Strike two: Did it work?

Listen to this article

Last night, news broke with the president addressing the nation about coordinated missile strikes on Syria. Normally, I am quick to second guess and even mock the president, but in this case, I think we need to wait and see how things play out. At best, Syria, Russia, and Iran got the message to curtail their support of a leader willing to poison innocent women and children. However, when you are dealing with people who are okay with such tactics, it is entirely possible the missile attack will only encourage more barbarism in the near future.

Syria:  The nation is a disaster and will remain that way as long as Assad is allowed to rule. However, with the open support of Putin and Iran, he seems to be growing bolder once again and willing to go to any measure to take back any land he has lost over the course of his nation’s civil war.  To him, there is no end game other than eliminating any current and potential future enemies, even if it means cleansing his nation of entire ethnic groups. It is not likely he will be dissuaded by any missile attacks. At best, he backs off a bit only at the request of Putin who himself has a complicated relationship with our president.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr. giving the Pentagon briefing for the media.

Iran:  If they can’t make nuclear weapons then why not support a mad man who offers them a chance at a land grab while making life more difficult for the American president? The missile attacks will have no impact on a government that already feels it is being screwed over a signed deal with the previous administration as Trump looks to tighten the screws on Iran’s threat to our interests in the Middle East.

Was the attack a message as much to them to renegotiate what they rightfully do not have to do or face similar consequences?  Will it convince them to stop sponsoring terrorism aimed at American and European cities?  The answer to both of these questions is no.  Should they be concerned about the move to a more hawkish foreign policy under Trump and fear the likelihood of a war? You may think the answer is yes, but before you check off that option, think about this.  How many wars can this nation fight and financially support without it killing our economy?

Iran has to believe the United States is not prepared for such an undertaking and given the lack of real support we had in going after Iraq following 9/11, we know we can’t go it alone.  We need other nations help.

Russia:  When you consider Russia, you really have to consider one man, Putin. He alone will be the person who will have to navigate his way in and out of this mess. He is simply using Assad and the Syria mess to garner a stronger negotiating position with us.  His economy will remain stagnate as long as American sanctions remain in place which ends up hurting the wallets of himself and the oligarchs who rely on him to keep them wealthy.

Putin is currently sitting on a wealth of energy that needs western nations to help develop for sale to keep him swimming in profits. As things stand now, with his support of Assad and his connection to the 2016 election mess, Putin has to be careful.  However, do not think for one minute he would not be willing to sacrifice the lives of his own people and send them off to a war that will paralyze our economy if he feels it is in his best interest.  Putin also knows money talks and as long as Americans feel happy at home with their income, Trump stands a better shot at remaining in power.

Trump:  Wars have a way of making or breaking a president. Vietnam destroyed the Johnson White House despite all his great accomplishments on the home front. Trump has nothing in the way of great accomplishments at home to ensure voter support in 2020.  He risks greatly deepening the already expected losses he will take in November’s election if things escalate in Syria before then.

Trump was smart to take more than the 48 hours he promised the world to respond and that was a good thing. His people managed for once to work with England and France to coordinate a response that tells all parties involved we are united in our stance against the use of chemical attacks.

This begs the question, what happens next if our enemies flash us a middle finger as their response? Will there be a strike two?  If so, will it be a greater response than the first?  Will it target Assad specifically which will add to the chaos already unfolding inside Syria?  Would a second attack target more than Assad?  Would we dare go after specific targets inside Iran?  Would they target Russian military bases?  Will they result in military responses from our enemies and escalate a war no one looks to be able to win?

All of this is speculation.  For now, Trump has responded and says it is a one time tit for tat reminder not to use chemical weapons on your people (I suppose he is fine if Assad uses more conventional weapons).  Only time will tell if strike one worked.

Photos are YouTube screenshots
Top photo is the Pentagon illustration of the attack