How 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles Saved The World—And Made Tr-mp A Hero

I listened to thousands and thousands of words from hosts and guests on MSNBC this morning. There was Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Bob Woodward, George Will, John McCain, Marco Rubio, David Ignatius and numerous other voices. Here is what I learned after all the talk from politicians and “experts”:

1. Tr-mp is now a hero among our Sunni “allies” like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

2. Tr-mp’s domestic poll numbers will certainly go up now—but that had absolutely nothing at all to do with his decision to bomb Syria and possibly start yet another U.S. war in the Middle East. Oh, no. Tr-mp had a genuine change of heart after seeing those pictures of poisoned kids. This had nothing to do with his historically low approval numbers. And Tr-mp has a new-found strength. He can “reset” his administration. He now has a chance to win the hearts of the American people. Those 59 cruise missiles not only blew up an airfield, they apparently destroyed our memories of just how deranged Tr-mp is and how the Russians helped put him in power. Can’t wait for the next poll to come out and see how much damage those missiles did to our collective brain.

3. By bombing one airfield in Syria, Tr-mp fixed all the problems Obama created with his failure to bomb Syria after all that “red line” talk in 2013 and all of his reluctance to get us caught up in another war. By God, the world will change now that Tr-mp has fired off 59 cruise missiles. China will respect us. North Korea will take notice. Russia’s Putin, who we were told by John McCain, respects “power” and is a “pragmatist,” will begin to look at the United States differently now. Barack Obama, who apparently is responsible for every bad thing that has happened in the world since Moses was a baby, is gone and “there’s a new sheriff in town.” And this new sheriff has cruise missiles and he ain’t afraid to use ’em.

4. Speaking of McCain, apparently Tr-mp’s national security team is McCain’s dream team because he gets to talk with them all the time and they listen. Which means, of course, that John McCain may get to be POTUS after all and he may get his war with Syria that both he and Lindsey Graham have wanted for some time now. McCain characterized last night’s bombing as “the end of the beginning.” More tough action must follow. He never told us, though, just how many Americans should die in the war he’s been aching to fight for years. Or how long we would be there fighting that war. Or how much it might cost. Or whether Congress should, uh, authorize such a war.

5. Bob Woodward, whose mind has deteriorated with age I suppose, used the opportunity this morning to tell us how engaged Tr-mp has been (!) with states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia and so on. It is part of Tr-mp’s broad strategy (!), Woodward suggested, to change the dynamics of the Middle East mess (again, that Obama created with his fecklessness). Woodward and others on the panel this morning believe this Tr-mpian strategy (!) and the bombing last night will give new confidence to the Sunni players that the U.S. can be a “reliable partner” and they may now be willing to “step up” and get involved in the mess.

6. Meanwhile, there’s “the mess” in the Middle East. I heard thousands and thousands and thousands of words this morning—praise of Tr-mp, speculation, more praise of Tr-mp, analysis, more praise of Tr-mp—all based, as I said, on the unchallenged premise that Barack Obama’s weakness did much damage to the world and that Tr-mp’s bombing Image result for tomahawk missilesof Syria, his willingness to show that when he says someone has crossed a line, by God, they will pay a price for it. All those words I heard in some form or another, but, amazingly, I did not hear one word, not one single word, about the one action that helped, more than any other thing, get us into this mess in the first place. In all the talk about a “destabilized” Middle East, in all the talk about an emboldened and powerful Iran, there was not one mention of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney starting, on false pretenses, a war with Iraq, a war which did much of the destabilizing and caused many of the problems we see today. Not a word. Nothing. Again, it is as if those 59 cruise missiles destroyed significant parts of our collective memory. “The mess” is all Obama’s fault and Tr-mp is now the man who has gone a long way in fixing it by lobbing a few missiles at Shayrat Air Base in Syria.

