One “Mission Accomplished”, mired in many

President Donald Trump as been typically bold or brash after the missile strike on ‘chemical-related facilities’ in the US. Claiming “Mission Accomplished” after a single operation in the Middle East is a big call to make, especially after the ridicule George Bush had heaped on him after appearing in front of a banner in 2003 – the US are still embroiled in related military issues which escalated to Syria.

Trump sounds super confident. It’s difficult to know if he is also taking a swipe at Bush.

ABC News: Trump defends ‘mission accomplished’ after strike on Syria

President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his use of the phrase “Mission Accomplished” to describe a U.S.-led missile attack on Syria’s chemical weapons program, even as his aides stressed continuing U.S. troop involvement and plans for new economic sanctions against Russia for enabling the regime of Bashar Assad.

Stepping up the pressure on Syria’s president, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley indicated the sanctions to be announced Monday would be aimed at sending a message to Russia, which she said has blocked six attempts by the U.N. Security Council to make it easier to investigate the use of chemical weapons.

Trump tweeted “Mission Accomplished” on Saturday after U.S., French and British warplanes and ships launched more than 100 missiles nearly unopposed by Syrian air defenses. While he declared success, the Pentagon said the pummeling of three chemical-related facilities left enough others intact to enable the Assad government to use banned weapons against civilians if it chooses.

His choice of words recalled a similar claim associated with President George W. Bush following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Bush addressed sailors aboard a Navy ship in May 2003 alongside a “Mission Accomplished” banner, just weeks before it became apparent that Iraqis had organized an insurgency that would tie down U.S. forces for years.

 

Trump doubled down.

A mini-mission may have been successfully accomplished – we don’t know what Syria and Russia will do in response – but Bush’s Middle East mission is still a mess.

This limited missile strike may turn out to be a great success, and lead to the end of the Syrian war. If it doesn’t then Trump risks ridicule.

The strikes “successfully hit every target,” said Dana W. White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman. The military said there were three targets: the Barzah chemical weapons research and development site in the Damascus area, a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs and a chemical weapons “bunker” a few miles from the second target.

Although officials said the singular target was Assad’s chemical weapons capability, his air force, including helicopters he allegedly has used to drop chemical weapons on civilians, were spared. In a U.S. military action a year ago in response to a sarin gas attack, the Pentagon said missiles took out nearly 20 percent of the Syrian air force.

I don’t know if there is any way of knowing whether Syrian chemical weapon capability has been wiped out or not.

Assad denies he has used chemical weapons, and the Trump administration has yet to present hard evidence of what it says precipitated the allied missiles attack: a chlorine gas attack on civilians in Douma on April 7. The U.S. says it suspects that sarin gas also was used.

“Good souls will not be humiliated,” Assad tweeted, while hundreds of Syrians gathered in Damascus, the capital, where they flashed victory signs and waved flags in scenes of defiance after the early morning barrage.

Washington Post: Russia responds to airstrikes in Syria with harsh words but no fire

In the hours after American missiles rained down on its ally in Syria, Russia made clear it had no plans to respond in kind.

After all, Moscow still wields considerable control over the direction of the war.

Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, described the strike as an act of aggression against a sovereign state carried out on the pretext of a staged chemical attack. At the U.N. Security Council, Russia called on the world to condemn the United States. But there was a second, unspoken message: The incoming cruise missiles did not cross the threshold that would provoke a military response against Western forces.

Instead, it appears that the Western coalition’s limited strikes did little to change the facts on the ground. Russia, negotiating primarily with Iran and Turkey, remains keen to forge a political settlement in Syria that would cement a long-term foothold for Moscow in the Middle East. The United States, with President Trump’s long-term strategy for the country still uncertain, is left as a less influential player.

Analysts say that Putin’s Syria intervention is part of his effort to turn Russia into an actor known for asserting its interests on a global scale. Russia’s insistent warnings that a U.S. airstrike could bring Russian retaliation — and the United States’ apparent effort to avoid threatening Russian assets in its assault — showed that strategy at work.

Russia will respond or not respond to the missile strike as Putin sees fit. He may be happy for Trump to claim success and withdraw (as Trump has intimated he wants to do) while Russia continues to establish it’s influence in Syria and in the Middle East.

The US has been able to win battles in the Middle East with it’s military might, but the war rages on. As one hot spot is sort of sorted out others flare up.

It may take years to know how much Trump’s mission actually accomplished. A similar mission last year seems to have been largely ineffective.

