An arrogant autocrat’s abortive surgical strike on Syria
“It’s not the cigar, stupid. It’s the cruise missiles launched to cover the shame.”
— Christopher Hitchens
On April 14, 2018, the United States attacked the sovereign Arab Republic of Syria without justification or provocation in collaboration with Britain and France. It is disheartening, but unsurprising, to see the Washington regime is back to colluding with its colonial conspirators, all of whom lack the moral fortitude to forge an independent foreign policy direction for themselves. Instead, the once-mighty European powers appear resigned to follow the disastrous direction set by the United States, like so many railcars coupled to a derailed locomotive that is flying off the track.
It seems whenever the legitimate government of Syria manages to get an upper hand against the alphabet soup of mercenary forces funded by the Washington-Tel Aviv-Riyadh axis of aggression, a “chemical attack” conveniently occurs, the blame for which is inevitably placed on President Bashar al-Assad. Concurrent with Syria’s progress in ridding itself of these western-backed terrorists, U.S. president Donald Trump has found himself enmeshed in an expanding web of intrigue woven around an investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into certain improprieties, which may have been committed by members of his inner circle during the 2016 election campaign.
And then there are the revelations that the former New York real estate developer and reality TV show producer had an encounter in 2006 with a certain lady of questionable repute named Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels. While years of mathematical training may have influenced this writer’s perception, nevertheless I think I see a pattern here: when a U.S. president is besieged with charges of corruption, incompetence and dalliance, he orders a missile attack on a benign foreign country to deflect attention from himself and his unsavory predicament.
Similarly, back in 1998, former U.S. president William Jefferson Clinton stood accused of having had an extramarital affair with aid Monica Lewinsky,
which was being investigated by special counsel Kenneth Starr. In order to deflect attention from the sordid matter, Clinton launched a cruise missile attack on the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan under the pretext of retaliation against the country for having connections to Al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden. The claim by the Clinton administration was that Al-Shifa was producing VX nerve gas.
Now, over 20 years later, another U.S. president has plagiarized this theme for the same reason: to divert public attention from an alleged extramarital affair with a woman who has refused to remain silent despite the hush money paid out to her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who himself is the target of a criminal investigation. This time, of course, the pretext for the missile bombardment was an alleged chemical attack in Douma, in the eastern Ghouta region. The target, once again was a pharmaceutical research facility in Barzeh, the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industries Research Institute, which specialized in cancer medicines. Trump even used George W. Bush’s “mission accomplished” slogan after the deed was done.
The parallels between these two lethal escapades are uncanny. Clinton was accused of having an extramarital affair; so is Trump. Clinton launched a cruise missile attack on a Muslim-majority country, which had not attacked or in any way threatened the U.S.; Trump followed suit. Clinton’s attack destroyed a pharmaceutical plant; ditto for Trump. In both cases, the presidents claimed production and use of chemical warfare agents justified the attacks.
Now, the U.S., as a member of the United Nations, had agreed to “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” as is stated in the United Nations Charter. Two missile attacks totaling 162 missiles would appear at a minimum to constitute “use of force” in violation of the U.N. Charter, and could be construed as an act of war. Incidentally, the U.N. Charter, ratified by the U.S. Senate in July 1945, constitutes a binding agreement under international law and the U.S. constitution. Of course, this is merely opinio juris, since U.S state practice is frequently contrary to customary international law.
It is fascinating that gun-happy Americans tend to go nonlinear over any perceived threat to their “right” to bear arms under Amendment 2 of the U.S. constitution, which, incidentally, was originally added for the benefit of slave owners who feared a rebellion. However, if we concede the two missile attacks were acts of war, then there is a clear violation of Article I Section 8 of the U.S. constitution, which, inter alia, specifically states that the U.S. congress has the power to declare war. No such congressional declaration of war has been passed.
Consequently, in the absence of such a congressional decree, the chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, its members and even the officers of the U.S. military could be accused of having abdicated their duty to support and defend the U.S. constitution. At a minimum, they are in blatant violation of their oath of commission, which each officer specifically states: “I, _____, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic .... ”
Nor are U.S. legislators demanding of their arrogant autocrat an accounting of this action in lieu of a declaration of war. Such notification is required by law within 48 hours whenever U.S. military forces are introduced by the president:
(1) into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances;
(2) into the territory, airspace or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat, except for deployments which relate solely to supply, replacement, repair, or training of such forces; or
(3) in numbers which substantially enlarge United States Armed Forces equipped for combat already located in a foreign nation.
So even if one were to argue that two missile attacks ordered by the American president do not constitute an act of war by the U.S. against Syria under the U.N. Charter, and that such an attack would not require a declaration of war by the U.S. congress, then there still exists the legal responsibility on the part of the members of that august body to demand a full written report from the so-called commander-in-chief, explaining:
(A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
(B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and
(C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.
None of this has taken place as of this writing, lending one to believe that the members of congress are purposefully shirking their responsibilities.
Thankfully, the “surgical strike” appears to have been largely nullified by Syrian air defenses. According to the Syrian Arab News Agency and confirmed by the Russian defense ministry, only about one quarter of the missiles reached their targets. Using Soviet made S-125, S-200, Buk and Kvadrat units, as well as Osa Syrian air defense systems, the Syrians managed to bring down an amazing 71 out of 103 cruise missiles fired at them by axis of aggression forces. All missiles launched at Damascus International Airport, Al-Dumayr airbase, Bley airbase and Shayarat airbase were blown out of the sky; five out of nine fired at Mezzeh airbase were hit; 13 out of 16 shot at Homs airbase were destroyed; and seven out of 30 aiming at targets near Barzeh and Jaramani were neutralized. Unfortunately, the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industries Research Institute in Barzeh was hit.
Given that the United States spends some $600 billion each year on its military, consider the humiliation of having 71 out of 103 Tomahawk cruise missiles knocked out by Syrians using 30-year-old Soviet-era anti-missile technology. Cruise missiles are estimated to cost about $832,000 each, so while Trump locked and loaded $85.7 million worth of them, he lost about $59 million. In contrast, the Soviet-designed SA-3 surface-to-air missile used with the S-125 system only costs about $20,300 each. Likewise, Syria has effectively humiliated Donald “The Art of the Deal” Trump, too, since by losing $59 million on his high-tech missiles, he clearly came out on the short end of this deal.