Syria seems to have shaken off its little air base dusting and is back to bombing rebels (or civilians or whomever they care to bomb). I truly want to believe that the people whose job it is to know what million-dollar missiles can and cannot do were not surprised by this. I prefer to believe they knew that their little fireworks show was not intended to do much and that they were just following orders (to “send a message”–couldn’t they have just tweeted?). This, then, gets to the more interesting question, namely, was there a point to the recent US bombing of Syria and, if so, what was it? Bombs, in general, are always good for presidents. You can almost never go wrong by letting a few bombs fly. For Trump, this may have been a chance to show the Republicans that he wasn’t in cahoots with Putin. Maybe he wanted to look tough for both parties. Given that his initial response was something along the lines of, ‘This is bad, I guess somebody ought to do something about it,’ I doubt this action did much to advance his agenda or follow his campaign sloganeering of ‘America first.’ It did, however, get North Korea’s attention. Boy are they glad they have a nuclear program going full speed, especially with an aircraft carrier circling back toward them.
It’s probably worth taking a moment to reflect upon why the US is so interested in Syria anyway. Although Nikki Haley put on a nice show at the UN by displaying images of dead Syrian children, I think it is more instructive to look at the larger picture of America’s strategic interests in controlling the middle east. America and Russia are squabbling over Syria as if this were a custody battle. It might be a good time to look back at the Project for a New American Century‘s document Rebuilding America’s Defenses. The authors were the same folks who made some pretty good predictions about the countries that America would be invading in the next decade or two. It’s important to note that people like that may or may not be in power at any given time, but they don’t really go away. The deep state is not in a hurry. It waits. It takes its time. But sooner or later, faster or slower, the mission moves forward.