Big dicks from North Korea to Iran

While North Korean ‘pre-emptive strike’ rhetoric has ramped up the US has added Iran to it’s nuclear targets.

Reuters: North Korea warns of ‘super-mighty preemptive strike’ as U.S. plans next move

North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear programme.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, did not mince its words.

“In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes,” it said.

This follows multi-pronged verbal attacks from the US.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, on a tour of Asian allies, has said repeatedly an “era of strategic patience” with North Korea is over.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said during a visit to London the military option must be part of the pressure brought to bear.

Tillerson told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that the United States was “reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang.”

And Tillerson has also aimed similar threats at Iran.

NBC News: Tillerson: Iran Left ‘Unchecked’ Could Follow North Korea’s Path

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the United States will conduct a “comprehensive review” of its policy toward Iran, including the 2016 nuclear deal, which he said had merely delayed Iran’s goal of becoming a nuclear state.

“This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face in North Korea,” Tillerson said. “The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear Iran’s provocative actions threaten the U.S., the region and the world.”

Tillerson notified Congress on Tuesday that despite finding that Iran was meeting the terms of the deal, the Trump administration was reviewing whether to break from the agreement, saying in part that Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terrorism.

Iran is closely involved in supporting the Assad government in the Syrian civil war. The US launched a military strike against a Syrian airfield recently.

The US also tried out their biggest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan last week. This didn’t go down well with ex-president Hamid Karzai.

Time: The Former President of Afghanistan Called the Recent U.S. Bombing ‘an Immense Atrocity’

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Monday that the U.S. is using Afghanistan as a weapons testing ground, calling the recent use of the largest-ever non-nuclear bomb “an immense atrocity against the Afghan people.”

Last week, U.S. forces dropped the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb in eastern Nangarhar province, reportedly killing 95 militants. Karzai, in an interview with The Associated Press, objected to the decision, saying that his country “was used very disrespectfully by the U.S. to test its weapons of mass destruction.”

The office of President Ashraf Ghani said following the bomb’s usage that there was “close coordination” between the U.S. military and the Afghan government over the operation, and they were careful to prevent any civilian casualties.

But Karzai harshly criticized the Afghan government for allowing the use of the bomb.

“How could a government of a country allow the use of a weapon of mass destruction on its own territory? Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, how could they allow that? It just unimaginable,” he said.

Since the missile strike and the massive bomb drop the US has launched a war of words on multiple fronts, from Iran to North Korea.

This is a very risky strategy by the Trump regime. The threats and shows of military force may pay off. They could also end very badly if someone’s provocation (from any side) goes too far.

There’s also risks of perception of provocation and unintended consequences, especially if Korea or Iran or Syria or ISIS or Al Qaeda get reported on Fox News insulting the size of Donald Trump’s ego.

The well being of parts of the world, and possibly the whole world, is dependant on the temperaments and self control of a small bunch of bozos, some of whom (on the US side) have no experience with international diplomacy or military strategy.

Big dicks with big weapons are a worry.

Trump gives military ‘total authorization’

At a presidential nomination campaign rally in Iowa in 2015 Donald Trump said: I would bomb the s— out of’ ISIS

“ISIS is making a tremendous amount of money because they have certain oil camps, certain areas of oil that they took away”.

“They have some in Syria, some in Iraq. I would bomb the s— out of ’em. I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I’d blow up the pipes. … I’d blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left. And you know what, you’ll get Exxon to come in there and in two months, you ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies? They will rebuild that sucker, brand new, it will be beautiful.”

But Trump also said:

“I would love not to be over there. That’s not our fight, that’s other people’s fights.”

Now Trump is escalating US involvement in the fight.

Military Times: Trump: I’m giving the military ‘total authorization’

President Trump on Thursday called the recent high-profile military actions overseas proof that he’s fulfilling his promise to let defense leaders act decisively without interference from politicians.

“What I do is I authorize my military,” in response to a press question about the use of a massive bomb in an assault on Islamic State group positions in Afghanistan. “We have the greatest military in the world, and they’ve done the job, as usual. We have given them total authorization, and that’s what they’re doing.

“Frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately. If you look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare that really to what has happened over the last eight years, you’ll see there is a tremendous difference.”

The escalation so far:

The Afghanistan airstrike — the first battlefield use of the military’s Massive Ordnance Air Blast weapon — on Thursday was the latest in a series of large scale, sometimes controversial military actions by the Defense Department in Trump’s first three months in office.

Earlier this month, the military fired nearly 60 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield in response to chemical weapons use by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. In January, U.S. special operations forces conducted a raid against an al-Qaida compound in Yemen that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and several civilians.

White House officials said Trump was heavily involved in authorizing the Yemen raid and Syria strike, but Trump appeared to indicate he was not the final authority on the use of the MOAB against terrorist positions this week.

Some will like this, especially the industrial military complex who get to test out some of their newer weapons in action and will get more business out of the Trump government – the military is one part of Government that Trump wants to grow, substantially.

But if the US bombs the shit out of Afghanistan, and Syria, and Korea, what will they gain?

Assad, Russia claim chemical attack was fabricated

President Assad of Syria claims that the chemical attack that is alleged to have killed more than 80 civilians, received widespread media coverage and international condemnation, and the US used to justify their missile attack on a Syrian Air Force base, was fabricated.

RNZ: Syria chemical attack ‘fabricated’ – Assad

In an exclusive video interview with AFP news agency, he said “there was no order to make any attack”.

Mr Assad told AFP that the Syrian government had given up its chemical arsenal in 2013, adding “even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them”.

Mr Assad accused the West of making up events in Khan Sheikhoun so it had an excuse to carry out missile strikes on the government’s Shayrat airbase, which took place a few days after the alleged attack.

“It’s stage one, the play [they staged] that we saw on social network and TVs, then propaganda and then stage two, the military attack,” he said, questioning the authenticity of the video footage.

He also said Khan Sheikhoun, in Syria’s north-western Idlib province, had no strategic value and was not currently a battle front. “This story is not convincing by any means,” he told AFP.

Mr Assad told AFP that he would only allow an “impartial” investigation, involving “unbiased countries… to make sure that they won’t use it for politicised purposes”.

That is despite international claims that the attack was real.

The US, UK and France reacted angrily on Wednesday after Russia, Syria’s key ally, vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council – the eighth time it has done so over the Syrian conflict.

Western allies have said there is compelling evidence that the Syrian government was behind what happened in Khan Sheikhoun.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday it was “highly likely” the Assad regime was behind the attack.

Turkey, which treated many of the wounded, said it has “concrete evidence” Sarin was used.

Turkey and the UK said tests showed Sarin or a Sarin-like substance was used in Khan Sheikhoun, which would be the first time since 2013 that a prohibited chemical had been used on such a scale.

Now Russia has come in to the debate on Syria’s side.

Bloomberg: Russia Says Evidence Growing Syria Chemical Attack Was Staged

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a chemical-weapons attack in Syria that provoked U.S. missile strikes on the Middle Eastern country may have been orchestrated.

“There’s growing evidence that this was staged,” Lavrov said at a Moscow news conference with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts on Friday. Publications including in the U.S. and the U.K. have highlighted “many inconsistencies” in the version of events in Syria’s Idlib province that was used to justify the American airstrikes, he said.

The U.S. hasn’t shown evidence that Assad was responsible for the April 4 attack in Idlib, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where Putin was attending a collective-defense meeting of former Soviet republics.

The U.S. “is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people,” according to a four-page document published by officials in Washington on Tuesday that contained evidence including satellite images, reports from the scene and details of exposure gathered from victims.

Russia says Syrian forces struck a building where terrorists kept the internationally banned chemical. The U.S. says it has images proving the bomb left a crater in a road rather than hitting a building.

Russia, Iran and Syria want an independent investigation and those opposed to the call “don’t have a clear conscience,” Lavrov said. Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Wednesday that demanded the Syrian government cooperate with an inquiry into the suspected sarin-gas attack that killed dozens of people.

All countries will be playing to their domestic audiences to an extent.

‘Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.’ (Samuel Johnson, The Idler, 1758)

“The first casualty when war comes is truth” – purported to have been said in 1918 by US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson but not recorded.

