At the behest of US President Donald Trump, 59 Tomahawk missiles rained down on the Shayrat airbase in rural Homs yesterday morning. According to US officials the barrage was a direct response for the Sarin gas attack carried out by President Bashar Assad’s forces on Tuesday April 4 wherein 93 people were killed and hundreds injured in Khan Shaykhoon, Syria. After performing autopsies on victims of the attack, Turkish medical officials have confirmed that Sarin gas was indeed the cause of their deaths.
As a result of the punitive measures taken by the Trump administration, here are five things we have learned:
1. The Tomahawk Strikes were Definitely More Show Than Tell
First let us understand that the weapon of choice, the Tomahawk missile, is approximately 20 feet long and can carry a conventional warhead of 1,000 pounds. 59 of these slammed into the Shayrat airbase which is said to have been the staging ground of the attacks that killed 93 and wounded approximately 300.
According to the Syrian military there were 12 casualties as a result of the bombardment, 6 dead and 6 injured. A man with an an old shotgun and an angry dog could bring about a greater casualty rate than that, you may be saying? Well the reason for the low casualty rate can be found in the US statement issued regarding the attack on the Shayrat airbase:
“Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. US military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.”
An eyewitness told ABCnews that the Syrian military evacuated personnel and equipment ahead of the strike. Thus only approximately 20 old and possibly out of service planes were destroyed in the attack along with other structural damage. The removal of sensitive equipment and personnel would seem to be the logical thing to do given the fact that their Russian counterparts were tipped off. The US has been known to carry out drone strike attacks against suspected “terrorists” that are clearly in the vicinity of children playing nearby and other innocent people. Their response is, as always, “collateral damage” and “we try to minimize civilian casualties as much as possible”. In reality the US government has little care for children and innocent people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, but went through the great lengths to contact those who carried out a gruesome Sarin gas attack to warn them knowing that they would not only move the perpetrators out of the line of fire but would also likely move the Sarin gas and other equipment out of the area as well. Is this what “fighting terrorism 2017” has become?
Conclusion: 59 Tomahawk missiles used to kill 6 regime terrorists = 9.83 missiles per terrorist
2. Trump’s Administration has no Core Value System
Just 10 days ago the Trump administration was willing to live with the Assad regime and then did a complete about face.
On the 30th of March while addressing journalists, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, “And when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out.”
Likewise Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in another gathering in Turkey, “I think the … longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.”
Then on April 6th the same Rex Tillerson was asked: “Will you and President Trump organize an international coalition to remove Assad?” “Those steps are underway,” he responded. What changed? Some may say that the chemical attacks of April 4th changed the dynamic and thus changed US policy. However, the use of chemical weapons is a regular occurrence by the Assad regime. On the 26th of March, 5 were killed in Latamiya after regime planes shelled the area with chlorine bombs. OGN reported the incident and so did many others. Chemical attacks have been taking place monthly for the past several years. This is known to each and every Syrian in the country. Is it reasonable that US intelligence services know the exact movements of those on their drone list for assassination, but had no clue as to the numerous chemical attacks that have been taking place?
So the question is: What changed his mind? Where was the moral compass pointing when Trump instructed his government to state that there was no desire to remove a dictator that had been gassing his own people for years? And why did he change his mind just 10 days later? Was it because of the publicity that the attack in Khan Shaykhoon garnered? Is publicity the governing force within the Trump administration?
Conclusion: No cameras? No show.
3. Russian Complicity in Assad Crimes is Old News
There is now a push within the Trump administration to make a case that the Russians were at least complicit in the attacks. This is an interesting development. The Russian government is Assad’s greatest backer, how is it possible that Assad is implicated in war crimes and his supplier is not?
The Russian government has been bombing hospitals and civilian homes since they entered the conflict militarily a year and a half ago. Additionally, they continue to fund and supply the regime of Assad who has killed more than a half million people. Why is there a need to search out new crimes? Why the political fanfare? Why haven’t capitals in the US and Europe charged the Russian government with aiding and abetting a terror organization in the Assad government? Or is it that the Russians supply too many European capitals with natural gas to call a terrorist a terrorist? Again, where is the moral compass pointing when it comes to Russia? Are these the people who are credibly leading the “War on Terror”?
Conclusion: blood soaked clothes + natural gas = white shirt
4. Civilian Blood is Very Cheap on the Market these days
“The strike was a proportional response to Assad’s heinous act,” Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said.
I’m no mathematician however the numbers after the missile strikes don’t seem to match up.
Assad side: 6 dead + 6 injured = 12 casualties (at a military installation)
Khan Shaykhoon Residents: 93 dead + 300 injured = 393 (in the streets of a civilian town)
12 vs 393 = proportionate response???
Pro-Brexit leader and former UK Independence Party leader, Nigel Farage said regarding the missile strikes, “As a firm Trump supporter, I say, yes, the pictures were horrible, but I’m surprised. Whatever Assad’s sins, he is secular.”
This is a leading British political figure saying clearly that Assad’s lack of religious affiliation outweighs everything else, including all those he killed. However, the shocking part of it is that no one really called him to account for his statement.
Conclusion: How are these people taken seriously as the leaders of “free society”? Answer: I don’t know
5. Chemical Attacks vs Conventional Killings
Many around the world are lamenting the deaths of those killed in Khan Shaykhoon. However what is not clear is why it is worse to target civilians with chemical weapons rather than to dismember them with cluster bombs? Civilians are not supposed to be targets in the first place. Why so few care when they are targeted using weapons of mass destruction is something I am struggling to understand.
Conclusion: The moral compass is broken