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Trump is taking a gamble in USA relations with Russia

Syrian bombing: US and Russia ‘one step away from combat’, Paul McGeoug, The Age, 8 Apr 17,  “…..Donald Trump’s response to Tuesday’s sarin gas attack was visceral, heartfelt and entirely understandable. But don’t get carried away – this is the same guy who, when a voter asked about Syrian refugee children coming to the US, during a rally in Mew Hampshire last year, said: “I can look in their faces and say ‘You can’t come.’ I’ll look them in the face.”

But And in contradicting his every tweet on the madness of Washington being drawn into the Syrian civil war, Thursday’s missile barrage raises as many questions as it triggers alarms.

War is theatre – and in this case, audience reaction and the reviews are unsettling. Washington is unbowed. Describing the attack as “a measured step”, US UN ambassador Nikki Haley warned a Security Council meeting on Friday: “We are prepared to do more, but we hope that would not be necessary.” Blasting Syria’s sponsors Russia and Iran, she drew a new red line: “Bashar al-Assad must never use chemical weapons again”.

Moscow is furious. On Facebook, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev declared the relationship with Washington to be “completely ruined” and warned that the two countries were just one step away from combat.

And Moscow is doing something about it. Already a dangerous place, the Syrian airspace in which the US and Russian air forces are fighting different wars, became more risky with the Kremlin shutting down a risk-minimising channel, through which both air forces swapped information on their air movements, and “significantly increasing” the risk of confrontation.

Moscow promised too to bolster Syria’s air defences to “protect the most sensitive Syrian infrastructure facilities”. But that prompted analysts to observed that despite a 60 to 90-minute warning of Thursday’s attack, Moscow did not activate its own sophisticated missile defence systems in Syria against the incoming American salvo.

The Chinese are saying little, but no doubt are fuming. Beijing has backed Syria by joining Russia in thwarting action against it in the UN Security Council, and it won’t take lightly how the timing of Trump’s missile strike overshadowed a highly orchestrated Florida meeting between Trump and President Xi Jinping, or the provocative message it sent……..

there’s a danger now that Trump has had this early taste of war – mission creep. There are quibbles in Congress about his failure to seek its authority, but there’s also broad political and media support for his missile strike and given Trump’s desperate need for approval, he’ll be tempted to do more.

“If Mr Assad persists in the use of chemical or biological weapons, it will take extraordinary discipline to avoid falling into an escalation trap that leads from justified punitive strikes to a broader, and riskier, US intervention,” Blinken writes in The New York Times……….

Trump is taking a huge gamble. What was left of his wish for rapprochement with Moscow has been battered; to the extent that there is popular criticism of the attack, much of it is coming from his most ardent fringe-dweller followers; and, despite his endless rhetoric, he might just have delivered the US to the threshold of another Middle East war.

It’s all part of the amazing contradiction of Trump. Skeptics will says that demolition, death and dislocation will continue apace in Syria.

And cynics will wonder about motivation, the President’s historically rotten ratings and a Trump tweet back in October 2012, in which he said: “Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.”

But Trump has sent a signal to the world – he’s got a feel for American military power and he is not afraid to use it.

April 8, 2017 - Posted by | politics international, USA

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