7. Finally, just to clear things up, let’s talk about that 2013 decision by Obama—mentioned countless times last night and this morning on all the cable news shows—not to bomb Syria, not to do what Tr-mp did last night without congressional approval. First, things are a lot different today than they were then. A lot has happened in those four years, including hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees (which Tr-mp still doesn’t want to bring to the U.S.). Second, there is Congress. As Sebastian Murdock reminded us this morning, all the giddy congressman and Senators praising Tr-mp’s actions last night had their chance to weigh in when it mattered in 2013, after President Obama decided not to take unilateral action himself and instead wanted Congress to also own what might have happened if he had bombed Syria. Murdock wrote:

In 2013, when a sarin nerve gas attack left more than 1,400 dead outside Damascus, President Barack Obama went to Congress to get approval to strike.

In a whip count from ThinkProgress, 183 Republicans were against bombing the country. Only 12 Republicans, including then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), sided with the president to launch a strike. Ultimately, Congress did not appear to approve the strike, with 243 Congressional members swaying towards voting “No.” Obama ultimately decided to postpone the vote.

Murdock also reminded us of how Tr-mp, the Woodwardian strategic genius he is, felt about the matter in 2013. In August, Tr-mp tweeted:

What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.

Well, there obviously was no prior approval from Congress to bomb Syria last night. But there is plenty of praise today, especially from those who didn’t want any part of the decision four years ago. Murdock included this gem:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was one of the members of Congress who was against Obama’s plan. But he didn’t seem to have much to say in response to the news of Trump’s strike:

chaffeetz tweet on bombing

It’s amazing how the world works. Or how it doesn’t.

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15 Comments

  1. Duane,

    Talk about a knee jerk reaction, here it is. Trump, in your view, was dead wrong to launch the attack last night. OK, what should he have done? Would you agree that diplomacy alone has not worked to solve the crisis called the Syrian Civil War? When diplomacy fails in such an effort, what else do you propose?

    Will this single attack stop the Civil War? Of course not. Will this attack show deterrence at its best to stop future chemical weapons employment by Assad? I will have to wait and see. How about you?

    While we wait and see, what else do you propose that America do in the interim? More diplomacy of course, but do you have any other proposals to offer? Like it or not the single, very surgical attack has happened. What next should America do?

    Forget Trump’s mental health. Care to comment on same for our SecDef and National Security Advisor, two very “solid” military men. How about the mental health of the JCS? Do you believe any of those men advised AGAINST the attack? How has Tillerson handled the situation? Is he crazy also?

    I would offer one suggestion for consideration in the immediate aftermath of this single strike. Congress MUST get involved in authorizing military action in Syria, Iraq, North Korea at a minimum. A full debate should now be held in the full view of the American people to clearly show just what our President might be able to do with military force in the future in crisis situations in at least those three areas of the world.

    As well Congress should debate what to do if Russia decides to escalate in Syria to protect Assad or China might do in North Korea. Congress through full and free public debate must tell the President what the will of the American people really is in this dangerous and turbulent world inherited by the Trump administration.

    Are you capable of writing such a strategic blog offering your views on how to deal with the current danger in the world around at least in deciding when to use military power against the many threats we face around the world.

    In the meantime, as that strategic debate takes place in the halls of Congress, what should anyone do next if “tomorrow” Assad launches another chemical weapons attack against his own people, OR even if such weapons are dropped on American forces anywhere in the world today?

    The real question before us all right now is the question, is our Congress, or any other democratically elected governing body, really capable of providing firm, clear and appropriate strategic advice and consent to any Executive authority that is also democratically elected, like him/her or not?

    Our Constitution is very clear on the point that only Congress can declare War. Can you now define “war” and suggest what our Congress do NOW?k As far as I can tell the 1,000 or so special ops forces (Remember our Lily Pad debates in 2009, Jim Wheeler) are in fact “at war” in Syria right now. Should we evacuate each and every one NOW, along with the other 6,000 in Iraq right now Congress sure as hell did not VOTE to put them there. As well who allowed two guided missile destroyers to sit near a war zone ready and able to unleash attacks in very short periods of time. NOT CONGRESS for sure.