‘When war is declared, truth is the first casualty’. (Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in Wartime, 1928).

US general discussion

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President Assad versus the United States:

Trump is a brat and the world is his sandpit

President Donald is inconsistent, unpredictable and seems to react to influence from his children, what he sees on television, and has an intolerance of feeling pushed around or found to be wrong.

What he says cannot be taken as a fixed view or position on anything.

RealClear politics: Trump: “We’re Not Going Into Syria”

In an interview Wednesday morning, President Trump promised that “we are not going into Syria,” but said that he will respond if Assad continues to use weapons of mass destruction. He also warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that he is backing the wrong guy.

“We’re not going into Syria,” Trump told Maria Bartiromo during an exclusive interview on FOX Business. “But when I see people using horrible, horrible chemical weapons… and see these beautiful kids that are dead in their father’s arms, or you see kids gasping for life… when you see that, I immediately called General Mattis.”

“What I did should have been done by the Obama administration a long time before I did it,” Trump also said. “I think Syria would be a lot better off right now than it has been.”

“If Russia didn’t go in and back this animal [Assad], you wouldn’t have a problem right now,” Trump said later:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Putin is backing a person thatis truly an evil person, and I think it is very bad for Russia, it is very bad for mankind, it is very bad for this world. But when you drop gas, or bombs, or barrel bombs — they have these massive barrels with dynamite and they drop them right in the middle of a group of people. And in all fairness, you see the same kids with no arms, no legs, no face. This is an animal.

What Trump says here should be taken with a sack of salt.

He had condemned Obama for considering actions in Syria and warned him it would be nothing but trouble for the US if they intervened.

It is very ironic that Trump even seems to be raging against dropping bombs and ‘dynamite’.  Civilian deaths in Syria are reported to have risen significantly since Trump became president.

And the missile attack that Trump ordered last week was ‘influenced’ by his daughter’s outrage.

Stuff: ‘Outraged’ Ivanka influenced Donald Trump’s decision to strike Syria, Eric Trump says

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at his daily press briefing on Wednesday that “there is no question that” Ivanka Trump and others “weighed into him” on the decision.

The president’s son, Eric Trump, told The Daily Telegraph in an interview that the president had been influenced by his sister’s reaction to the gas attack that killed dozens last week.

Eric Trump said his sister was “heartbroken and outraged” by the attack.

So what if Ivanka is heartbroken by something else she sees on TV and influences her father again?

Eric Trump told the Telegraph his father’s decision to attack Syria proved that he is not in league with Russia and will not be “pushed around” by Vladimir Putin.

“If they disrespect us and if they cross us, fine. There will be no one harder – he has got more backbone than anybody. We’re no worse off than we were before. Maybe we’re finding that we can’t be.”

Asked about Putin’s threats of military escalation over Syria, he told the Telegraph his father was not easily intimidated. “I can tell you he is tough and he won’t be pushed around. The cards will shake out the way they do, but he’s tough.”

So if Ivanka becomes outraged and Trump feels pushed around by Putin it seems that anything could happen, as long as it doesn’t involve chemical weapons or dynamite.

Trump is a brat and the world is his sandpit.

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.

UK-EU


BBC: No G7 deal on Russia sanctions over Syria

The UK proposal fails to win support, with the US secretary of state now in Moscow for talks.

BBC: Syria: Boris Johnson denies defeat over sanctions call

The UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has denied he suffered a “defeat” after the G7 group of nations rejected his proposal for sanctions against Russia.

The two-day meeting of foreign ministers was aimed at hammering out a unified approach to Syria before the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went to Moscow.

The plan was put forward at the G7 summit in Italy in the wake of a deadly chemical attack the countries say was carried out by Moscow’s ally, Syria.

Italy’s foreign minister said the group did not want to back Russia into a corner and preferred dialogue.

The Lib Dem leader Tim Farron called it a “failure of British diplomacy”.

Mr Johnson denied he had suffered a defeat, saying there was support for sanctions if further evidence of the chemical attack were gathered.

One thing that did appear to unite the group was the future of Mr Assad.

