Various mixes of conservatives and liberals align together and against one another regarding the wisdom of last Friday’s coordinated U.S., British, and French airstrickes on Syrian chemical weapons-related locations in response to a most recent April Bashar al-Assad attack on civilians in the town of Douma.
In all, three sites were destroyed: a "scientific research facility" allegedly connected to the production of chemical and biological weapons in Damascus, and two chemical storage facilities near Homs to the north. Although Syria has claimed that they intercepted 71 out of 103 cruise missiles, the Pentagon denies this.
Just as U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis noted, "We fully expect a significant disinformation campaign over the coming days by those who have aligned themselves with the Assad regime."
The air attacks were carefully planned and coordinated to avoid collateral damage to civilian casualties. The strike reportedly deployed about double the number of missiles that was fired following a Syrian gas attack last April. French forces fired 12 missiles from fighter jets and frigates, and the U.K. dispatched four Tornado jets from Cyprus to Homs.
Turkey welcomed the raids as an "appropriate response." Canada did also.
The precision engagement was expressly not aimed either at Assad regime change or with any intent to extend U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war. Nevertheless, some usual Trump supporters view this action as an indefensible globalist intervention into still another costly and ultimately unwinnable enterprise.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson has challenged U.S. and other Western government claims of certainty that the Assad regime actually perpetrated the most recent chemical attack which left dozens, including children, dead. During his opening monologue he said, "All the geniuses tell us that Assad killed those children, but do they really know that? Of course they really don’t know that, they are making it up. They have no real idea what happened. Actually, both sides in the Syrian civil war possess chemical weapons."
Regarding last year’s chemical attack, we actually do know who to blame. U.S. military radar systems monitored a Syrian Air Force Russian-supplied Sukhoi Su-22-fixed wing aircraft originating from a government-controlled Shayrat airbase on April 4 which flew over Khan Sheikhoun on two occasions. Flashes detected on the ground then indicated that ordinance was dropped on the rebel-held town about the same time that first casualties with breathing difficulties occurred.
On the other hand, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton now admits that the Obama administration’s failure to take a more aggressive action following Asad’s gas attacks on civilians in 2013 which killed 70 children was a mistake, representing a missed opportunity to prevent further chemical atrocities.
A year ago, shortly after her presidential defeat, she told New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, "I really believe we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them."
According to Hillary’s successor, those chemical supplies targeted by last Friday’s raids targeted weren’t supposed to exist there at all. Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC's "Meet the Press" in 2014 that Assad’s declared sarin nerve gas stockpiles had already been dismantled and shipped out of the country. He said, "We struck a  deal where we got 100 percent of the chemicals out."
Secretary Kerry later acknowledged in a farewell memo to his staff, "unfortunately other undeclared chemical weapons continue to be used ruthlessly against the Syrian people." He had also failed to note that deadly chlorine gas which has other civilian uses wasn’t part of the deal. The Syrian American Medical Society and the White Helmets civil-defense group have documented 200 chemical attacks in Syria since 2012, many involving chlorine gas.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, has recently accused the Russian government of using its veto power at the Security Council "to defend the Syrian regime's multiple uses of chemical weapons." She also noted that Moscow had previously agreed to guarantee the removal of Syria's chemical weapons, and if they had followed through with that promise, "we would not be here today."
Vladimir Putin described last Friday’s strikes as an “act of aggression." His Russian ambassador to the U.S. said "such actions will not be left without consequences."
What will actually Russia do? Despite Putin’s bluster, most likely not very much.
Let’s recall that this is the same Russia that is accepted by most Western governments to have attempted to assassinate a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury using a nerve agent, concocted a phony and highly salacious anti-Trump dossier, and also famously tried to influence the U.S. elections.
Instead, expect the airstrike to serve as a convincing message to Moscow, Damascus, Tehran, and Pyongyang that unlike Obama’s faded red line posturing, Trump’s warnings should be taken very seriously.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2012). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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