this, 1917?

  36. vlade

    Trump’s problem always was, and is, his ego and the related thin skin. I wonder how much was this 180 driven by the constant “worst approval ever” messaging by the media, which now are gushing over Trump left right and centre, an ego massage he hasn’t got for a while. He’s now also disocvering the old truism that solving domestic problems is hard, and failyure

    TBH, what I’m really surprised on, is that no-one bombed one of “Trump hotels”, as that I suspect would lead him around very nicely thank you very much. Personally, I think it’s only a matter of time..

  37. Kevin Smith

    Matt Stoller ✔@matthewstoller
    “That awkward moment when Trump notifies Russia he’s about to strike Syria, but not the US Congress.”
    11:10 PM – 6 Apr 2017

  38. The Rev Kev

    I wonder how the United States Navy feels about becoming the tactical support group for Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria? Are their fellow Americans to thank them for that particular ‘service’ when they eventually come back home? Gaacchhh!
    If Trump thinks that he has gotten the Deep State off his back by fulfilling one of their wishes, he is much mistaken. All this means is that the Deep State has found that all they have to do is pile on the pressure and Trump will fold like a lawn-deck chair and give them what they want. Trump has just paid his first installment of Danegeld.

    1. financial matters

      Actually I thought the ‘man on the ground’ military would be most confused by Trump changing course in Syria and working with the Russians counter to what has been going on for several years.

      Other than some top brass it seems that most of the military are also subjectable to the onslaught of the neocon mainstream media.

  39. Je

    Tulsi Gabbard:

    “It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government. This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia—which could lead to nuclear war.

    “This Administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning. If President Assad is indeed guilty of this horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians, I will be the first to call for his prosecution and execution by the International Criminal Court. However, because of our attack on Syria, this investigation may now not even be possible. And without such evidence, a successful prosecution will be much harder.”

    1. Alex

      I agree with most of what she says, but the ICC can’t hand down death sentences…..

      Sad the “peace” politicians call for even more blood in this way.

  40. PH

    That Trump would order reckless military actions was predictable, and predicted. It is consistent with his personality. And just as importantly, it is a well-worn path to political applause.

    Our biggest problem is the applause for military action. There should be a severe political cost for any politician ordering war or supporting war.

    Terrorism has undermined the anti-war sentiments of the public, and that has cowed the vaguely dovish politicians.

    Some people here like to imagine a Blob masterminding events. Others more reasonably imagine a Blob stumbling along trying to conform to what the individuals perceive to be the latest conventional wisdom.

    But there is an outer fence to these activities — what the public will accept. The day may come when that limit grows even weaker, or disappears. But I believe it still exists.

    And the fence is not tight enough. We accept killing in our name.

    We should not. We need to organize politically to oppose war.

    As a practical matter, our best hope is to organize through the Dem party. The dove wing is weak, but it exists at the grass roots. There is no significant dove wing in Repub party.

    There is much work to do. Among ourselves.

    As an aside, my uninformed speculation is that there is an anti-Iran element to the attack on Syria (many Trump advisors are obsessed with starting a war with Iran). And, as others have pointed out, a warning to China to rein in North Korea. All batsh*t crazy diplomacy, but sounds masterful to people in the White House, I would bet.

  41. Angry Panda

    Press briefing of the Russian defense ministry (video has English subtitles):

    Basic idea:

    – The Russians claim that damage from the strike was negligible – six grounded aircraft in maintenance hangars, the radar station and a couple of buildings but not the airstrips themselves (see below). [In any case, it is highly plausible any active aircraft were moved shortly after receiving the Pentagon’s warning.]

    They also claim that only 23 of the 59 Tomahawks had actually reached the target area, while at the same time suggesting that there must have been so much planning (flight path programming, etc.) that this was “on tap” for a while and Trump was just waiting for an excuse to order the strike. So either they are not being completely truthful or the preparation for this thing was incredibly shoddy.

    – At about 3:49 they show shots from – what they say – is a drone orbiting the base direct after the strike (both infrared and color shots, so must have been several passes at different times). There are some fires, to be sure, but the strips appear intact and several “non-blown-up” aircraft seem to be parked near one of them. As well, the aircraft “bunkers” are intact, and all the fires and craters appear to be at least 50-100 meters away from the airstrips. Certainly quite the contrast to CNN’s rah-rah generals talking up U.S. strike capabilities last night.

    – There is ample criticism of “American aggression”, etc., demanding to see “irrefutable proof”, restating the claim that Syria had given up its chemical weapons years ago – that is to be expected – but they also throw in the assertion that ISIS and the “moderate opposition” launched attacks on government troops shortly after the strike, insinuating collusion. No proof, of course, but enough people living outside the U.S. will believe it (based on America’s past track record backing Sunni radicals in the region, including recently) to further tarnish, impugn, etc.

    – Finally, there are words to the effect of improving Syrian air defenses, but to be honest, it doesn’t really matter, particularly for this sort of one-off op. For Syria or the Russians to fire anything at U.S. aircraft or missiles is a very major political step, and unlikely to happen (in my view) unless the U.S. launches a full-on air war or some such (and stops giving the Russians advance warning). This way the damage seems manageable and they can now claim the moral high ground (not to U.S. audiences of course but domestically at the very least; as well, to “neutrals” like China and the various “stans”).

    Honestly, even if one does not believe a word the Russians say – presumably because they are intrinsically and inherently evil or some such – this sort of presentation was miles more interesting to watch than CNN’s last night’s coverage that spent half the time showing the same Tomahawk cut-out and the other half having two or three retired generals do their patriotic duty.

    1. Paul Greenwood

      I am sure China is scared and will kiss the feet of the Great White God……..if not, at some stage cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, LA will cease to exist

  42. nothing but the truth

    mr conspiracy theorist himself could not see a false flag waving right in front of his nose.

    suddenly jeocons and their media just loves trump.

    we’re going to have ww 3 with this guy, no doubt.

    i hope they gave him a fake codes briefcase.

    the question every american needs to ask – is israel and the old testament worth more than all humanity?

  43. Paul Greenwood

    Maybe Israel will lose airbases if it continues to attack neighbouring states ? Maybe not. Perhaps Saudi Arabia will pay for what it does in Yemen ? Maybe not.

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