The American media and many American political leaders, Republicans and Democrats, are a complete disgrace as they have cheered Donald Trump's illegal and unjustified order to launch cruise missiles against a backwater Syrian Air Force outpost. The American public are being sold a profound and dangerous lie via a massive propaganda campaign that, without one shred of empirical evidence, insists that the Air Force of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dropped a chemical weapon for the express purpose of killing civilians. That did not happen. There is no intelligence supporting this claim by the Trump Administration. But it is not just Donald Trump who is lying. He is being enabled and facilitated by his National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, and the Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, and the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.
Donald Trump has now out done George W. Bush and his cast of fools, who launched an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq in March of 2003. At least Bush had enough sense to get UN and Congressional approval for his insanity. Not Trump. The simpleton simply watched Fox News and then gave the order to launch TLAMs. We did not see a single senior officer resign and speak out in protest over this fraud. They simply saluted and then carried out an unlawful order. The United States had not been attacked by Syria and was not threatening to attack us.
When the likes of John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and John McCain think Trump is doing the right thing, you don't need any other evidence that the Trump Administration has gone off the rails. Trump persuaded many of the people that voted for him that he would not engage in the failed foreign nation building carried out by his predecessors--Bush and Obama. He has now betrayed that movement. And he is an utter fool if he thinks that this will placate the Democrats who oppose him and ease the pressure to block his agenda.
What is really so disturbing about all of this is that the TLAM strike was meaningless and ineffective. It did not shut down the Syrian airfield. It did not destroy any significant Syrian Air assets. But it did create a real friction between the United States and Russia who, up to an hour before we launched the cruise missiles, were in regular contact to deconflict air missions that were going after terrorist targets. Let me repeat that--for at least the last 80 days, the United States and Russia military field commanders have been in regular contact, which has included exchanging intelligence and making sure that we do not fly into one another's air space.
Our unilateral action on Thursday has put that coordination in jeopardy. But that is not the only risk we are facing. If the Russians and the Syrians decide to start shooting down U.S. military and CIA drones operating over Syria there will be great political pressure to retaliate. Such an action, especially if done in the heat of the moment, carries the significant risk of escalating into a war between the United States and Russia. No one in the Trump Administration has given that scenario serious consideration. They still believe they are playing a video game.
For now, Russia and Syria appear content to continue their effort to wipe out the Islamists. As long as the United States does not interfere with that plan then the Russian and Syrian Generals appear willing to let Donald Trump enjoy his fantasy that he is being the tough guy. Let's be clear what Donald Trump is--he is an egotist of the first order. He loves being praised for being "strong and decisive." He is not ready to hear that he is a joke and that his action did not cower the the Syrians or Russians one little bit. Trump reminds me of the fat drunk sitting in a bar and indulging the Walter Mitty myth that he is a cage fighter. Rather than keep sipping his whiskey he decides to start throwing punches without first taking measure of who he is hitting.
America is a bit of a paper tiger at the moment. Don't take my word for it. That is the message from our military leaders to Congress a few weeks back:
- Army: Of 58 total brigade combat teams (the Army’s main combat building block), only three are considered ready for combat.
- Navy: The Navy’s fleet is the smallest it has been in nearly 100 years. This makes ship repairs harder to complete, as those vessels are needed on the waterways
- Marine Corps: Eighty percent of Marine aviation units do not have even the minimum number of aircraft they need for training and basic operations.
- Air Force: The Air Force is the smallest and, in terms of many of its aircraft, oldest it has ever been. The service had 8,600 aircraft in 1991 while today it only has 5,500, and those aircraft are an average of 27 years old. Worse, fewer than half of those aircraft are prepared to take on and defeat our adversaries.
If Russia decides to call our bluff and escalate things Trump will likely preside over a public humiliation that will explode America's military delusions of grandeur.
Donald Trump was correct to criticize the stupid decision of George W. Bush to start an unnecessary war in Iraq. That ill-fated decision may have initially bought Bush some political cheering at home, but he opened a serpent's nest that unleashed the chaos that is now ruling the region. Bush's failure to secure the peace and restore a stable government cost him his legacy. Most of America does not give one rat's ass about the Middle East. Let 'em burn is the general attitude. Trump has bought the equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge. How many days or weeks before he discovers that he bought a fraud?