So we now finally have some limited clarity on the outcome of this year’s first Syria crisis.
Cruise Missile Strike
US frigates, B-1 bombers, and French/UK fighters launched around 100 cruise missiles at Syria, incidentally taking care to launch from far away and stay outside the radius of Russia’s A2AD bubbles.
There are also disputes over the extent to which Russia participated in this turkey shoot, and its success:
- Syrian air defense did all of the work (helped at most by Russian telemetric assistance)
- Russian air defense participated – either fully, or in part (e.g. helped in Homs, but not over Damascus)
… as well as by its actual success rate:
- American version: 0%
- Russian version: 71/103 = 69% (details: airports – 4/4 in Duvali; 12/12 in Dumeir; 18/18 in Bley; 12/12 in Shayrat; 5/9 in Mezze; 13/16 in Homs; locations in Barca and Gerramani – 7/30).
How does this performance stack up?
- 1/2 would be very good (considering especially that Syrians don’t have a reputation for military competence)
- 1/1 or 2/2 would be meh/as expected
- 2/1 would be catastrophic
My impression is that the Russian version is closer to reality. At the very least, at least some missiles plainly were intercepted – there is video of this, as well as photographs of craters that plainly just hit the ground – so the maximal Western claim of zero success is false.
1. Does this mean “alarmist” analysts who predicted WW3 were wrong?
Well, it’s a good thing I never did so: “Most likely, it will be a much larger-scale repetition of the mostly symbolic strike on Shayrat AFB in April 2017.”
However, I believe the main problem I outlined stands: Namely, that Trump has locked himself into an escalatory cycle. The jihadis now know that all they need to do to provoke geometrically expanding retaliations against Assad is to continue setting up false flag gas attacks. Talk of perverse incentives. As this cycle plays out, the chances of Russian forces entering into hostilities with US and coalition forces will continue to increase. Maybe next time, Bolton/Trump will win out over voices of caution such as Mattis. Or maybe Israelis or Saudis launch an attack on Russian forces under the cover of the next coalition strike against Syria.
Since the chances of Russia winning an aeronaval battle over Syria will remain zero regardless of what it does, it will still have the same unappetizing set of choices outlines in the Road to WW3.
In the context of this escalation trap and the legal nihilism that has permeated American, British, and French foreign policy, we are going to be living under the risk of such a development until Syria clears out the last of the jihadis.
2. Still no Wall, the steady purge of the Old Trumpists (Stephen Miller is the only one who’s left), tax cuts for corporations, now talk of signing on back to the TPP…
And now the revelation that Trump was on the warhawk side of the debate, along with Bolton, puts the last nails into the coffin of Trump the Candidate.
There’s no longer any of the energy that propelled him into the Presidency through pure memetic energy. /pol/ no longer cares for him. The_Donald has become an echo chamber for his personality cult. Alt Right, Alt Light – doesn’t matter, almost everyone has jumped ship (Ann Coulter months ago, now Cernovich). The only people “on the Internet” who remain fans are either outright Zionists like Jacob Wohl, and adherents of 4D chess explanations that are drifting into absurd levels of intricacy.
Audacious Epigone has more evidence that the mid-terms will be a rout for the Republicans, with many of the people who took a chance on Trump in 2016 now reverting to the Democrats.
3. Pentagon propaganda about Russian bots is nearing self-parody:
“The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun. There has been a 2,000% increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours.”
As Mark Sleboda joked, “there has been a 2,000,000,000% increase in Pentagon mouthpieces and MSM propagandists dismissing any and all dissenting & critical American citizens who disagree w their illegal wars, pretexts & narrative as “Russian trolls.”
4. China has been uncharacteristically blunt in its support of Syria and Russia:
“China has always spoken against the use of military force in international relations and spoken for the respect of the sovereignty of all the states, their independence and territorial integrity,” the spokeswoman said.
“Any unilateral military actions in circumvention of the UN Security Council contradict the basic goals and principles of the UN Charter,” says the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement posted on its website.
“China is calling on all the parties concerned to return to the framework of international law and resolve the problem through dialogue and consultations,” the statement reads.
“China believes that political settlement is the sole way out of the Syrian crisis, Hua Chunying said.
Lead Global Times editorial today: Reckless strike on Syria a shameless act
Even the usually bland and professionally restrained Xinhua has engaged in a fun exercise of “Trump criticizing Trump”:
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) April 14, 2018
China also supported Russia’s resolution in the USNC condemning the FUKUS aggression against Syria, along with Bolivia itself. Peru, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, and Kazakhstan – the latter purportedly Russia’s ally, but in reality nothing of the sort – abstained. The US, UK, France, Cote D’Ivoire, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden voted against.
So getting China to crawl out of its cocoon and to make its displeasure known has been another excellent development.
Not directly related, but we beginning to see the general outlines of Russia’s response to the recent US sanctions.
The current bill proposes to:
- Ban import of US alcohol and tobacco products
- “Ceasing or suspending international cooperation in the nuclear sphere, rocket engine building and aircraft building between Russian companies and organizations under US jurisdiction”
- Ceasing to recognize US copyrights. (“”This will be like a punch to the solar plexus for the Americans, because all achievements and all domination of the Anglo-Saxon, Western world are based on intellectual property and we are targeting this very right,” MP Mikhail Yemelyanov (Fair Russia) said in comments to Interfax.”)
While the first two are not unexpected, the third one seems radical and far-reaching.
In the earliest versions I read about, there was also talk of banning US citizens from working in Russia. This would be a very stupid move that would have a very direct and negative impact on several of my regular commenters. Hopefully this has gotten removed.