Mr Tillerson summed it up, saying: “It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”

McCain ‘partially blames’ Trump amidst confused signals

John McCain has been one of Donald Trump’s most prominent critics – largely since Trump attacked McCain during the presidential campaign.

McCain has fired again after the Syrian missile attack.

Politico: McCain: Trump administration ‘partially to blame’ for Syrian chemical attack

Republican Sen. John McCain said Sunday the Trump administration is at least partly to blame for Syria using chemical weapons against its own people.

“I think it probably was partially to blame. And Secretary [Rex] Tillerson basically saying the same thing after kind of contradicting himself and then saying the same thing argues vigorously for a plan and a strategy,” the Arizona senator said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “As I said, again, taking this action I support and was important.”

McCain said the Trump administration needs to have a more concrete strategy in dealing with Syria and shouldn’t treat Thursday’s U.S. missile strikes as a “one-time deal.” He emphasized that just going after chemical weapons ignores how large a problem Syria has become.

McCain also rejected a statement by Tillerson that the U.S. needs to prioritize defeating the Islamic State in Syria before trying to stabilize the country. McCain said the U.S must also be concerned about other reported war crimes by the Assad regime, such as using barrel bombs and starving thousands of prisoners.

There have been many atrocities in Syria during the ongoing civil war – but it’s far more than a civil war, with a lot of international meddling.

“So there’s a lot of war crimes that are taking place. And another aspect of this that I do not agree with the secretary is that you have to just concentrate on ISIS,” McCain said. “We can walk and chew gum.”

McCain is not the only one who appears to reject Tillerson’s advice, with very mixed messages continuing.

CNN reports US envoy Nikki Haley says Syria regime change is ‘inevitable’

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has told CNN that removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power is a priority, cementing an extraordinary U-turn in the Trump administration’s stance on the embattled leader.

Two days after the US launched military strikes on a Syrian airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack widely blamed on the Assad regime, Haley said Assad’s departure was inevitable.

But before Tuesday’s chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed 89 people, Haley had said toppling Assad was not a priority. President Donald Trump, before his election, described fighting ISIS and seeking Assad’s removal at the same time as “idiocy.”

Claims of idiocy have morphed into actual confused flip flip idiocy.

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.

UK-EU


The Syrian missile attacks have blown up UK-Russian relations.

Guardian: Russia hits back at UK and Boris Johnson over cancelled Moscow visit

Russian officials have launched a scathing attack on the UK over Boris Johnson’s decision to cancel an upcoming trip to Moscow due to increased tensions about Syria, threatening to bring relations to a new low.

The foreign secretary faced criticism at home and abroad on Sunday for postponing the visit, prompting his allies to say critics had put “polls and politics above sorting out a civil war”.

With the repercussions continuing from last week’s chemical weapons attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhun and a retaliatory US strike on a Syrian government airbase, the Russian foreign ministry and embassy in London belittled Britain’s role in the crisis.

The move showed a “fundamental misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of the events in Syria, Russia’s efforts to settle that crisis and the general objectives of diplomacy”, the Russian foreign ministry said. “The decision to call off Johnson’s visit to Moscow confirms once again doubts in the presence of added value in speaking to the UK, which does not have its own position on the majority of present-day issues, nor does it have real influence on the course of international affairs, as it remains ‘in the shadow’ of its strategic partners. We do not feel that we need dialogue with London any more than it does.”

Russia’s embassy in London, meanwhile, said it was “deplorable” that Johnson felt unable to meet his counterpart Sergei Lavrov. It tweeted mocking polls, including one that sought views on Donald Trump “as a wartime leader and Johnson as his lieutenant”.

Not a good sign.

A war of tweets is a new way to carry out international insults diplomacy – Trump already has a legacy.

Lining up for World War 3?

Suggesting the escalation in Syria is a move closer to World War 3 might be over-dramatic but if the civil war explodes into a wider conflict it will be too late to quibble.

There are already a number of countries who have been directly involved in the Syrian conflict,  including Russia, USA, Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, UK, France, Germany and Australia.

The Herald asks Are these the battle lines for World War Three?

The US airstrikes on a Syrian regime airbase have hardened the dividing lines across the world in regards to the Assad regime.

