American Tomahawk missiles destroyed more than just a Syrian airbase, Thursday; they also trampled the democratic theory that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed efforts to ensure that his friend, Donald Trump, would become President of the United States.
Democratic politicians, party operatives and their loyal followers in the left-wing media – along with anti-Trump Republicans – sustained heavy casualties as their favorite conspiracy narrative evaporated without warning. The backlash from White House officials and supporters of the President will, no doubt, be swift and merciless, and already has begun in earnest on social media.
Over the next few days, the ‘Trump as Putin’s puppet’ argument will morph into other forms as the President’s political opponents struggle to untangle themselves from the fake news they disseminated loudly and often.
Putin is many things, but he is not imprudent or unwise. He had no previous personal relationship with Donald Trump and, therefore, would have viewed a Trump administration as an undetermined variable in his own foreign-policy calculations. By contrast, a Hillary Clinton White House would have presented a far more predictable – and manageable – entity. Factor in Trump’s election pledges to strengthen America’s armed forces and national security and it becomes clear that the Russian leader would have been taking a serious gamble by influencing the 2016 U.S. election in favor of Trump. And one thing is certain – Putin is not a gambling man.
As if this wasn’t convincing enough, The Russian president would also have considered Trump’s public statements about not revealing any details of potential military operations in advance. This is in stark contrast to President Obama was fond of signaling where and when American forces would strike. Trump, however, has consistently understood the importance of what is known, in military parlance, as operational security. Reportedly, Russian military personnel were in or near the Shayrat airfield before Thursday’s attack and were given warning, to avoid casualties. Other than that, no-one was prepared for this action until those missiles were launched. News outlets are now reporting sixteen casualties, but the intention was, clearly, not to kill Syrians but send a clear message to President Bashar al-Assad that the use of chemical weapons was a red line that he dare not cross.
Under Obama, the U.S. was never resolute, and red lines were often drawn with dry-erase markers. Trump prefers to use permanent ink, it seems.
Now, the debate over Trump’s authority to order such action begins. The wisdom of deeper entanglement in Syria is also front and center. The left will be working furiously to stake out its anti-war narrative, in total disregard for its previous approval of President Obama’s many military adventures. The sudden and completely unexpected, demise of the Trump-Putin bromance story is a huge victory for the President and his supporters. More than that, however, it drives a dagger through the heart of the current Russian collusion investigation, which congressional Democrats have pursued to delegitimize the Trump presidency. The entire nature of that investigation may now have to be re-evaluated or given up on, all together.
Thursday was not a good day for the Syrian government; it was an even worse day for President Donald Trump’s adversaries here at home.