Syria strike gives Trump anti-Kremlin credential

Politico reports: In Russia, they call it kozyrnut’. It means “to play a trump card.”

Donald Trump’s missile strike this week against the Russian-backed Syrian regime not only damaged its chemical weapons program, it also happened to give the U.S. president a useful political tool.

Now, whenever anyone accuses Trump of being too cozy with Russia, he can point to the strike against Syria as evidence that he’s willing to defy the Kremlin: Kozyrnut’.

The missile strike on a Syrian airbase came just days before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to visit Moscow, and the implications could be wide-ranging for Trump’s relationship with Russia, which kept its push-back largely rhetorical.

The political side effect, meanwhile, could burnish Trump’s defense against claims he is too close to Russia amid ongoing federal probes into whether Moscow tried to swing the 2016 election his way. [Continue reading…]

Or, as the most truthful purveyor of fake news, The Onion, tells the story: After ordering the first U.S. military attack against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, President Donald Trump held a press conference Friday to express his full confidence that the airstrike had completely wiped out the lingering Russian scandal. “Based on intelligence we have received over the past several hours, the attack on the al-Shayrat air base in Homs has successfully eliminated all discussions and allegations about my administration’s ties to the Russian government,” said Trump, adding that at approximately 4:40 a.m. local time, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from U.S. naval ships obliterated all traces of the widespread controversy in news outlets across the media. [Continue reading…]

As for Politico’s claim that the missile strikes “damaged [Assad’s] chemical weapons program,” that would be very hard to substantiate on at least two counts. Firstly, given that this is a program that had supposedly already been dismantled, there’s been no indication that outside Syria there’s currently any reliable information on how much of the program was secretly kept in place. And secondly, the choice of the al-Shayrat air base as target for missile strikes appears to have derived solely from intelligence indicating that was the location from which chemical weapons-carrying aircraft took off — not the location at which these weapons were manufactured.

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