OK Mr Trump Bomb Syria – Then What?

Christopher Lee Says – wwwforeignpolicy.org.uk

13 April 2018

Why would President Trump risk starting WWIII because 50 people were killed in a place in Syria most of us had never heard of? The answer is because those men, women and children were killed, apparently, with chemicals.

About every couple of weeks half as many again Syrians – say 75 – are killed when a 500b bomb is dropped on them. Also, the bomb creates more chaos and maims more Syrians. The logical behaviour pattern of war is cock-eyed. Downing Street and the White House declare that the use of chemical weapons in Douma must not go unchallenged.

Chemical weapons kill far fewer than conventional ordnance. The arithmetic of war is unsound this week.

There is too a well-known wonkiness in Trump-speak when maybe emboldened by the consequences of the North Korean affair, he tells Russia and Syrian to look out — the smart missiles are on notice to go.

The rhetoric even winds up America’s allies. The British Prime Minister for example, immediately calls Washington and assures President Trump that she is making sure Britain is right behind him. Alongside rather than behind might be a better reassurance, but never mind. The mood is fine and Mrs May is reassured that the UK and not France is America’s Number One Ally.

More importantly, Mrs May’s reason for seemingly without any strategic military understanding of the consequences proposed by President Trump feels forced into an instant declaration of loyalty to Trump Cause because her single most important ambition is to guarantee special trade status with the USA after March next year. Who would have thought the deaths of 50 in Douma had a Brexit connection?

And then his generals go into the Oval Office and ask him what he plans to do when a miscalculation means one of those American smart missiles kills another 50 Syrians and perhaps does it again and again during the first night’s salvo.

Moreover, what will he do when Russians in an armoured vehicle or a command centre are blown away and Moscow presses the revenge button. And how many letters in his Tweet does he need to explain to even the people of Lake Wobegone Minnesota that rather than pulling out of the Middle East (as he promised two weeks back) America is now in a powerful war that can probably only end in America’s humiliation.

In other words, it’s not the shock’n’awe of the missile strikes but the what-happens-next that matters. Given that the chemical warfare inspectors are going into Syria this weekend an attack is unlikely during the coming 48 hours. Perhaps Trump’s generals can use the time to really get him to answer the question: Okay Mr President we can put 1200 missiles into Syrian by next Friday. But then what would you have us do? Time to Tweet a different crisis Mr Trump?

Could be, the generals might argue with spirit and could be that the Russians are already sending private signals to this end.

Last night, the emergency lines between Russian and American commands were switched on. There are there to avoid miscalculation. They do not always work. Fingers crossed.

 

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