A few hours before the wealthy Donald Trump decided to blow things up in order to stop the disastrous coverage of his equally disastrous presidency, Chris Matthews had four-star Army General Barry McCaffrey on his show Hardball. Gen. McCaffrey was there to discuss the Trump administration’s clear overtures of imminent U.S. military action in Syria. Gen. McCaffrey was asked about the merits of a small scale missile strike, like the one that actually ended up happening.
MCCAFFREY: The question is has the Trump white house written down the political objectives they are trying to achieve through military force? And if we’re signaling displeasure to killing people with chemical weapons, there will be a consequence of that strike that will achieve no decisive results in this ongoing war. A half million have been murdered. Self-propelled artillery tanks, AK-47s. Now we’re going to respond with military power over 100 people murdered with chemical weapons? I’m not too sure there’s clarity in what they’re trying to achieve.
MATTHEWS: What would be the reason for a military person in the situation or wherever at the Pentagon to recommend, if it is such a limited strike, what would be the argument for it except, you know, P.R.?
MCCAFFREY: Well, I don’t think there is an argument. I think it would be a mistake to conduct limited political signaling using naval air power or F-16s flying out of someplace in the region. I do believe there’s a chance that Mattis will table—the secretary of defense—an option to eliminate the Syrian air force. The Russians will not confront U.S. Air force and naval air in air combat. We probably would kill some of them, but I think they would probably step aside. Now, the consequences of that, though, might be Iranian revolutionary guards killing soldiers, U.S. Soldiers in Iraq. Hezbollah going after the Israelis. So, military power invites unknown consequences when you carry it out. The question might be, why don’t we consider significant humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees in border regions of Turkey and Jordan and Iraq, in lieu of ineffective military strikes.
That’s just a small bit of the thinking that clearly wasn’t involved in last night’s public relations event.
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