Sunday, April 9, 2017

Missile barrage as smokescreen

Let's not beat around the bush, folks because that is exactly what the missile attack on the Shayrat Airbase in Syria on Friday was supposed to be: an attempted smokescreen to divert media and public attention away from the seemingly endless cascade of scandals affecting the Trump administration. The Syrian government's prior poison gas attack on its own citizenry provided just the opportunity the administration needed and they exploited in their usual fumbling way.

There goes almost two million dollars.
(Wikipedia/Robert S. Price)
And let's be clear here, this attack was both wasteful and about as effective as a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. A quick check of Wikipedia shows that Tomahawk cruise missiles cost $1.87 million each (and the article cites the Department of Defense comptroller for this number), which means that it'll cost $112.2 million to replace the sixty used in the attack¹. I don't know about you, but spending over $112 million on a political diversion is a wasteful expenditure to me. Think about what domestic projects that could money could have funded.

The attack was ineffectual in that launching a missile strike on a single military base in "retaliation" for a gas attack doesn't make sense. The Syrian Air Force has many other bases that it can just as easily use for future chemical attacks as it would from Shayrat. Speaking of which, the attack was an exercise in futility because according to The Telegraph, the SAF was able to launch aircraft from it hours after the attack.

Syrian warplanes took off from the air base hit by US cruise missiles yesterday to carry out bombing raids on rebel-held areas, in a defiant show of strength.

Just hours after the al-Shayrat airfield was bombed with 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from warships in the Mediterranean, aircraft struck targets in the eastern Homs countryside, according to a monitoring group.

What does the Trump administration do now? Is the White House prepared to escalate things and target the entire Syrian Air Force for destruction? That certainly would be drastic...and not as successful as one might think. If such a step were taken, I can imagine the Syrian Army taking over the chemical attacks. What then? Target the Syrian Army for destruction too? Because I'm pretty sure that would require the deployment of our own ground forces and an invasion of Syria is not something that I personally would like to see. Nor would the American people, I suspect.

But no, it probably won't escalate that far because not even Trump would so foolish as to launch another potentially prolonged and open-ended war in the Middle East when his poll numbers are already so low. No, I think once it becomes clear that the missile attack did have the results they were looking for, the White House will move on to the next diversionary tactic.

¹ While media reports set the number at 59, those were just the ones that actually hit the airbase. Apparently the 60th was a dud and crashed into the sea after launch.

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