    Final point. Go ahead and impeach Trump, impeach Pence and Ryan as soon as they are sworn in as well. Then pull some rabbit out of the constitutional hat and put a Dem in the WH by next week. What should that man or woman do next, given where we are in the world right now, post single, surgical attack attempting deterrence against the use of REAL WMDs around the world today??

    Anson

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    • Anson, I believe you are being unfair to Duane in accusing him of saying the cruise missile strike itself was “dead wrong”. I re-read his post and he doesn’t say that explicitly. I perceive his meaning to be that Tr-mp did it on impulse rather than based on any thoughtful strategy. That should be obvious to anyone who watches the evening news. Tr-ump himself attributes his motivation to seeing pictures of gassed children.

      I agree with you about the need for Congress’ involvement, and I’m confident that Duane would as well. The point he’s making with this post, seems to me, is that it is the Executive branch’s responsibility to propose strategies and policies. The President has available to him lots of help to do this, principally from the State Department, the Defense Department, and other professional advisors who, unlike him, have actual governmental experience and read books. It is clear that Tr-mp disdains to rely on these, preferring advice from his relatives and cronies. What we’re seeing is governance and military action by impulse. What could possibly go wrong? Who knows what ideas this guy will wake up with tomorrow, based on something he saw on Fox and Friends?

      Congress reflects an America that is politically divided and distracted. The way it ought to work is to debate and assess carefully-considered plans and policies proposed by the Executive. What plans? What strategy? What does “winning” look like with regard to Syria, North Korea, China? What about the global economy? This problem is squarely in Tr-ump’s lap and his failure in this is astounding and unprecedented.

      Now, all that said, it may very well be that the strike was the right thing to do. Or not. Do we want to be the world’s policeman? Its conscience? Its military guarantor? If so, that runs counter to Tr-mp’s professed America First policy ( I almost said “philosophy”. Wishful thinking.). The inmates are in charge of the asylum.

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      • Jim,

        A non-partisan reply for sure and contribution to what should be a very fundamental debate about the authorization of American military power. Note my reply to Kevin goes to some length suggesting now is the time to do so.

        I do believe Trump reacted, personally, in a knee jerk fashion, as is very much his style. But you know as well as me that our military has had very detailed plans on the table for years to conduct such an attack at a moments notice. Those military leaders have been VERY frustrated that the authority to conduct such an attack as a matter of DETERRENCE to prevent future attacks has been unavailable.

        My own support for this recent response by our President and his administration is strictly based on the matter of how best to underpin our long standing policy of deterrence when it comes to WMDs, only. Some would say the invasion of Iraq was deterrence in action, except, WHOOPS, no WMD. That destroys credibility as we have seen. Think there is any WHOOPS in this case, 2017 as to the FACT that WMDs WERE used? Not a chance in my view.

        Is it POSSIBLE that some rebel outfit got their hands on some sarin gas AND when conventional bombs from Syrian/Russian jets land, the REBELS then opened a valve on a canister and gassed their own families? The Russians are now hinting that may have been the case but Europe and the King of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and probably Egypt all think we did the right thing. Just the simple point that sarin gas was even available in Syria to be stolen by rebels is a violation of the agreement between Syria, Russia, etc. to “destroy all chemical weapons is Syria”, was it not?

        As to what next, I believe you, me and Duane can find a path to at least DEBATE that outcome, in public and yes, in CONGRESS, not just herein as who really cares what we think.

        This is the kind of very deep and fundamental national issue I love to debate and read very carefully about. Up to your comment no one has made much of a contribution herein, yet. But thanks for your views. I don’t have strong disagreement with you as to what to do next. Of course after a debate in Congress THEN “someone” must make a …….. DECISION, like a new law of the land for authority for presidential use of force up to and including such force when WMDs are involved.

        Anson

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      • Thanks, Jim, for coming to my defense while I was out of town this weekend. Much appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

    • My response to you is today’s latest post.

