Friday, April 07, 2017

We Struck a King

Belatedly enforcing America's red line over Assad's chemical weapons use--and demonstrating the utter failure of the glorious Kerry-Lavrov deal to remove Assad's chemical weapons (but the Iran deal will be much better!)--American cruise missiles hit Assad's forces in retaliation for his use of chemical weapons against civilians.

American ships fired 59 cruise missiles at Syrian targets:

President Donald Trump cast the United States assault on a Syrian air base as vital to deter future use of poison gas and called on other nations to join in seeking "to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria."

The U.S. blasted the air base Thursday night with a barrage of cruise missiles in fiery retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians.

Which is fine. Assad paid a price for using chemical weapons that he isn't supposed to have.

But chemical weapons are a minor part of the Assad killing machine. If Assad stops using chemical weapons, does it really matter?

Unless this strike is just the first step in an effort to ultimately defeat Assad, it is pointless.

Kill the king and his regime.

Oh, and obviously this sentiment is no longer operative:

Here come the giant puppets!

UPDATE: The Pentagon issued a statement on the strike:

At the direction of the president, U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against a Syrian Air Force airfield today at about 8:40 p.m. EDT (4:40 a.m., April 7, in Syria). The strike targeted Shayrat Airfield in Homs governorate, and were in response to the Syrian government's chemical weapons attack April 4 in Khan Sheikhoun, which killed and injured hundreds of innocent Syrian people, including women and children.

The strike was conducted using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. A total of 59 TLAMs targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars. As always, the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict. Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.

The strike was a proportional response to Assad's heinous act. Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian air forces. The U.S. intelligence community assesses that aircraft from Shayrat conducted the chemical weapons attack on April 4. The strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again.

Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.

We are assessing the results of the strike. Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian Government's ability to deliver chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated.

Less than half a percent of the deaths in Syria are from chemical weapons.

UPDATE: More from Strategypage.

Let me add for those who think a year-long investigation by CSI Damascus is necessary to prove Assad did this beyond a reasonable doubt, past investigations have concluded long after the fact that Assad has used chemical weapons.

So even if this Sarin strike is somehow not Assad's fault (and I don't think the persuasion approach works in international relations to this degree--their rational is nor our rational), we've still got a way to go to catch up with punishing Assad for killing civilians with poison gas.

UPDATE: Note that this strike may make Turkey more willing to work with America to overthrow Assad and end Turkey's flirtation with Russia; and the Russian guarantee to thug leaders is lessened as the Russians watched the missiles come in without doing anything.

But this is just one strike. We'll see if President Obama's demand that Assad step down will be enforced by Trump in the aftermath of the chemical attack.

UPDATE: Interesting note: The launch of all the missiles took about half an hour and the early missiles loitered until all the missiles could be sent on their way to the targets to hit in a short period of time.

I wonder if Russia or Syria could see the loitering missiles, giving them a little time to react even if we hadn't warned the Russians to get our of the way.

UPDATE: Oh, and ordered during meetings with China's Xi Jinping, China now has to wonder what Trump would do about North Korean nukes if we will do this over chemical weapons.

UPDATE: Saturday morning I hear a Democratic partisan darkly note that "we discovered" that Trump warned the Russians prior to the strike. Yeah, it was "discovered" because that Pentagon statement I quote in full above told us that fact.