PJ Crowley (BBC): Can Trump walk away after Syria air strikes?

Former US Assistant Secretary of State P.J Crowley says President Trump will be content to count the strikes as a victory and move on, but it’s unclear if Syria, Russia and Iran will let him:

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump pledged: “If I draw a line in the sand, I will enforce that line in the sand. Believe me.”

A year ago, as president, Mr Trump ordered a military strike involving 58 cruise missiles in response to a deadly sarin gas attack on civilians, and he essentially redeemed the red line that his predecessor, Barack Obama, drew in 2013.

While Mr Trump received plaudits for his willingness to employ military force, if he expected that show of force to deter the further use of chemical weapons by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in this brutal civil war, he was wrong.

Secretary of Defence James Mattis acknowledged as much Friday night, that despite last year’s strike Syria has continued to employ chemical weapons, most recently against an opposition stronghold outside Damascus. Mr Assad, he said, “did not get the message last year”.

There is a new red line, but what is the message behind it? What are the odds that Syria, and its key international backers Russia and Iran, will heed it? And what are the consequences if they don’t?

On past experience it will change little in the overall scheme of things in Syria.

Both Russia and Iran consider Syria, and at least for now Mr Assad’s survival, as a vital interest. Mr Assad’s position has strengthened considerably in the year between Mr Trump’s military strikes.

Friday night’s military action was designed to thread a pretty narrow needle – place boundaries around the war Syria, Russia and Iran are waging – without becoming a direct combatant in it.

The US and its European partners have a narrower military interest in Syria – the defeat of the Islamic State caliphate, a task that is nearing completion.

Just two weeks ago, Mr Trump stated his intention to bring home the roughly 2,000 US personnel deployed to Syria as quickly as possible, only to confront the chemical attack on Douma.

He described the Middle East as a “troubled place” and reiterated it was not the role of the US to fix it.

“We cannot purge the world of evil or act everywhere there is tyranny,” he said, adding: “The fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.”

If the US hits and exits it will leave Russia in a dominant position.

Mr Trump will be content to count this as a victory and move on – he has already declared “Mission Accomplished!” in a follow-up tweet – but that depends on Syria, Russia and Iran and whether they get the message this time.

Of course, the last time an American president employed those words, it represented a serious misreading of the challenge he confronted. But Syria isn’t Iraq. It’s actually much more complicated.

I’m not sure that Trump does complicated – he usually seems more intent in winning battles on Twitter than in the Middle East. Despite his claim of a major success in the Middle East Trump has been busier on Twitter fighting another war closer to home, as illustrated by this bunch of tweets:

Comey is just one problem for Trump in the US war of words, where he is surrounded by the missions others are trying to accomplish against him.

43 Comments

  1. Griff

     /  April 16, 2018

    The only ones who think mission accomplished are trump loyal supporters.
    The ones who would still support him if he stood on New York’s Fifth Avenue “and shot somebody”.
    Those with a world view based on reality think trump has made a lot of noise in an effort to distract from what happening in the legal mess he is facing at home.

  2. David

     /  April 16, 2018

    You have to love his tweets they are hilarious. Am on the fence on Syria but Comey,s book is a disgrace from the top law enforcement guy in the country he sounds like a 14 year old girl full of angst and just way to worried about politics and his own job. The Dems hate him too but he is just convenient but will disappear really really quickly.

    • Griff

       /  April 16, 2018

      Comey,s book is a disgrace

      Have you read it?
      Or are you just repeating what you have been fed by faux news, Breitbart and other right wing “News” sources?

    • Patzcuaro

       /  April 16, 2018

      If the Republicans, Democrats and Trump all hate him you can’t accuse Comey of bias. He seems to have upset all equally, being even handed is all you can expect from the law.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  April 16, 2018

        He’s upset then through lying, leaking and incompetence – which is a little less than expected I would have thought.

        • Patzcuaro

           /  April 16, 2018

          “lying, leaking and incompetence”, you mean he is a politician.

          • David

             /  April 16, 2018

            Comey is most certainly a politician.

            • Gezza

               /  April 16, 2018

              Interesting video interview of a private US Security & Intelligence Analyst by an Aljazeera tv presenter on their newshour earlier this morning.

              He said Comey is acknowleged by the FBI and the public as having damaged the FBI through his protection of Clinton & decision to recommend no prosecution to the Attorney General, a decision that was not legally his to make.

              He also said that from his contacts within the FBI, Trump has huge support from the rank and file who will however not speak up for fear of retaliation, that this is true of all the other security agencies as well, and that it is only the FBI executive which supports Comey or refuses to condemn him.

