What was the point of our attack on Syria?

My standard line in response to neighbors fearful of King Donald I starting a war was “Why would a guy who owns $4 billion in real estate want to start a war?” It looks as though I was wrong. The leftovers from the inauguration festivities are still in the fridge and we lobbed $93 million of missiles into Syria.

Readers: Can you explain the point of this attack? How does it serve American interests? How does it help the average person in Syria if the effect is to weaken the government and thus prolong the civil war that they’re having? Do we now have to let in the entire population of Syria (23 million people) as refugees because they can credibly claim to be at risk from being hit by our $1.6 million missiles?


  1. Ivan

    April 7, 2017 @ 2:32 pm


    No point and no benefit to American interests.

    The situation will be, most likely, worse than before, on many levels, with radical islamic replacement ‘rebels’. Just a repetition of what happened in Iraq , Syria, Afghanistan and partly Egypt with its spring: replacement of a secular dictatorship with a more dangerous radical religious variety.

    Sad, but not surprising, really, taking into account the intellectual caliber of the people who rule this country, including the previous administration(s) of course.

    I hope I am wrong.

  2. bobbybobbob

    April 7, 2017 @ 2:58 pm


    Trump just utterly betrayed critical parts of his base and sealed his fate as a one term president. He buckled to the neocons. The ostensible neocon motivations are a bunch of geopolitical concerns to do with oil and gas and Iran and Russia, but probably more importantly Israel wants Syria smashed like Iraq.

  3. billg

    April 7, 2017 @ 3:24 pm


    A business turn-around specialist once told me that when he takes over a new company he fires a few people just to let everyone know he’s serious. Maybe The Donald is just establishing some street cred?

  4. bobbybobbob

    April 7, 2017 @ 3:29 pm


    A turn-around would have been cooperation with Assad and Russia to entirely clear out ISIS, which would take about two weeks. These illegal strikes represent corrupt business as usual. It’s exactly what Hillary would have done.

  5. LeftAComment

    April 7, 2017 @ 3:35 pm


    I think bombing Syria was Jared’s call in alignment with Israel’s stance supporting moderate rebels. Ergo the demotion on Bannon who was against intervention.

  6. mishka

    April 7, 2017 @ 3:35 pm


    I was very much disgusted. But…

    1. The guy is pretty much besieged, his every domestic political initiative flopped. This has pretty much united GOP behind him for the first time.

    2. He’s in China now. He probably wants to credibly show he can do crazy shit if he does not get things his way.

    …and who gives a damn about what happens in “churkistan”?

  7. Jon Awbrey

    April 7, 2017 @ 3:38 pm

  8. Brian

    April 7, 2017 @ 3:49 pm


    Hey, that’s $93M worth of missiles that need to be replaced. $93M of new money to be printed, paid to Raytheon, and spent, spent, spent in the US economy. And Raytheon’s stock is up!


  9. lvl

    April 7, 2017 @ 3:56 pm


    The experts on twitter say something like: 1) See kids getting gassed (bad tv) 2) Gotta do something can’t be a weakling like prof. Obama 3) Pentagon calls Russia to warn, because you don’t want to accidentally start something 3) Russia calls Assad to make sure they move anything important out of the way and prepare 4) Assad takes one for the team and goes on as before 5) Russia calls out aggression and gets into a better negotiating position, warns of provocation, makes Trump look like a big Strong Leader guy 6) but make a Good Deal (TM), end sanctions (?)

  10. Neal

    April 7, 2017 @ 4:01 pm


    I think there is an element of believing their own propaganda in this. When in opposition, Republicans could pretend that more bluster would be a sufficient foreign policy. President Trump, habituated to success through bluster, is particularly susceptible. And yes, this strike, while expensive and painful for Syria, is essentially an act of military bluster.

  11. superMike

    April 7, 2017 @ 6:31 pm


    This is a tough one, because I generally favor non-intervention, but what do you do when someone uses poison gas on civilians? Just sit there?

  12. bobbybobbob

    April 7, 2017 @ 6:59 pm


    Poison gas is not particularly interesting as a weapon. I don’t see why it should matter. In fact, I think people claiming it’s particularly important are being disingenuous.