They link to MailOnline Are these the battle lines for World War Three? Graphic shows which countries are siding with Russia or the US in their support – or condemnation – of Assad

  • President Donald Trump, 70, launched airstrikes on a Bashar al-Assad controlled airbase in Syria on Thursday
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today praised the American airstrike following the chemical attack
  • He said that the strikes sent a ‘strong and clear’ message that chemical weapons will not be tolerated in 2017 
  • Both Britain and Australia praised the US action as an ‘appropriate response’ to what happened in the week
  • Syria and Russia have denounced it as an ‘act of aggression’ with Putin saying it damages relationship with US

The US airstrikes on a Syrian regime airbase have hardened the dividing lines across the world in regards to the Assad regime.

MailOnline has set out world leaders’ positions on the conflict, which clearly shows the split between pro and anti-Assad countries.

It suggests which side of the battle line countries would position themselves on should the escalating crisis turn into an all out global conflict.

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The MailOnline has extensive coverage of the position of countries around the world on Syria.

The also have a time line of the conflict that began six years ago.


The U.S. attack on a Syrian air base came after years of heated debate and deliberation in Washington over intervention in the bloody civil war.

Chemical weapons have killed hundreds of people since the start of the conflict, with the U.N. blaming three attacks on the Syrian government and a fourth on the Islamic State group. One of the worst yet came Tuesday in rebel-held northern Idlib and killed dozens, including women and children.

That attack prompted President Donald Trump, on day 77 of his presidency, to dramatically shift U.S. policy, with the first direct U.S. attack on the Syrian government.

Trump blamed Syrian President Bashar Assad for the attack and called on the international community to join him in trying to end the bloodshed.

A timeline of events in Syria leading up to Tuesday’s attack:

March 2011: Protests erupt in the city of Daraa over security forces’ detention of a group of boys accused of painting anti-government graffiti on the walls of their school. On March 15, a protest is held in Damascus’ Old City. On March 18, security forces open fire on a protest in Daraa, killing four people in what activists regard as the first deaths of the uprising. Demonstrations spread, as does the crackdown by President Bashar Assad’s forces.

April 2011: Security forces raid a sit-in in Syria’s third-largest city, Homs, where thousands of people tried to create the mood of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of protests against Egypt’s autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Aug. 18, 2011: President Barack Obama calls on Assad to resign and orders Syrian government assets frozen.

Summer 2012: Fighting spreads to Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its former commercial capital.

August 20, 2012: Obama says the use of chemical weapons would be a ‘red line’ that would change his calculus on intervening in the civil war and have ‘enormous consequences.’

March 19, 2013: The Syrian government and opposition trade accusations over a gas attack that killed some 26 people, including more than a dozen government soldiers, in the town of Khan al-Assal in northern Syria. A U.N. investigation later finds that sarin nerve gas was used, but does not identify a culprit.

August 21, 2013: Hundreds of people suffocate in rebel-held suburbs of the Syrian capital, with many suffering from convulsions, pinpoint pupils, and foaming at the mouth. U.N. investigators visit the sites and determine that ground-to-ground missiles loaded with sarin were fired on civilian areas while residents slept. The U.S. and others blame the Syrian government, the only party to the conflict known to have sarin gas.

Aug. 31, 2013: Obama says he will go to Congress for authorization to carry out punitive strikes against the Syrian government, but appears to lack the necessary support in the legislature.

Sept. 27, 2013: The U.N. Security Council orders Syria to account for and destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, following a surprise agreement between Washington and Moscow, averting U.S. strikes. The Security Council threatens to authorize the use of force in the event of non-compliance.

Oct. 14, 2013: Syria becomes a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, prohibiting it from producing, stockpiling or using chemical weapons.

June 23, 2014: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says it has removed the last of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons. Syrian opposition officials maintain that the government’s stocks were not fully accounted for, and that it retained supplies.

Sept. 23, 2014: The U.S. launches airstrikes on Islamic State group targets in Syria.

Aug. 7, 2015: The U.N. Security Council authorizes the OPCW and U.N. investigators to probe reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, as reports circulate of repeated chlorine gas attacks by government forces against civilians in opposition-held areas. Chlorine gas, though not as toxic as nerve agents, can be classified as a chemical weapon depending on its use.