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  2. DG

     /  April 7, 2017

    Anson,
    You would be so dangerous if you had a brain. WOW! That’s some real stinky bullshit you laid on us. I must admit though, it was spoken like a true republican. My daddy always told me, “Son, you can always tell a republican, you just can’t tell ’em much!” If a democrat told you your britches are on fire, you’d leave ’em on and burn to death. Then, in the after life, blame the democrat. Probably Obama!
    I definitely agree with your final point however. Though you meant it entirely as a sarcastic dig, it is by far the wisest comment you have made on this blog. Saying to impeach Trump, then Pence, then Ryan was brilliant!! But let’s not stop there. Let’s keep going. Who’s next in line after Ryan?

    DG

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  3. I have no idea who DG might be. Writing “You would be so dangerous if you had a brain.” does not sound like Duane against me. He hates my political positions but has yet to attack me directly and personally. But if it is Duane, or anyone else for that matter, my “brain is fine” and I have every right in the world to offer my views herein. Duane certainly has never challenged me on that point and I will ignore an impersonator of him if that is the case.

    All I did above was ask Duane, “what next”? I just heard on CNN a pundit say we must now decide “what is the strategic position that the American people want to take” in the matter of Syria, and maybe the rest of the world. I challenge ANYONE to define with any precision the strategy desired by “the American people”. Hell’s bells the people’s direct representatives, the form of government in America since at least 1787 or so, has been the desires of the American people as stated through their own representatives. And Congress can’t decide for damned sure except by a very narrow majority vote, one way or the other.

    My view, in terms of what next in Syria, Iraq and North Korea, is to fall back on the tried and rather true concept of deterrence. And yes, from time to time, deterrence only works if we stand firm on some really important matters, like WMDs, the actual use of WMDs,, not the possibility they could be used, maybe, as was the case in 2003 in Iraq.

    What SHOULD America do, IF,;;;;;;;;;;; Put “Iran stikes Israel with conventional weapons (or even a WMD)?, Add “North Korea strikes ……. (Japan, South Korea, etc.) with similar possibilities of weapons (conventional or nuclear)? I could go on of course and allow others to add their own scenarios if you like.

    How can deterrence be applied in our world today? If such cannot be achieved then what else is available to influence the world at large to NOT “blow anyone up with any kind of weapons”?

    Answering such questions, legitimate questions, is the reason I call now for a full throated Congressional debate. I will pay very close attention to such listening to John McCain and Lindsay Graham go up against the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Schummer, etc. And I won’t take sides listening to such a debate until it is over. I really want to hear good men and women speak their minds, hopefully in a nonpartisan manner, seeking ONLY the best interests of America today and tomorrow.

    Is that possible in today’s political climate? I seriously doubt it and Sweet Nancy could well challenge the mental stability of say Lindsay Graham, etc. or the other way around. I also know full well trying to have that debate in this blog will be nigh on impossible as some will lash out as above, leading off with a critique of my “brain”. Can’t wait to read how General might reply to that opportunity. Duane and Jim Wheeler? I’ll wait and see

    Anson

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  4. Kevin Beck

     /  April 8, 2017

    AB, you call this a knee jerk reaction? Just 24 hours before the bombing, Trump was shouting “America First”. What changed in 24 hours? That’s what I would call a knee jerk reaction. He tweeted numerous times in the past that Obama should stay out of Syria. What changed since then? I have no problem with bombing the planes that dropped chemical weapons on its citizens, but why didn’t Congress allow it in 2013?
    Now this places us in an odd position of bombing both sides of this war, ISIS and now the Syrian government. How do you suppose this is going to end? He went against his own advise from the past. And please, Trump’s claim that the pictures of babies moved him to this? That is knee jerk at its finest when you consider he has been calling the Syrian refugees terrorists for 2 years and blocking their entry as refugees.
    I appreciate you visiting this site, it moves the discussion. But please answer these simple questions without going on a tangent:

    What changed in Trump’s mind in 24 hours to reverse his America First pledge?

    Why did Congress stop Obama from bombing Syria for the exact same reasons in 2013 while also demanding that Congress must approve such actions?

    And now where do we go now that we are fighting both sides of a war?

    If the war escalates in Syria, where do you suppose the war refugees go?

