How many Syrian refugees do you think we could we have relocated to the United States for the cost of those 59 pointless Tomahawk missiles, which retail for about $1.6 million each?

Last night, after returning home from a quick trip to see my 92 year old grandmother in Kentucky, my plan was to stay up late and hammer out an angry post about the ineffective sham of an attack the Trump administration launched against the regime of Syria’s Bashar Assad this weekend. Unfortunately, though, when we arrived home from our trip, we discovered that our seven year old refrigerator had decided to die on us, which meant that I’d be spending my evening filling trashcans with what had been frozen leftovers, and scrubbing mold, instead of ranting about how Trump, who, by the way, until recently lashed out at anyone who even proposed air strikes against the Assad regime, reached out to the Russians before dropping nearly $100 million worth of Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, telling them exactly when and where to expect the attack.

Yes, Russia was notified of our air strike against Addad’s Shayrat Air Base in advance, while members of the U.S. Congress were not.

I can understand why a country might want to give the Russians a heads-up, as there might be a significant international incident if one of their people on the ground in Syria got killed during an attack, but, really, what’s the point of launching an attack against Assad’s forces when there’s a near certainty that they’ll be tipped off by the Russians and just relocate their planes and personnel prior to the bombing?

I’m not suggesting that no action should have been taken, but, really, what could we possibly expect to achieve when we tell the Russians, who, according to reports, had people working at the Shayrat Air Base on the very day that Assad launched this most recent chemical attack, killing 80 of his own people, before launching our missiles?

Speaking of Russian involvement in Syria, here’s something to chew on. While I don’t know what evidence exists, I think it’s important to note that, according to some in the intelligence community, the Russians weren’t just on the ground in Syria, at the air base from which Assad’s chemical attacks were launched, but also assisted in the bombing of the hospital where the bodies of the victims were taken. According to Politico, “Russian air assets may have been over the site of the chemical attack when it occurred, and a Russian drone scouted a hospital treating the victims of the sarin attack just before it was bombed — possibly to destroy evidence of the attack.”

But bombs translate better to television than diplomacy and sanctions, right?

Perhaps more importantly, though, it doesn’t sound as though the 59 missiles we deployed did much to impede Assad’s ability to wage war on his fellow Syrians.

I know Fox News said our attack was an incredible success, but everything else I’ve read makes it sound as though we didn’t even hit the airstrip, and that Assad’s forces were flying missions from that very base later that same day… Trump, for what it’s worth, took to Twitter after the attack to say that they’d purposefully not targeted the airstrips. “The reason you don’t generally hit runways,” he said, “is that they are easy and inexpensive to quickly fix (fill in and top)!” Whether or not there’s any truth to that, your guess is as good as mine. Given his track record, though, I’d say it’s likely bullshit.

Speaking of Fox News, I was watching it with my family the day after our missiles rained down, and the network’s anchors were absolutely beside themselves, talking enthusiastically about how decisive Trump had been, and how awesome it was to have a real president in the White House again, instead of someone like Obama, who was too afraid to take action… forgetting to mention, of course, that when Obama had tried to launch an attack against Assad in 2013, after another instance of his having poisoned his own people, the Republican-controlled Congress stopped him. But apparently facts aren’t important… All that’s important is that we got to see some bombs fall, and now no one is talking about the sexual predators that run Fox News, or the fact that one of the Russians suspected of hacking our election was just arrested in Madrid at the behest of U.S. investigators.

But Putin and Assad were nice enough to hand this gift to the Trump administration just when the needed it most, so now we’re all fawning over the incredible show of force in the Syrian desert. Maybe it wasn’t intended as such. It’s hard to imagine a better timed gift for Trump, though.

OK, I have to get back to cleaning the refrigerator now… Before I go, though, I’ve got one question…

How many Syrian refugees do you think we could we have relocated to the United States for the cost of those 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, which retail for about $1.6 million each?

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  1. Meta
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Bombing Syria changed the national conversation, but the Russia investigation continues.

