Don’t read too much into the Tomahawk missile strikes in Syria. As a TV-reality star, Donald Trump is a master of playing audience emotion. His authorization to strike Syria was a calculated move to tell Americans that Captain America Donald Trump is here. And the American hero is ready to slaughter bad guys like Bashar al-Assad or Kim Jong-un.
Like any Hollywood film, the bombing was U.S. propaganda to make Americans feel good and proud of their commander-in-chief. But the attack has raised more questions than answers. First of all, the story about naughty boy Assad having gassed his own people to death and foaming at the mouth was simply too dramatic even to the standard of a Hollywood film.
Thanks to President Vladimir Putin, the government of Assad – a legitimate government – is winning the Syrian War. He has recaptured the country’s second city Aleppo in December last year. Unless Assad is retarded, which he clearly isn’t, there’s no reason for him to kill his own people with chemical weapon. It would be more believable that CIA staged the chemical attack.
Secondly, it’s rather overkill and dumb sending 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles into an “abandoned” Syrian airbase. The airbase was almost empty because Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis confirmed that Russia was given a courtesy advance warning of the airstrike and the U.S. took the trouble to avoid hitting the area of the base where the Russians live.
Now, since Russia had been notified before raining Ash Sha’irat military airfield with Tomahawks, chances are the Syrians would have been warned by the Russian too. Of course, to make it looks like a Hollywood rather than a Bollywood film, casualties are inevitable. Syrian state news agency reported nine civilians including four children were killed.
So, 59 Tomahawks couldn’t kill a single Syrian soldier but 9 civilians, assuming there were civilians to begin with? Sure, they were sent to destroy infrastructures including the runway, hangars, fuel depot and whatnot. But how critical was the airbase in the first place if it wasn’t important enough to be guarded and defended at all cost? Still, do you need 59 Tomahawks to do the job?
Next, if Assad was such a monster President Trump makes him to be, why the U.S. president said otherwise when he tweeted “Don’t attack Syria – an attack that will bring nothing but trouble for the US,” before he becomes the president. Was his dramatic U-turn sparked by his daughter Ivanka’s heartbroken response to the chemical attack?
More importantly, why didn’t the invincible U.S. military send those 59 Tomahawks to evil Bashar al-Assad’s palace instead and kill him once and for all? Surely there must have some smart generals among Trump administration, were there not? Each Tomahawk missile, made by Raytheon Co., costs US$1.5million a pop. That’s US$88.5 million go up in smoke!
Fourthly, the effectiveness of Tomahawks is being questioned. While the U.S. said that all but one of the 59 missiles launched hit their targets, Russia’s Defence Ministry said only 23 of the missiles reached the base. If that’s true, it means 36 of the missiles had been shot down by Russian defence system, or had gone haywire. That’s a pathetic 39% success rate on the American side.
The Russian Defence Ministry also released drone video purportedly showing minimal damage, whereby the U.S. missiles mainly hit the perimeter of the Syrian airbase, creating tons of potholes. Perhaps, this explains why two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea – destroyers USS Ross and USS Porter – had fired so many Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian target.
In essence, Russian defence system – the “Triumf” S-400 SAM (better known to NATO as the SA-21 “Growler”) – had successfully stopped 60% of Tomahawks. Targeting 400 kilometres in distance and heights of up to 27 kilometres, it appears the S-400 has proven to be an effective defence system against U.S.-made cruise missiles.
Strangely, Russia didn’t trumpet about the effectiveness of its S-400 in stopping most of the Tomahawks. Did Vladimir Putin deliberately keep a low profile so that Donald Trump could steal all the thunders, hence convincing Trump haters back at home that the U.S. president is not a Russian puppet after all? Americans can’t accept that their president is no match for Putin.
Fifthly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Russia has “failed” in its responsibility to deliver on a 2013 commitment to secure Syria’s chemical weapons, calling Kremlin either complicit or “simply incompetent”. He has also warned Russia to “carefully consider” its continued support for the Assad regime. Strangely, Tillerson is scheduled to visit Moscow next week.
If Russia was a perpetrator and Putin is no match for a tough Trump as some Western media have been drumming since the Tomahawk assaults, why is Tillerson so eager to fly to Moscow to meet the Russian supremo? Why the need to bootlick Putin when the powerful U.S. military could send new rounds of Tomahawk missiles to wipe out not only Assad but also Putin’s gear in Syria?
Trump’s unilateral strikes on Syrian airbase have violated international law, not to mention it was done without U.S. Congress or United Nations’ approval. Now, if Trump is so tough and America is so strong that Putin and Russia are trembling at the sight of Tomahawks, surely the U.S. president could do a Merkel on China President Xi Jinping, which is the sixth reason why this is a smokescreen.
Despite all Trump’s previous harsh remarks on China, President Trump had behaved extremely well in his first meeting with President Xi Jinping. Unlike his awkward 19 seconds of hand holding with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, or his public avoidance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand and eye, Trump shared polite and firm handshakes with Xi.
In comparison, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Trump, not only did the U.S. president refused a handshake with her momentarily, the badass who said the Germany leader “should be ashamed of herself” for “ruining” Germany had actually handed Merkel a US$374 billion bill, which he said was money Germany owed NATO to cover military defence costs.
Considering China has done something worse than owing money – harbouring North Korean Kim Jong-un – should not Donald Trump have at least insulted Xi Jinping? Trump didn’t talk about slapping a 45% tariff on Chinese imports, didn’t call China a currency manipulator and didn’t push hard enough to force China to stop Kim Fat Boy from playing with nuclear weapons.
Obviously, blowing up a deserted Syrian airfield isn’t a military strategic plan at all. It was merely a tactic to boost Trump’s image in the eyes of fellow Americans. Unless Trump dares putting American boots on the ground against Bashar al-Assad or carpet bomb Damascus, Russia and China have little to worry about their proxy Syria and North Korea.