As the Saturday morning quarterbacks seek to portray the coalition missile strikes in ways that support their own agendas it seems necessary to attempt to provide a multi-dimensional view on the strikes. These dimensions include:
· The military implications of the strike
· The diplomatic messages
· The domestic political reaction
In response to the Syrian attack on its own people using chlorine gas a coalition of British, French and American naval and air forces launched missile attacks against 3 chemical production and storage facilities. The objective of the attack was two fold:
1. Seriously degrade/reduce Syria’s chemical weapons capability
2. Deter Syria from future chemical weapon usage
Reports indicate that the missiles hit and severely damaged their targets. The ability and methodology used for the attacks indicate the ability to synchronize target engagement between multiple platforms and national assets. The US attacks came from naval forces in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean ocean. Air assets launched missiles while over Saudi Arabia and the Mediterranean. While launching the missiles each element of the attacking force took air defense, naval and cyber efforts to protect the force. Reportedly all missiles hit their targets while the Syrian missile defense efforts were an abysmal failure. The Syrians reportedly launched over 40 air defense missiles and none of them successfully engaged a target. (The Russian disinformation campaign reported that there were 103 missiles and 71 shot down.)
Militarily the mission was accomplished. However, some pundits are seeking to use this description of the reaction was to be expected as no matter what President Trump and our allies do there will be detractors who are looking for opportunities to speak against the President.
The diplomatic messages of this strike go far beyond the Syrian government. The clear pronouncement that the intent was not to target Syrian President Assad tells Kim Jung Un of North Korea that the US can accomplish its military objectives without necessarily threatening the regime leadership. (This is not to say that decapitation isn’t an option.) With the upcoming denuclearization discussions between President Trump and Kim Jun Un it is clear that Kim not necessarily feel personally threatened.
The preparations for the North Korea / United ‘States historic meeting are ongoing using multiple different avenues for the preparation of the meeting. Reportedly CIA Director/Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo is leading the back channel preparatory talks. The summit will follow a meeting between Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart.
Israel is touting the strikes as a message for Hezbollah and Hamas.
Russia is certainly evaluating President Trump’s resolve to not condone chemical weapon usage. The same is true for Iran as the May Iran nuclear agreement review approaches. John Bolton’s appointment as the National Security Advisor also tends to show an increased hardline by the administration on the major issues facing the United States. Certainly potential adversaries are viewing this whole set of events as a new entity.
The continuing fight against ISIS may have had an unintentional consequence. The net winner of ISIS’s destruction is clearly President Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies. The anti- Assad forces were not capable of filling the vacuum created by the damage to ISIS. The continuing conflict in the region is extremely complex given all of the players. This has been a subject of previous articles and one that we will return to in the future.
True to form the hard left politicians like Nancy Pelosi are condemning the attacks as uncivilized. This condemnation is to be expected. The other side of the aisle has been supportive the attacks. However, there seems to be a universal return to the discussion of the war fighting powers of the President. This is a continual power struggle between the executive and the legislature. This debate is probably more posturing than reality but may continue for several weeks and then return to its traditionally dormant status.
The attack against Syria may be the opening gambit in several future conflicts–Russia‘s desire to increase its posture in the Middle-East, Iran’s goal of forming a Caliphate across the region and its conflict with the Gulf Cooperative Council, and Israel’s continual struggle for survival. These are all issues we will be watching closely.
According to news reports there are over 1000 Hondurans, who are being assisted by the Mexican Government moving in formation to invade the United States and demand amnesty. This tragedy is most likely funded by far left political activists such as George Soros. Their most likely goal is to embarrass President Trump.
The organizers of this invasion probably feel that they are in a win-win situation. If they successfully breach the border the US will have no option but to care for them and eventually grant them amnesty. If they are stopped the organizers see a net win for the total amnesty supporters as public opinion will be aroused and with the midterm elections coming the political pressure to give in will be horrendous.
One can count on the media portraying these invaders as poor people looking for work and if any of them are harmed they will seek compensation from mean old United States.
To date the Trump administration has only played the Obama game—talking tough but not doing anything. The threats against NAFTA may momentarily give the Mexican government pause, but not for long.
Since even the Associated Press is calling this an invasion, the President should treat it as such. It would be very easy to deploy helicopters and infantry to form a ready reaction force against the invaders. With drone provided intelligence the defending forces could react to any movement towards the border and form a physical force to meet the invaders on the border. Additionally, using helicopters and cargo planes food supplies could be dropped behind the invaders as an incentive to turn around. Finally a detention facility with tents and barbed wire could be quickly established for anyone who might leak through. This facility should be very bare bones, not the typical elegant jails that the US normally puts such folks in. Invaders should be taken from the detention facility to a port of embarkation for the return to Honduras. No legal niceties need apply–they are invaders.
Coupled with the physical barrier and humanitarian food supplies a psychological campaign should be waged to influence the invaders to turn around.
On the economic from the border should be closed to goods coming from Mexico or there should be a huge tax on them to pay for the repelling of the invasion.
Finally, intelligence sources should pin point the leadership and funding of the operation and take appropriate action to neutralize them while documenting their use of poor Hondurans for their agenda.
This whole invasion is a political ploy and should be dealt with by the use of stern, unrelenting but humanitarian efforts. Political and economic action should accompany the act of repelling the invasion.