The cruise missiles that hit Syria this week not only struck back at Bashar Assad for the recent heinous poison-gas attack but also obliterated (at least temporarily) President Donald Trump’s Russia problem.
One wonders whether some segment of die-hard Hillary Clinton supporters, who Thursday night heard their candidate blame Russian interference in the November elections for her loss, don’t feel Friday morning that Trump’s attack was motivated by his desire to stanch the weeks of political blood-loss from the revelations around his administration’s coziness with Russia and its seeming indifference to the subversion of our democracy.
If so, Russia cooperated. Almost on cue, the Kremlin denounced the attack and “smart” Russian President Vladimir Putin ridiculed it as “trumped-up.” Putin and Trump: Comrades, it would seem, no more.
Thursday night’s strikes are reminiscent of a previous president’s launch of cruise missiles at a low ebb in his administration. Just days after testifying before a grand jury in the Monica Lewinsky case, President Bill Clinton launched cruise missiles against an al-Qaida site in Afghanistan and the al-Shifa site in Sudan. Clinton was criticized then for using military action for domestic political purposes.
It will be interesting to see whether the initial unanimity of political support for Trump’s action holds. However pure his intentions, we aren’t talking now about the failure of health care, the warring factions within the White House, the cost of protecting the billionaire first family or Trump’s fondness for Russia. We don’t know yet whether the missiles did anything to change the intractable horror in Syria, but at home, they were a direct hit.
Carter Eskew was a political media consultant and corporate strategist.