              The presenter tried many many ways to get this chap to say actually the FBI staff are angry with Trump, but it appears he may have unknowingly picked a Republican.

              It was noted Trump & Sarah are now saying Comey was sacked because of his handling of the Clinton emails, but that Trump after the sacking said in an interview it was because of the Russia investigation?

            • David

               /  April 16, 2018

              “It was noted Trump & Sarah are now saying Comey was sacked because of his handling of the Clinton emails, but that Trump after the sacking said in an interview it was because of the Russia investigation?”

              Comey told Trump he was not a subject of the Russia investigations, but refused to say this in public. That is likely why Trump fired him.

              He should also have been fired for his handling of the Clinton email case. She was never treated with a faction of the ‘vigor’ that has been evident with the investigation into ‘Russian interference’ .

            • Gezza

               /  April 16, 2018

              Nobody’s prosecuting Comey as far as I know & Trump wants to so hard it’s making his eyes pop – which suggests that despite the investigative arm of Fox News have uncovered incontravertable evil-doing by Comey all over the place there’s no actual evidence Comey committed any crimes?

            • Gezza

               /  April 16, 2018

              *having
              **incontrovertible
              soz

  3. NOEL

     /  April 16, 2018

    A year ago Halley and others were saying regime change was inevitable.
    Now May is saying its not about regime change. Is this strike an indication of a Syria pull out by those who have been engaging ina proxy war?

  4. The message has been sent.
    It’s up to the Syrians and their Russian masters as to whether or not they take heed.
    There must be at least 200 cruise missiles on station ready to fire.

    • lurcher1948

       /  April 16, 2018

      lurcher1968(no liability)demolition is ready to step up,no job to big or small.I am FAR cheaper than any cruize missile

  5. Gezza

     /  April 16, 2018

    It’s quite possible Trump didn’t remember Bush said Mission Accomplished until someone told him afterwards.

  6. Griff

     /  April 16, 2018

    Trump’s job approval hits 1-yr high – RCP.

    ?
    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_trump_job_approval-6179.html
    On 03/15/2017 Trump approval rating 43.6
    14/04/2018 RCP Trump approval rating 42,8
    Presently its 42.5
    OMG his approval is falling.

    Gee Alan your math is a little rusty.
    Next time add Nah nah nah like a toddler to such rubbish.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  April 16, 2018

      RCP has the headline (left column), but you are right it hasn’t got back up to that peak yet. Need a bit longer:
      https://www.realclearpolitics.com

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  April 16, 2018

        Looking at their chart in more detail, I see that his approval rating is above where it was 12 months ago: 15 Apr 17: 41.3, but not above the peak it reached a month later.

  7. High Flying Duck

     /  April 16, 2018

    Trump was being literal. They had a mission to destroy 3 buildings associated with chemical weapon development or use. They destroyed those buildings – mission accomplished.
    Anything else is simply deliberate misreading of what he said and meant.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  April 16, 2018

      Looks like a lot of Syria is mission accomplished by someone as there is a lot of destroyed buildings and infrastructure.

  8. NOEL

     /  April 16, 2018

    taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or exaggeration.

    Trump! Nah!

  9. lurcher1948

     /  April 16, 2018

  10. seer

     /  April 16, 2018

    From a commenter at https://syrianperspective.com/2018/04/dr-al-jafari-at-un-blasts-saudis-with-poem-a-wonderful-word-from-senator-dick-black.html

    Jim Stone has some info on why the attack stopped (recall that they had 300 missiles available for this):
    “I am going to stick with my assessment that something big was going to happen that caused the U.S. to stop the attack. All the cruise missiles could report their status to the launch site, and the U.S. was sitting there watching them vanish before they reached their targets. “reporting back” was early 90’s tech, that the cruise missiles had even then. So it would have been ominous to watch them vanish, And then suddenly, Russian planes were in the air, preparing to attack. That did happen, regardless of whatever any claims are. And within 20 minutes (before they reached their targets) it was suddenly announced that the attack which was supposed to last for days was suddenly over, after only about an hour. Something big happened, and no one is saying what. My guess is that Russia made the right threat.”

  11. Gezza

     /  April 16, 2018

    3 minute video shows the strategic position in Syria, how much is Assad’s hands again, who the different rebel groups are, what countries back them, and what areas they hold.
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/opcw-inspectors-probe-douma-attack-180415184620894.html