Aug. 24, 2016: The joint OPCW-U.N. panel determines the Syrian government twice used helicopters to deploy chlorine gas against its opponents, in civilian areas in the northern Idlib province. A later report holds the government responsible for a third attack. The attacks occurred in 2014 and 2015. The panel also finds that the Islamic State group used mustard gas.

Feb. 28, 2017: Russia, a stalwart ally of the Syrian government, and China veto a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing sanctions against the Syrian government for chemical weapons use.

April 4, 2017: At least 58 people are killed in what doctors say could be a nerve gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held Idlib province. Victims show signs of suffocation, convulsions, foaming at the mouth and pupil constriction. Witnesses say the attack was carried out by either Russian or Syrian Sukhoi jets. Moscow and Damascus deny responsibility.

April 4, 2017: President Donald Trump issues a statement saying that the ‘heinous’ actions of Assad’s government are the direct result of Obama administration’s ‘weakness and irresolution.’

April 5, 2017: Trump says Assad’s government has ‘crossed a lot of lines’ with the suspected chemical attack in Syria.

April 6, 2017: The U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week’s gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians, U.S. officials said. It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president. Trump said strike on Syria in the ‘vital national security interest’ of the United States.


Wikipedia: Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War

What now in Syria after the US strike?

Questions are now being asked about what may happen in Syria now after the US military intervened by launching a missile strike against a Syrian military target. That sort of attack is generally considered to be an act of war.

There seems to be consensus on one thing – it’s very difficult to predict what President Trump might do. Some may see him as cunningly concealing his intentions, others worry about how erratic and reactive he can be,

Until this week Trump has been strongly against direct US military involvement in Syria. It seems that one gas attack in which civilians including children were killed Trump changed his mind and chose to attack.

Fox News on The story behind Trump’s ’72-hour evolution’

The timeline of the president’s decision-making and the mission itself was detailed late Friday by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and other U.S. officials. The president’s top spokesman described the course of events as a “72-hour evolution” that involved “updates and options and refinements” before a final decision.

“He’s not going to telegraph his next move,” Spicer cautioned, but described Thursday’s actions as carefully planned, decisive and “justified.”

According to Spicer and other officials, the timeline played out as follows:

Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. ET: Trump was informed during his daily briefing about the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. Trump asked his team for more information. The team developed “initial” options.

Tuesday at 8 p.m.: Preliminary options were “presented and refined.”

Wednesday morning: Another “restricted principals meeting” was held where options were further reviewed and refined.

Wednesday at 3 p.m.: Trump was briefed on updated options at a national security meeting. He reviewed them, asked questions, and requested more information – including options for strikes on Syria.

Thursday at 1:30 p.m.: En route to Florida, Trump convened his national security team aboard Air Force One.

Thursday at 4 p.m.: Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and others met in a secure room in Palm Beach. The president “gave the okay” to move ahead. This decision was made at about 4:30 p.m.

Thursday at 7:40 p.m.: Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean launched Tomahawk missiles into Syria.

It’s far too soon to tell if the attack was ‘decisive’. Trump may have been decisive (“having or showing the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively”) in deciding to launch the missiles against Syria, it’s far from certain that the result has been decisive (“settling an issue; producing a definite result”).

In fact Trump has not settled an issue, nor has he produced a definite result. There is a Russian warship steaming towards the Syrian coast in what is seen as an escalation of the Syrian war and a serious threat to already difficult relations between the US and Russia.

The missile strike was merely a small military ‘battle’ in a long running war that doesn’t look like it will end any time soon.

And if fighting does eventually cease in Syria it will be a mess that is very difficult to repair, structurally, politically or socially.

The Guardian: Russia, US and military intervention in Syria: what next after missile strikes?

Could there be follow-up attacks from Trump? And will Russian support for Assad remain firm?

Is regime change in Syria back on the US agenda?

For most of Syria’s six-year civil war the US has been pushing for the departure of Bashar al-Assad, even if former president Barack Obama was unwilling to use military options to remove him.

