April 14, 2018: Trump Finds a Distraction from the Cohen Raid in Attack on Syria

The USS Monterey fires a Tomahawk land attack missile on April 14, 2018 (AFP by Tony GAMAL-GABRIEL)

A year ago Trump ordered 59 cruise missiles fired to attack a Syrian airbase in response to Syrian President Assad using Sarin nerve gas against his own people. 

Since then Syria has used chemical weapons against its citizens at least five documented times prior to its attack with chlorine gas a week ago on the Syrian city of Douma.   Those earlier incidents drew no response from Trump. 

Trump’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis tried to slow a response regarding Douma out of concern that a poorly planned reaction ran the risk of military conflict in Syria with Russia and Iran, given their existing involvement there.   Mattis was not successful and it’s not difficult to figure out why.

On Monday FBI agents using a search warrant had raided the offices of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney.  Rod J. Rosenstein, appointed by Trump to serve as deputy attorney general, approved the search warrant

Trump was furious, stating that the raid was “an attack on our country,” which of course it wasn’t — unless Trump considers himself and the country to be one and the same, which he may.    

Trump apparently decided he needed to quickly remove the Cohen raid from media prominence.  On Friday, the United States, France and the UK, but not Germany, attacked chemical weapon production and storage sites in Syria. 

After Friday’s strike on Syria, Trump announced “Mission Accomplished”.  That phrase was made famous by a banner hanging over President George W. Bush on an aircraft carrier as he made a speech on May 1, 2003.  In that speech he claimed an end to major combat operations in Iraq; the vast majority of civilian and military casualties in Iraq came after that speech. 

Only time will tell if Trump is serious now about preventing Assad from continuing to use chemical weapons.  More likely, future attacks will depend on whether Trump feels the need to seize the media narrative. 

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