    Kevin Beck

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kevin,.

    You raise legitimate questions about what to do “next”. My recommendation for that is as written above, is a full throated and very public debate about authorization to use military power by the President, any president, in the absence of a clear declaration of War by the Congress. We have been pussy footing around that constitutional requirement every since the end of WW II and that must stop.

    I have been closely following the WaPost since the latest strike. No friend of Trump for sure, the WaPost has been in full support of his actions ordered last week. Now why is that one might ask? Support for the forceful end of deterrence as it relates to the use of WMDs is the clear answer in my view.

    When WMDs are actually used there must be international consequences that make a difference. If any country uses WMDs then “the world” must strike back with force and show that it should never happen again, period. Words alone will never deter abhorrent actions in our world today. Appropriate and overwhelming force must be used sometimes and this was a situation that demanded exactly that action.

    Deterrence with only the threatened use of force will never work entirely. So who exactly in a democracy must authorize such use of force. Obama tried and Congress balked in 2013. You know as well as me that if Trump had let Congress make the decision to use force in this instance Congress may well have balked again in another situation when WMDs were ACTUALLY USED AGAIN.

    Ever since WW II America and the “rest of the West” have pondered this issue of that authority to use force. During that period of time deterrence has been our principle policy to prevent the use of force using WMDs. Hussein used them with no consequences, Syria has used them with no consequences until last week. Someday a non=state actor is going to use them (probably starting with a “dirty bomb”) and even North Korea. Iran, Syria again, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, etc. will consider, at least, using “them”.

    If the world at large and particularly America today, dithers around, debates and reaches another “not this time” decision when WMDs are USED, then forget deterrence. And if deterrence fails, well what next, I wonder?

    Two things need to come out of reasonable (no name calling) debate regarding presidential use of force today (and in the future) and the overall American strategy in the Middle East and Syria in particular, with Iraq a close second.

    How can Congress assert its authority when the President, any president, considers the use of force “appropriate”, anytime? We now have about 7,000 boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, again, with no Congressional approval or disapproval, “officially”. Those cards must be put on the table, debated and decided now, period. Pass a damned “law” if it will. But to strike back at the use of WMDs cannot be constrained to the point that the president cannot act when “missiles are in the air” Should our president even have a “football” with all the launch codes nearby today is a reasonable question to debate. But if American power becomes hamstrung by debate and indecision, well we better start building bunkers again, in America.

    As for our “overall strategy” in Syria, I suggest it need not change. Let Syrians fight it out with their “friends supporting them” as well. BUT, if ANYONE decides again to use WMDs then there goes another airbase, or two or three and anyone (Russians) that get in our way, go away as well. Deterrence MUST work if the world is to survive. OR someone a helluva lot smarter than me must decide to abandon deterrence and put something else in place as a bedrock of American policy against the use of WMDs or even the possession of such WMDs, starting with chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.

    One other point. Americans have legitimate concerns about our current “knee jerk” President. The ONLY defense we have against that concern right now is the 25th Amendment. Go ahead and debate it, in public, as Duane has been doing. But move that debate from one or two (or hundreds) of blogs and put it where it belongs, in our Congress. Go ahead all you hand wringing progressives and debate, with the full authority of our constitution the mental stability of our current president. I will watch, listen and comment when that takes place and my position might surprise you, maybe, but I need more information to make such a consequential decision just for myself, much less the whole country, before I alone would decide that in fact Trump is crazy or even unstable enough to warrant removal from office.

    But when Trump makes a good decision, and he has made several so far, all Duane is going to do is raise the “crazy issue”, again and again. THAT is “knee jerk” to me at least. And for now the “world” seems to be in support of the recent strike but I still await the full throated Dem response as they sit in their closets trying to decide just how “popular” the decision to strike Syria last week might be.

    Finally, IF Assad decides again to drop Sarin gas on his people, who should make the decision “next week” to strike again? Better hurry up and pass another law if you don’t want Trump to “do it again”. Blathering won’t stop him nor should it as long as he has the full support of Mathis, McMaster, etc. THEM I do trust for now.

