Now what and where does it go from here?

Where are the positives in bombing Syria?

Sort of diminishes the story that Russia had hacked the election to ensure that Trump would win.

Kind of cuts the feet beneath the Democrats since they are the type of people who actually think a purposeless attack on somebody we don’t like can actually achieve something.

Maybe reduces the use of gas as an offensive weapon in a theatre of war against civilian populations.

Seems to have genuinely upset the Iranians so at least there is something that has been achieved. That there are others that have said good words I discount – such as Britain, Israel and for heaven’s sake, Australia. They are allies and therefore are unlikely to have said a word of criticism in public.

It may have been popular enough to have brought some redemption to Trump and may lead to some improvement in the polls for both him and the Republicans.

It puts everyone on notice that Trump will actually take action rather than let things lie.

Here are the negatives.

It reminds me how lacking in common sense the foreign policy of democratic nations have become. If the same people who support this kind of action are the same as those who put up “Refugees Welcome” signs then the ability to reason about consequences is severely impaired. We are dealing with national interests and protecting our borders and way of life. This is as stupid as “the war on terror” when it is, as Trump used to say, a war on radical Islamic terrorism. Now we are in the midst of a battle to remove chemical weapons from battles. That’s fine as a tenth level issue. There are plenty of ways to kill people, even children. To wallow in how awful it is to see people die this way rather than in some other way is ridiculous. The Allied bombing of Germany killed many many children. It is not a primary war aim, or even secondary, to start worrying about the particular way one side is attacking and killing the other. The aim should be to win or get out. What exactly was Trump trying to do? Completely lost on me.

It utterly clouds the battle lines of the Middle East. Who are we with? Who do we want to see win? They are all repulsive but if the aim is not to see the Islamists seen off as a first priority then I have no idea why we are involved at all. It had occurred to me that there might be some kind of rapprochement between the Russians and US on this particular issue. Russia is no longer an ideological enemy. We have conflicting interests, which mainly focus on European security. But in the Middle East, how are our interests and theirs in fundamental conflict? ISIS first and then we can worry about the rest.

It clouds my initial hope that Trump would become a man who saw the long view and could push back on his enemies. Instead, it makes me think he may be no better than the man (and woman) in the street who bases such momentous decisions on his “feelings”. Really, one can genuinely be sickened at the way the war is being conducted, but national leaders should not be led around by sentiments such as these:

Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror. Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.

If you want to do something about limiting chemical warfare, this is probably not the time and certainly not the place to do it. If this is what Trump is about, he will be not become anywhere near the president I was hoping for. Better than Hillary would ever have been, but not the president I was hoping he would be.

It was thus interesting to read Georgina Downer’s guest post which really is an example of emotionalism without any obvious sense of the broader policy outcome to be achieved. Really, how beyond serious sense is this:

So, struck by the tragic images of dead and dying children in Khan Sheikun in Syria, the next day an emotional Trump announced to the world that, as US President, he had a responsibility to respond to the attack that crossed “many, many lines, beyond a red line”.

The last thing in the world I am looking for is a president driven by sentimental nonsense. Did no one foresee any of this?

Kremlin tells U.S. it’s ‘one step from war’ as Trump warns he will hit Syria AGAIN after his attack on Russia’s ally Assad triggers fears of World War Three

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev denounced Donald Trump

Vladimir Putin has now diverted warship the Admiral Grigorovich to protect the Syrian coast

And now what and where does it go from here?

A COUPLE OF FURTHER QUESTIONS: So let me put it like this: just exactly what are America’s war aims in Syria? And how will I be able to tell when those war aims have been achieved? Here the issue is stated in the way I think of it and the kind of questions that need to be answered before sending the military into conflict:

The outstanding politico-military lesson is an old one: that one clarify one’s aim before one embarks upon a military operation; ruthlessly and objectively dissect and analyse where it will lead, what is to be gained from it, and what one will be faced with when it is over.

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