Now that the smoke has cleared in Syria, the picture is becoming more clear to all involved: Donald Trump ordered the launch of fifty-nine sophisticated Tomahawk missiles at one Syrian air base, but went out of his way to make sure the base remained fully operational, thus essentially pretending to have disabled it for the sake of television viewers at home. But why? Well, Trump’s sudden defensiveness about the runways gives away a lot.
By Saturday, two days after the strike, Americans were beginning to question rather loudly why Trump would have put on such a bombastic and expensive set of fireworks at an air base that was able to resume launching planes just sixteen hours later (source: Reuters). In reply, Trump tried to play military strategy expert on Twitter on Saturday afternoon: “The reason you don’t generally hit runways is that they are easy and inexpensive to quickly fix (fill in and top)!”
That brought immediate pushback from the likes of NBC News intel expert and Navy veteran Malcolm Nance, who tweeted that “Our armed forces have 1000s of Runway cratering munitions that can destroy 100m of runway ea. Dead runway=No Flights. The Pentagon – use it.” (link). And then Congressman Ted Lieu, an Air Force veteran himself, piled on with “Seems Donald Trump is getting insecure about his attack on Syria, which did basically nothing to stop #Assad from launching more strikes” (link). So it took all of a few minutes to sleuth out that Trump’s tweet was nonsense.
But Trump didn’t end up merely looking foolish with his tweet. He also gave away a crucial detail: the Tomahawks didn’t aim for the runways and miss. This mission didn’t fail to reach its goal. Avoiding the runways was the goal. In fact the U.S. military says 58 out of 59 Tomahawks hit their targets (source: ABC News). As military veterans Nance and Lieu both alluded to above, anyone with a basic understanding of military strategy knows that you crater the runways if you want to cripple an air force base. But the U.S. purposely avoided the runways. The only way our military leaders would have avoided the runways is if Trump ordered them to.
Trump only would have given this kind of order if he wanted to make sure the Syrian air base was right back up and running the next day. And his only possible motivation for that was if Russia wanted it that way. So by getting defensive about the runways today, Trump is essentially admitting he was doing Russia’s bidding by leaving the air base intact. This furthers my original theory (link) that Vladimir Putin orchestrated the entire military back and forth, including the chemical weapon attack. Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report