You saw it here first a few posts ago, when I predicted that Trump’s madness, folly and incompetence would soon paint his administration into a corner from which war was the only escape. I didn’t think he’d manage it this fast. (However, if you scroll down today’s NY Times here and here and here and here – and that’s only today – which show an administration in tail-spin, perhaps it’s not surprising.)
Let me be clear: chemical weapons are horrid, and Assad deserves a special place in hell. But – after taking almost a week for Trump to move from indifference to moral outrage when the rest of us took about a micro-second – is a sudden, trigger-happy launch of ballistics the appropriate response? Would a phone-call to Trump’s and Assad’s mutual sponsor, Putin, not be a better start? Is there an endgame here, a vision of a Middle East after the Syrian civil war has ended? Is there a path towards peace in the region, a peace that includes Russia, Iran, Iraq and Israel as well as the umpteen factions that vie for political supremacy? Will bombing a few of Assad’s targets weaken his regime thus strengthening ISIS?
I do not know the answer to any of these questions. But, and although it’s early in the piece, there is no evidence that Trump or his administration do either.
The path to rapid escalation and ultimate nuclear conflict is very clear. The path to peace is not. The former has just taken a big step forwards.