    From Newsweek.

    Spanish police have arrested a Russian hacker accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election at the request of U.S. authorities.

    Pyotr Levashov was arrested in Barcelona on 7 April on a U.S. computer crimes warrant, according to a spokeswoman for Spain’s National Court who wished to remain anonymous, the Associated Press reported.

    Levashov’s wife, Maria, told Russian media that police stormed the apartment they were staying in on vacation over allegations that her husband created a computer virus that was “linked to Trump’s election win.” She said her husband was being held “ at the request of the American authorities in connection with cybercrime.”

    U.S. intelligence agencies claimed in January 2016 that Russian hackers had broken into the servers of the Democratic National Convention and obtained emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. The emails were later published by Wikileaks.

    The FBI is currently investigating allegations of Russian influence on the result of the U.S. election, though Moscow has denied the claims.

    Read more:

  2. Max
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Trump doesn’t care about kids being gassed. He couldn’t afford his approval rating to go into the 20s and needed a diversion from Russiagate. At least it doesn’t look like his approval got any discernable bump from our bombing and the investigation(s) aren’t going to just go away.

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Simplistic but effective narrative. Present a false choice with an easy answer: House refugees or drop bombs, that effectively paints the person who chooses humanitarian aid as a good person, and those who choose military intervention as bad. The bombing should be criticized for its ineffectiveness (and how ineffective is not yet clear) but to criticize it in a false choice of peace v war (those are NOT our choices now if we are going to meet our responsibilities.

    Instead of using Syrian refugees as the poster children for liberal self-righteous assertion, maybe interview a few. From what I can gather, you will find a wide ranging spectrum of views on this action. Maybe try not to use them for purposes of ideological flag waving (and self-distancing) without meeting up with a few?

    The far left is really as far out to lunch as the right on this:

  4. Kim
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Jean, I suspect Mark was trying to get at the fact that Trump doesn’t really care about the kids who are being gassed. If he did, he’d accept Syrian refugees. Instead he put on a pyrotechnics show.

  5. Jean Henry
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Trump’s bombing of Syria may have been a means to divert attention away from the Russian collusion allegations, but it also represented a REVERSAL of Trump’s previous stance on Russia and Assad. It was the strategic initiative of McMasters and was very much supported by the broader FP community. Bannon left the NSC over this… Hillary Clinton suggested bombing airstrips a month ago. The chemical attacks just provided legality for action without congressional approval.

    Simplistic narratives about FP are the climate denial of the left. This stuff is not easy.

    The humanitarian crisis –refugees– that everyone is upset about is a direct result of this 7 years long war going on for far too long— due to Obama’s inaction in Syria. (YES, I know, the whole thing was started by Bush’s war mongering… but it was greatly exacerbated by Obama’s failure to act. Obama’s policy of no policy in Syria was a disaster. His handing off Syria to a broader international coalition opened the door toRussia’s heinous involvement. And the left needs to own that. But the love not bombs narrative continues. As though diplomacy can happen without the real possibility of military intervention…

    Yes, Obama asked congress for permission to respond to chemical attacks— As a dodge. He was calling the GOP bluff. The American people at the time wanted no more involvement. The political cost of action at the time was too high. He had no intention of going in. He used the vote as a means to negotiate with Syria to destroy their chemical weapons stockpile and end further development.

    If anything, the chemical attack by Assad on his own people, showed the limits of diplomacy…

    These ideas are complicated. Boo War. I’m for Peace! Yay me!

    “It’s in the democratic citizen’s nature to be like a leaf that doesn’t believe in the tree it’s part of.” –DFW

  6. Jean Henry
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    This is a good piece of criticism on the attack’s capacity to realize its cloudy objectives and on overall the pattern of reliance on limited strategic attacks and the mission creep that tends to follow:

  7. Kim
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I’ll read the post again, but I don’t think Mark said “Boo War. I’m for Peace.” He believe he said that the bombing was ineffective by any measure.

