Friday, April 7, 2017

The 59 Tomahawks: not the kind of move one can make a blanket assessment about 12 hours later

What I find noteworthy this morning is the range of opinion on the Right about it. (Haven't seen anything from the Left yet; those folks may still be smarting from the spanking they got in the Senate over SCOTUS-nominee filibusters yesterday.)

Ralph Peters unequivocally thinks it was great:

As I write these lines, I’m unabashedly proud to be an American. Republican, Democrat or independent, you should be, too. Once again, we stood on the side of justice and humanity.
It’s been too damned long, but we’re back.

Ted Cruz qualifies his take with a caveat:

Senator Ted Cruz offered a carefully worded statement with an important takeaway: justify it.
Today, after eight years of Obama foreign policy failures, Syria is a humanitarian disaster. Bashar al-Assad is a monster, a puppet of Russia and Iran, and he has once again used chemical weapons against his own citizens, murdering innocent men, women, and children.
Our prayers are with Assad’s victims, and with the victims of the ISIS and al Qaeda terrorists ripping Syria apart. And, as always, our support and prayers are with the brave Americans in uniform who carried out the military strike tonight.
Any military action in Syria must be justified as protecting the vital national security interests of America – including decisive action to prevent chemical weapons from falling into the hands of radical Islamic terrorists – and I look forward to our Commander-in-Chief making the case to Congress and the American people how we should do so in the days ahead.
That’s not a dissent, but it is careful.
A solidly conservative Facebook friend of mine - against Trump until the final days before the election, and still willing to call him out, but generally supportive of his appointments  - gives it the big thumbs down. Says that aside from oil wells, there's nothing in Syria worth the $50 million we spent on the missiles.

As LITD readers know, I'm pretty much of an unabashed absolutist. I have some core principles I rely on to guide me in all areas of life, and they form the basis of my views on whether something is good or bad. I rarely respond to anything by saying, "I blow hot and cold on this."

But on this matter, I say that there are several ways to look at it.

 There's the fact that the US finally made good on the red line of which the previous president spoke. It re-estabishes the US as the one country with the might, clout and moral capital to really and truly demonstrate that the world does not tolerate a certain level of atrocity.

You'll recall my post from yesterday about how Syria and North Korea having become front-burner issues makes considerations regarding Russia and China more acute. With that in mind, the timing of Xi's visit to Mar-a-Lago is rich in significance:

“China now likely views Trump’s threat to take unilateral action against North Korea as more credible,” said M. Taylor Fravel, an associate professor of political science in the security studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“China may be more willing to take actions, either by itself or with others, to slow the pace or even halt Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs,” Fravel added. “But North Korea is a much greater challenge militarily that cannot be solved with symbolic strikes.”
Any military strike on North Korea — especially against its leadership or nuclear sites — would likely be followed by a counterattack on Seoul that would devastate the South Korean capital, something Pyongyang has long threatened to carry out if it comes under attack.
Youngshik Daniel Bong, a research fellow at the Yonsei University Institute for North Korean Studies in South Korea said the strikes have “generated enormous impact.”
“The missile strikes must have been discussed and decided by the Trump administration when it was preparing for the summit meeting with President Xi.”
These discussions, he said, likely “included Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Mattis. That means, it is not just President Trump acting bold. It means there is a very high level of internal unity among top officials of the administration and the president in favor of bold actions that will bring actual results, not the usual resorting to diplomacy and multilateral cooperation.”
But we are already getting a fairly clear indication of how Russia sees it:

"President [Vladimir] Putin regards the US attacks on Syria as an aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law, and under a trumped-up pretext at that," Pesov told reporters.
And consider that Secretary of State Tillerson recently said that US policy is decisively back to being that Assad must go.

As an isolated viewpoint it's reasonable enough, but the record in recent years concerning what fills the vacuum after regime changes in Middle Eastern countries is not a good one. We should keep that in mind as we take in these endorsements of yesterday's action. When ISIS and al-Qaeda praise what you've done, it ought to make you step back and think about where it all is going.

It's done. It's in the record books now. A major move has been made on the chessboard. Let us hope that the scenarios for possible subsequent moves are being discussed exhaustively.


  1. So we'll see what great peace or war or nothing at all, 69 Tomahawks pounded into a Syrian air base. Could be a wider "war" could not be. Regardless, the the usual resorting to diplomacy and multilateral cooperation will be resorted to again in the end, until it becomes just usual again. Go gettum tigers! Of course some sort of retribution was indeed indicated. I trust it was with as unified an international coalition as possible, but I doubt your ilk gives a damn.

