BLOG 391 April 16, 2018

    Last week’s blog was written before Assad’s chemical attack. My earlier response was to President Trump’s quip that America would soon leave Syria. Today, that entire scene has changed. The world currently knows that 40 people died from the chemical attack in Douma. Entire families were wiped in an assault that damaged many, many more people.

The Security Council of the United Nation has already begun condemnation of Syria, Russia, and Iran. British Prime Minister Theresa May said Assad and Russia “must be held to account.” Israel does not typically comment on airstrikes although they have struck inside Syria numerous times. The Israelis may have been involved in a bombing response.

With the US shooting missiles at Syria today, the situation is a front-page story again. We need to make sure we are following the situation and have a developing understanding of the situation in the embattled country. At this point in the history of the Middle East, most critics view President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry as having been hopelessly culpably naïve in trusting Russia to guarantee Assad would eliminate his weapons of mass destruction. Obama’s lack of action amounted to inviting the wolf to guard the hen house while the farmer took a nap.

The issue before us at this moment is the possibility of a confrontation between Russia and America.  Russia continues to be Syria’s major ally and probably the only reason that Assad has remained in power and the civil war not ended. Russian news sources on Tuesday reported that Russian military contractors were killed. In February, four Russian citizens were killed in Syriaby strikes related to the U.S.. Russian media claimed private contractors were part of the pro-Syrian government. However, Russia has yet lodged an official complaint.

Lt. General Jeffery Harrigian, commander of the U.S. air force in the Middle East reported that during a skirmish, the Americans. struck a Russian made T-72 battle tank after they took a shot at the U.S. forces.

However, as of this date, the most recent media reports from CBS, NBC, and ABC have indicated the U.S. attempted to avoid striking Russian forces directly. Should Russian and America become embroiled in a direct confrontation, the stakes rise dramatically. However, it is not currently clear if US missiles have achieved any important objectives. At this time, Britain, France, and Israel are standing with American policy.

Putin might want to think twice about direct retaliation.


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