  8. anonymous
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Obama taking with Jake Tapper about the complexity of the situation Syria.

  9. Jean Henry
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    The last line was the point I am most critical of: That contrasting money spent on tomahawk missiles to refugee aid is anything but ideological posturing a self distancing.

    My other criticism is leaving Obama off the hook.

    Lastly, I very much object to using Syrian refugees as poster children for political messaging. They, I’m sure, have a lot to say themselves about the subject and can easily be reached through Jewish Community Services in Ann Arbor. There is a reason for the standard of keeping ideology out of FP decision making or critique. Mark was very string about this re Bannon. Political posturing should not play into FP positions. Good luck with that… I know.

    I’m totally fine with Mark saying the plan was ineffective– and said so. It likely was. We won;t know for sure for a while. Here is a very good piece criticizing the effectiveness of the campaign.

  10. Lynne
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    I think it is perfectly acceptable to point out opportunity costs when critiquing ANY government program or action. This ineffective strike wasn’t cheap. Would we have had more of an impact if we used the money in other ways?

    I fully support a stance of minimal military involvement unless such involvement can aceive positive results. The thing is though that US military involvement in the region usually makes things worse. One of my bigger fears with Clinton was that she would be prone to military intervention in Syria but I voted for her anyways knowing that Trump would be just as bad or worse. He just validated that feeling. If I hesitated because of a worry that she would be too hawkish, it seems clear now more than ever that Trump is worse.

    I keep thinking, even without much evidence, that this is smoke and mirrors and was designed, possibly in cahoots with Russia, to deflect from investigations into Russian election influence. I shudder to think of the war he will start if seriously damning evidence is found

  11. EOS
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I don’t think the intent of the Tomahawk missiles was to inflict damage as much as it was a warning to any group that might consider using poison gas. And I don’t think refugees should be relocated unless they value our system of government and want to assimilate into our culture. Don’t think it was right to start an insurrection within Syria and wish we weren’t funneling money and arms to terrorists groups in order to overthrow a sovereign nation. This war pits Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah against ISIS and Al Qaida with the Gulf States financing a war within the war. There’s no good outcome.

  12. Frosted Flakes
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    All things considered, I have no problem with us spending 100 million dollars on the fake missile strike.

  13. Lynne
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    FF, how very American of you. LOL Seriously though, Americans have a problem when it comes to military intervention

  14. Demetrius
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Regional and tribal conflicts in the Middle East have existed for thousands of years, but what’s driving most of the bloodshed in the region today (Syria included) is an insatiable desire for oil.

    While Syria itself is not a major oil producer (#64, behind such countries as Trinidad and even Poland …) – it is located directly between some of the world’s largest oil producers (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, etc.) and Europe – meaning the country IS strategically important in terms of current and future pipelines. Any attempt to interpret the shifting power relations in the region needs to begin with that understanding.

    Despite Trump’s claims that he ordered the bombing to defend “children of God” from unspeakable atrocities, it is worth remembering that this is the very same man just announced that he is cancelling fuel economy standards for automobiles, etc. … and who just appointed the head of ExxonMobil as his Secretary of State!

    The United States certainly isn’t the only country that has meddled in this region, but our unquenchable thirst for cheap, unlimited oil is definitely the underlying reason for much of the exploitation, war, instability, and mass migrations of refugees that have wracked the region for the past 50-60 years.

    No matter how many missiles we *don’t* send, we will never be able to afford to re-settle all these refugees we’ve helped create … but we COULD dramatically reduce our dependence on oil, untangle ourselves militarily from the region, and actively help the people who are left behind to stabilize and rebuild their own communities and regions.

    Of course, doing that would require having real commitment, a long-term strategic plan, and a rational government capable of explaining the plan and carrying it out. It might also require Americans to pay more per gallon at the pump … which is clearly politically unacceptable, and in the eyes of many, “un-American” … therefore, here we are.