  2. If you read this post carefully, you'll see that there's only any sensible talking about "my ilk" in the very broadest sense.

  3. Hmm, the first rah rah? Trump campaigned against it, now he's all in. I wonder if the can of whoop ass he opened up so swiftly is half full or half empty?

    Trump has walked into a military confrontation that implicates regional and global security with only the haziest notion of what might go wrong. One friend of mine has warned: “If it were good foreign policy, Trump wouldn’t be doing it.” Foreign policy is hard, and even the best process does not guarantee good outcomes. Sometimes you get lucky, and can escape the consequences of a bad process. But the odds are the odds. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, bad processes lead to ugly results.

    Trump Has No Allies

    In his short term in office, Trump has stumbled into quarrels with Australia, Germany, and China. The list of general gaffes and embarrassments is long and painful.

    Unsurprisingly, then, he did not trouble himself to gain allies or partners before the Syria strike. And while Trump has gained some after-the-fact backing from Canada and the United Kingdom, the French and German response has been notably tepid. Germany called the American act “understandable,” but withheld any endorsement, and France did not venture even so far as that. But even from Canada and Britain, there is no inkling of any substantial help. A go-it-alone foreign policy goes it alone."

  4. You may find Kimberly Ross's latest piece at RedState interesting. She makes much the same point - that this was an isolated gesture with no thought given to where it goes from here, or the larger implications for either our alliances or reactions from adversaries.

  5. I envisioned u 3 sheets to the wind shouting Donny Did It! in your living room

  6. The chilling fact is, we cannot believe a word our Commander in Chief said or says.

  7. Now our Blowhard in Chief is crowing about going it alone vs. Korea. Where does he get off on that? I thinketh that ain't too wise. And of course Congress & the rest of the world will have something to say about that, right or wrong!

  8. I'm fwightened, bloggiee, fwightened...very very fwightening, no Alleluias Magnificat in it all for me how 'bout u?

  9. Well, time is running short re" how to deal with North Korea, it appears.

  10. With a madman at the helm, Lord help us all, especially him going it alone. That was never the intention of our foreign policy but I guess you're OK with starting to now, huh? This fucker didn't even try and now he's got our wussy ass navy going after it. I sure wish we had a man like Ike in there now. I do not trust this man or his people at all.

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  12. I know Jared Kushner is the 36 year old son of a millionaire Orthodox Jew who graduated from Harvard with an BA in Government (while netting 20 Mil in the real estate market and earned MBA and JD degrees from NYU, but to overrule Bannon, in the decision that went against what Trump was saying 3 years before to Obama (that he must get Congressional approval which was not granted) and where is Pence? This going in alone thing gets scarier. Yet, I am emboldened by ballsy bloggies who has been panting for fireworks for decades. And if not scary, it's all just plain weird. Saint Dwight, pray for us.

  13. Just maybe the first move should have been discussed exhaustively, that might be all.

    "There has been a rush to judgment over the origin of the chemical weapon attack in Idlib, Syria. Conclusions were drawn with no investigation, no gathering of evidence, no forensics, no independent international inquiry, only charges followed by military action. It is extraordinary that when anyone so much as asks for an investigation they are attacked politically. When a verdict is arrived at without facts how can we be sure?" --Dennis Kucinich

  14. I know you like "many" of his peeps. But I have nothing good to say about either him or his peeps so far. Or his policies. I'm rather alarmed at it all.
    The LA Times (Slime?):

    "Even though we’re only 11 weeks into the Trump presidency, there is good reason to believe that rather than grow into the job, he’ll remain the man he was on the campaign trail — impulsive, untruthful, narcissistic, ignorant of the limits on presidential power and woefully unprepared to wield it. Rather than wait until the public grew inured to the lies, the undermining of democratic institutions, the demagoguery and bluster, we decided to lay out our concerns at length and in detail."

  15. read more on the above, if you care to, at

  16. And all the people working for him are as complicit S any Nazi following orders from Hitler, though you have expressed quite some glee over many of his choices of both people and policy.

  17. You don't like Betsy DeVos? Scott Pruitt? Nikki Haley? Mick Mulvaney? Ruck Perry? These are fabulous people who all are already doing a demonstrably excellent job.

  18. Excellent at what? Facilitating Executive Orders from a tyrant?

  19. At bringing a conservative vision to their various departments and agencies

  20. These people would be proceeding the way they are if they'd been appointed by any Republican president. In fact, the delightful surprise is that they got their appointments in spite of the fact that this is the least ideologically consistent from among last year's 16 contenders.