    Oh by the way, it seems like some in Congress were in fact informed before the last strike. Were any Dems so informed and what was their advice, I wonder. Any insights into that series of communications? I have none, for now.

    Anson

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  6. Kevin Beck

     /  April 8, 2017

    “But when Trump makes a good decision” sounds like you are not fully confident of him or perhaps even rationalizing. Sounds more like a parent that is relieved when our kids finally clean their rooms. Thank God for Mathis and McMaster though, that I agree. That photo of the “war room” leaves me very worried. The attempt to copy the scene for the Bin Laden raid is pathetic, not to mention who was in the room. Trump is surrounding himself with his kids and former business associates, which should worry anyone. Next in line for a position apparently is Gary Cohn, former President of Goldman Sachs.
    While some say it was a good decision, my question was how Trump could go against his own words and convictions so quickly. I would assume the Generals made this decision, not Trump.
    Lastly, what about the refugees now? How can one say he was so moved by the babies, when in fact he truly believes they are destined to become Terrorists? (The only immigrants he seems to like are the ones from Europe, which he is recruiting to this day for his businesses despite saying Americans need jobs, blah blah blah.) My bet is he will not change his position on that one.

    Kevin Beck

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  7. Kevin Beck

     /  April 9, 2017

    This bombing now does not appear to be too successful. Apparently we did not destroy the runway and it is still being used. Trump said that they didn’t strike the runway because it would be easily repaired. Very odd decision to me. I would guess that this will be used to embolden Assad.

    Like

    • I have learned that there are instruments like “runway crushers” and concrete-cracking bombs that could have been used to utterly destroy the runways. But that would have increased the risk of the mission, something Tr-mp has already learned to avoid by his fiasco in Yemen in late January (which John McCain labeled a “failure), which saw the death of a Navy SEAL and many civilians. His poll numbers wouldn’t rise with U.S. casualties suffered while Tr-mp was trying to “be strong and decisive” in Syria, thus the runways remain. 

      Like

  8. ansonburlingame

     /  April 10, 2017

    Both Kevin (good comments by the way) and Duane,

    First, as I understand the issue we HAVE (or at least used to have, I KNOW as a matter of fact) runway busting ordinance to destroy a runway. They are called “cluster bombs” and are now illegal by international law, I think but not absolutely certain on that point. One Tomahawk could fly down one runway dropping “bomblets” to destroy the full runway. But others have used such ordinance against civilians in cities and thus international outrage, etc.

    So if “cluster bombs” are not “humanitarian” then it takes a helluva lot of single Tomahawks to completely destroy one runway. Instead we went after storage facilities, ammunition supplies, fuel depots, etc., big and fixed building that one Tomahawk can deal with quite well, one at a time.

    As for me being “completely confident” in Trump, no way. But I certainly was not completely comfortable with Obama, either. I suppose it is safe to say I am not, now at least, completely comfortable with ANY president, etc. BUT in the selection of Gorsuch for SCOTUS and now this strike, I SUPPORT both decisions by Trump. On the other hand I don’t think he has ever tweeted anything that has MY support, etc. Brash, knee-jerk, narrsacistic, you name it, he worries me a lot.

    I would make this further point related to how much I “trust” any president. It has been almost 30 years since I last wore the uniform. While wearing that uniform I was in positions where “upon orders by the President” I would have had to do some really horrendous things, like launch (or help launch) nuclear weapons. I thought about that alot as a young man and decided, yes, I would follow such orders. Today, I don’t really know how I would feel with my fingers “near” a trigger of sorts or actually on such a trigger.

    You may have seen a comment from me herein months ago that if Trump were elected I would seriously consider resigning my commission in the armed services, today But he was elected despite my own misgivings. So what should I do next? You see my approach today herein, much to the dislike, even disdain, of most progressives. By the same token I would have also very seriously considered such a resignation had I been on active duty while Obama was president as well. One was close to a “do nothing” president and the other “God knows what he might do”. Such are both big dilemmas for men and women in uniform.

    Anson

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