  15. Jcp2
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    EOS has good points. Also, oil is in many places. It’s our historical dependence on middle eastern oil that can be easily reduced. Canada, the Dakotas, Mexico all have oil. And we can develop alternative energy sources. For a short time last week, wholesale prices for electricity in California was negative. The utilities were paying people to consume energy, largely because of excess solar capacity.

  16. kjc
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    “It’s our historical dependence on middle eastern oil that can be easily reduced. Canada, the Dakotas, Mexico all have oil.”


  17. Tony
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Guys with small hands usually overcompensate with buying baubles. Now we know what they do when given access to the world’s greatest military and arsenal.

  18. Eel
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    According to Eric Trump, his sister Ivanka persuaded her father the President to drop the bombs.

  19. Eel
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    My source:

  20. Hitler wasn't that bad
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Sean Spicer praises Hitler for his restraint, falsely claims he never gassed his own people

  21. Frosted Flakes
    Posted April 12, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    The Spicer comment is a non story.

    Some refuse to stop using childish arguments. Please stop. You are killing us.

  22. anonymous
    Posted April 12, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    In case you missed this factoid.

    Trump: I told Chinese president about Syria strikes while we ate “beautiful chocolate cake”

  23. Demetrius
    Posted April 12, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    @ anonymous

    Chocolate … or “Chanel?”

  24. Meta
    Posted April 14, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    And then there’s this.

    CNN: “Misdirected coalition airstrike kills 18 US-allied rebels in Syria”

    The US-led coalition has killed 18 of its own allies in Syria in what it described as a misdirected airstrike.

    The strike was carried out on Tuesday and killed members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Washington and other nations have backed and coordinated with to fight ISIS militants in the country.

    “The strike was requested by the partnered forces, who had identified the target location as an ISIS fighting position. The target location was actually a forward Syrian Democratic Forces fighting position,” the US Central Command said in a statement Thursday.

    “The coalition’s deepest condolences go out to the members of the SDF and their families. The coalition is in close contact with our SDF partners who have expressed a strong desire to remain focused on the fight against ISIS despite this tragic incident.”

    The statement said that the coalition was assessing the incident.

    A coalition official told CNN the SDF asked for the coalition to perform the strike. The official said the coalition did not realize the error and was investigating how the mistake occurred and how it could be prevented in the future.

    Read more:

  25. Meta
    Posted April 14, 2017 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    And the gas attacks never happened. Totally fake news.

    ABC News: “Analysts identify #SyriaHoax as Russian-fueled propaganda”

    As Syrian president Bashar al-Assad called videos of last week’s chemical attack a “fabrication,” a piece of propaganda promoted by a Russian cyber operation and bearing the hashtag #SyriaHoax has gained traction in the United States, analysts tell ABC News.

    Following the chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians on Tuesday, Al-Masdar News, a pro-Assad website based in Beirut, published claims that “something is not adding up in [the] Idlib chemical weapons attack.” Its author cited “holes” in the accounts provided by the “Al-Qaeda affiliated” White Helmets leading to the conclusion that “this is another false chemical attack allegation made against the government.”

    That hoax story was promoted by a network of Russian social media accounts and ultimately picked up by popular alt-right personalities in the United States, including Mike Cernovich, one of the leading voices in the debunked ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory. Cernovich popularized its new hashtag — #SyriaHoax — and sent it soaring through cyberspace. According to Trends24, within hours of the retaliatory missile strike President Donald Trump launched on Thursday night, #SyriaHoax was the No. 1 trending Twitter topic in the United States.

    J.M. Berger of The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism at The Hague, who studies propaganda and social media analytical techniques, said #SyriaHoax is “a clear example of a Russian influence campaign” designed to undermine the credibility of the U.S. government.

    “The point of an influence campaign is to get people involved who wouldn’t otherwise be involved,” Berger said. “A lot of people in the alt-right would not necessarily characterize themselves as being pro-Russian, but they’re receiving influence from this campaign.”

    Read more:

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