  13. spl

    April 7, 2017 @ 7:07 pm


    Scott Adams has a hypothesis regarding the point of the attack that appears plausible: http://blog.dilbert.com/post/159300836386/the-syrian-air-base-attack

  14. Sam

    April 7, 2017 @ 8:59 pm


    What makes sense to me is that it’s about energy pipelines, but since that’s not a popular thing to say, it’s about saving the children from nerve gas.

  15. Jim

    April 7, 2017 @ 9:18 pm


    Yes, sends a powerful message, doesn’t it?…they poison their own people and we bomb the shit out of their cracked, half dirt-half concrete air base.

  16. philg

    April 7, 2017 @ 10:19 pm


    SuperMike: what must we do when civilians are attacked? I don’t know. If it is a civil war among people whose language we don’t speak and whose culture we don’t understand, how would we ever figure out who had attacked whom or why?

  17. George A.

    April 8, 2017 @ 10:17 am


    A more interesting question to ask is this: why didn’t one of the Arab countries, such as Saudis Arabia or Qatar send their own jets or long range missiles to boom the bases that the US did? Why didn’t the UN or an European country that are directly effected by the internal civil war in Syria carry out this booming?

    Forty or even 20 years ago, I can see the US steeping up to the occasion, we were a supper power after WWII, but that is no longer the case and many other nations today are as capable as the US to police the word and step up to the occasion.

  18. presidentpicker

    April 8, 2017 @ 3:38 pm


    two reasons:

    1. a stockpile of flares nearing the expiration date
    2. military having wood since Nov 9th

    or, as the chief Warren says:
    “You pass gas, you get Tomahawk!”

  19. Anonymous

    April 8, 2017 @ 3:54 pm


    I would send one per night into Assad’s bedroom if we can’t find his grandchildren’s rooms. We really do have to draw a line somewhere, and there should be consequences for gassing children.

  20. presidentpicker

    April 8, 2017 @ 5:05 pm


    > We really do have to draw a line somewhere,

    the typical hubris the U.S. is known for all over the world. who are we to judge what others are doing in their own backyard? Why do we need to stick our nose everywhere?

  21. GermanL

    April 8, 2017 @ 5:22 pm


    Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump.. it doesn’t matter who we vote for, the meddling continues. You can bet your bananas that Hillary would have done the same thing (with gusto) as Trump, had she gotten into the White House instead.

    As Mark Twain once said “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”

  22. Anonymous

    April 8, 2017 @ 6:12 pm


    What was the point of our attack on Syria?”

    The Russia narrative died.

  23. Mike Bentley

    April 8, 2017 @ 7:58 pm


    To allow the right to say there was no alliance between Trump and Putin, otherwise Trump wouldn’t have attacked a base that had Russian personnel and equipment on it.

    Of course, someone gave the base about an hour’s worth of notice that the attack was coming.

  24. Russil Wvong

    April 10, 2017 @ 1:27 pm


    Babak Bahador, a political scientist, describes it as an emotional reaction to televised images. (Here, Trump is the opposite of the cautious Obama.) Bahador compares the current situation in Syria to Kosovo in 1999, which he’s studied in detail. In particular:

    2. Short-term reactions become longer-term commitments

    Once emotive images entered the fray, however, the dynamics of the debate changed rapidly, with those seeking military action gaining new leverage against critics. In the case of Trump and Syria, policy shifted rapidly with a largely deferential NSC supporting Trump’s decision that “something should happen.” …

    While the policy changes in Kosovo seemed appropriate within the emotive environment of despair for victims and anger against perpetrators, they nonetheless became new landmarks maintained for the sake of commitment and credibility, even though their relevance to the national interest dwindled over time. …

    Trump’s decision to react to the images, while creating a sense of immediate justice for victims, has clearly expanded the U.S. involvement in Syria from a much narrower mission. The call for Assad’s removal will also likely complicate and prolong the war’s end. It may also force the United States into the nation building Trump condemned on the campaign trail and promised to avoid, as certain responsibilities are unavoidable once a nation’s leadership is removed.

  25. david miller

    April 11, 2017 @ 11:52 pm


    The missiles cost 1.6 million but the ones they fired are 25 years old and out-of-date. Think of it as an inventory clearance attack. Now we can buy new ones. Did anyone else notice that the Guardian said only 24 of the 60+ missiles hit the target?

  26. Russil Wvong

    April 15, 2017 @ 4:05 pm


    Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon describe it as the minimum possible response, something like a slap on the wrist – basically going through the motions. Just what is Trump trying to do in Syria?

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