Donald Trump had conspicuously backed away from that stance, with his administration describing Assad’s rule as “political reality” shortly before the chemical weapons attack.

His team have been careful to present Friday’s missile strikes as a contained response to a specific atrocity, intended as a deterrent to further chemical weapons use. But Trump is nothing if not unpredictable.

Could there be follow-up attacks from the US?

Russia has already said it will help Syria boost its air defences, a clear signal to Washington that further intervention carries a serious risk of escalation.

Will the campaign against Islamic State be affected?

In the short term, the push for Raqqa and Mosul, the final two urban strongholds of Isis, is unlikely to be seriously affected.

Will Russian support for Assad remain firm?

Russia has often said its support for Assad is conditional. Moscow’s desire for a sympathetic government in Syria is likely to be more important than the survival of the Syrian president himself.

Do these missile strikes mean an end to Trump’s ‘reset’ of relations with Russia

Trump came to power promising a reset of ties with Russia, and openly expressing his admiration for president Vladimir Putin.

The military strikes, accompanied by blunt criticism of Russia’s failure to stop Assad deploying chemical weapons, appear to have upended that relationship.

It’s possible that after investing heavily in Trump, Putin may want to try and contain disagreements over Syria and focus on bolstering the overall relationship with cooperation in other areas.

What are the military risks if the US is drawn further into the Syrian conflict?

If the US decides to carry out further strikes, or take other military action against Assad, one of the main worries it that it could hit a Russian plane or soldiers.

What are the political risks of greater US involvement in the Syrian civil war?

One of the questions those opposed to Assad’s rule have struggled to answer for years is what Syria would look like if he was removed.

The struggle to imagine a Syria without Assad was one of the main reasons Obama was reluctant to intervene in support of rebels, and that has not changed.

US ability to project power, badly damaged by the disastrous outcome of the Iraq invasion, could also be at stake, along with the country’s slowly recovering economy.

The US can easily win one sided battles, but it’s hard to see there being any winners in the Syrian war. It is already lost.

A New York Times editorial also asks: After the Airstrikes on Syria, What’s Next?

It was hard not to feel some sense of emotional satisfaction, and justice done, when American cruise missiles struck an airfield in Syria on Thursday.

Americans seem to get satisfaction from showing off their military power.

But it is also hard not to feel unsettled by the many questions raised by President Trump’s decision. Among them: Was it legal? Was it an impetuous, isolated response unrelated to a larger strategy for resolving the complex dilemma of Syria, a nation tormented not just by civil war but also by the fight against the Islamic State?

So far, there is no evidence that Mr. Trump has thought through the implications of using military force or figured out what to do next.

I doubt that he has.

For a man who had campaigned on an “America First” platform of avoiding entanglements in overseas conflicts and who repeatedly warned his predecessor, Barack Obama, against military action in Syria, Mr. Trump made a breathtaking turnaround in the space of 63 hours after the chemical attack.

Mr. Trump explained the shift by saying that he had been so deeply moved by television footage of child victims gasping for breath that “my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”

However sincere this sentiment, the spectacle of a president precipitously reversing course on war and peace on the basis of emotion or what his defenders describe as “instinct” does not inspire confidence.

To the contrary.

Trump and US military supporters may like his willingness to react to an atrocity with a military strike.

But Trump and US military opponents now now he is easily provoked into taking escalating action.

What if there is another gas attack in Syria? Or some other event that is deemed more atrocious than bombing buildings and people to rubble?

Trump has set a precedent, and if he doesn’t react militarily again he will appear weak or inconsistent.

This also works wider than Syria. What if there is a gas attack in Iraq? Yemen? Afghanistan? Pakistan? Israel? What would Trump do then?

North Korea? What easier way would there be for someone (it doesn’t really matter who) to drop a gas bomb on Korea (North or South would suffice) to kick off a war there?

A bomb wouldn’t even have to be dropped, it would only need to be threatened. The White House has already said they wouldn’t rule out a pre-emptive attack on North Korea.

Trump may think he has been decisive, but his action could have very complicated consequences.

Sounding tough, and acting tough, can be easy with single events and reactions. But it has established a precedent that Trump may have a lot of difficulty dealing with now, and not just in Syria.