Attack on Syria: What’s next?

Listen to this article

So, Republicans in the U.S. Senate did away with the filibuster in order to jam through President Trump’s extreme right wing, plagiarizing Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. That really wasn’t any surprise. It points out one thing that is vitally different between the two major parties in control of Congress: The GOP will stoop to any means to get their way, no matter how hypocritical and hyper-partisan it looks.

The Democrats, under the leadership of former Nevada Senator Harry Reid, were always afraid to pull the trigger on extreme measures. In politics nice guys finish last. Can’t imagine New York Senator Chuck Schumer will be much different than Reid, as the leader of the minority party.

Will Gorsuch plagiarize any of his rulings now that he is an associate justice of the Supreme Court?

That bit of news, along with the Tea Party nuts looking to strip healthcare from 24 million people, oil and gas pipelines across the U.S. breaking and polluting our land and water, our Secretary of State acting like an old stone statue corroded by the elements, ICE raiding homes here in Southern California and breaking up families — all of that has been overshadowed by the big news that President Trump ordered an attack on Syria.

President Trump announcing he authorized an attack on Syria. (YouTube)

He’s getting kudos from many people, both left and right, for taking decisive action — despite the fact that every Middle East expert says this will have little or no affect on Syrian President Assad’s ability to wage war against his own citizens. “It sends a message,” is the common refrain. And what is that message? Assad has killed far more innocent people with “conventional” weapons than he has with chemical munitions, so what is the policy moving forward? It’s okay to kill a half million people with conventional bombs, but chemical weapons are no bueno?

There are some voices in the U.S. opposed to military action in Syria. They consider the air strike to be illegal. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said President Obama bombing Libya was illegal and Trump bombing Syria is illegal.

California Congresswoman Barbara Lee issued a statement, “The US strikes in Syria last night, conducted without Congressional authorization, represent a dangerous military escalation into the Syrian civil war and are without legal justification. The use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians is barbaric and there is no question that Bashar Al-Assad must be held accountable for his heinous actions. I will continue to support an international response to bring the perpetrators of these horrors to justice and negotiate a political solution to the war in Syria.

“But by illegally bombing a sovereign nation, President Trump has intensified an already dangerous and unstable conflict without a long-term strategy or an appropriate authorization from Congress. Yesterday, I called on Speaker Ryan to call off the recess to debate and vote on an Authorization of the Use of Military Force prior to any military action in Syria. While he failed to act yesterday, I urge him to immediately bring Congress back into session so we can exercise our constitutional duty to hold a debate and vote. Congress has been missing in action on matters of war and peace for far too long – it’s past time for Congress to do its job.”

Couldn’t agree more: It’s time for Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to do its job.

The Russians say they were given a heads up to get out of the way, so that’s good news. We can guarantee the Russians will retaliate in some way, as will Assad and his forces. Since no Russians were killed it could be a new round of cyber attacks. They don’t want to push a hot war with the United States. But the Russian Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. promised there would be extremely serious consequences. Secretary of State Tillerson tweeted, “Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on the 2013 CW commitment. So either Russia has been complicit or incompetent.” The Russians will respond to that insult.

Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad meeting in 2015 (Wikipedia)

The Syrians, on the other hand, lost property and lives. There are 500 American troops in Syria right now and a few thousand in Iraq. Will Assad, who is at least as egotistical as Trump, want to save face and get revenge by attacking U.S. assets in the region? If we could bet on this in Las Vegas, it would be considered the heavy favorite.

The funniest things I’ve heard from the Pro Bomb Syria group is “They won’t even consider using chemical weapons again.” Really? Senator John McCain believes neither the Russians nor Syrians will retaliate. He said, “The Russians only understand one thing, and that is that force is used in response to the commission of a war crime.”

McCain has always had a simplistic view of the Middle East. He’s always talking about arming the anti-Assad rebels, but when asked the big question, “Which ones?” McCain doesn’t have a clear answer. We don’t know which rebel group would be friendly to the U.S. if they gained power and which ones are Muslim fundamentalists?

These are big reasons President Obama didn’t send a military strike into Syria in 2013 and tried diplomacy through Russia. The possibility of expanding the U.S. role in war-torn Syria — and possibly into Iran, which is Syria’s closest ally — was a big reason Obama chose diplomacy over military action. There are thousands of Iranians in Syria helping Assad maintain power. We shouldn’t expect them to remain silent after the attack.

So the questions are: “What’s next” and “How far is President Trump willing to go in this fight? For every action there is a reaction. Assad used chemical weapons once again and the U.S responded with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. Now we have to wait and see what comes next in the Middle East. We can be assured it won’t be pretty. Less than 24 hours after the attack the Assad forces are back to attacking civilians in Syria.

And what about the Syrian refugees? President Trump is willing to bomb Assad after the fact to “save” “beautiful babies” in Syria, but he isn’t willing to accept these beautiful babies as refugees? That appears to be somewhat inconsistent. That and the fact that until Thursday President Trump and his crowd were opposed to getting involved in Syria.

Now, President Trump is considering putting nuclear weapons in South Korea. As if the cease-fire keeping North and South Korea from re-escalating the war wasn’t perilous enough. Several people, left and right, said the attack on Syria was also a signal to North Korea, which is still launching missiles into the South China Sea.

A missile launch from a video released by the Pentagon (YouTube)

Well, know this: if an American missile ever lands on North Korean soil — or even in its boundary waters — there will be an artillery barrage from North Korea into the south, with missiles targeting Seoul, the South Korea capital. That will be followed by an invasion over the 38th parallel and every soldier, sailor and airman stationed there will be in a hot war. There are about 28,500 American troops in South Korea, helping that country defend itself from the North. North Korea, still backed by China, will not hesitate to engage American forces.

Underneath all of this we still have investigations into the Russian efforts to influence the U.S. election. The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, California Republican Devin Nunes, has recused himself from the Russia investigations after being informed that he was under investigation by the Ethics Committee for possibly revealing classified information. Nunes was a part of Trump’s transition team.

The Senate and House investigations will continue while the rest of the world talks about Syria.

What’s next?

Top photo a screen shot from a Pentagon video