Hoo boy. As of this morning, America’s political media started dancing to a familiar tune … we were bombing someone, which is just alright. There is nothing more undignified than to watch the American media fall all over its collective self cheering the hometown boys upon the occasion of our killing brown people.
“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” (Brian) Williams said. “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.’”
Please … don’t. No, just … folks, this is why I drink.
Here’s what we know by the middle of the afternoon. We launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase, apparently 58 hit (we send cruise missiles because if they get shot down, and we lost several of them to ground fire in Iraq, there’s no messy talk about the pilot). Someone tipped off the Russians, and someone tipped off the Syrians, which means our missiles — each of which costs slightly north of a million dollars — hit empty buildings and runways. Half a dozen people died, and Raytheon’s stock went up. By the afternoon, Reuters reported that Syrian aircraft were taking off from the airbase to hit targets in the countryside. Oh yeah, a senior administration official was quoted as saying the missile strike was not was part of a wider campaign against Assad al-Bashar.
In other words, we did nothing. We spent $59 million on a one-off response to a heartwrenching chemical weapons attack for which the people we launched it against were prepared. We caused no long-term impairment to Syria’s ability to use the airbase, which given the track record of Tomahawks as one-off responses, was to be expected.
In defense of the president’s military planners, there just weren’t a lot of options open. Anything more would have opened a real risk for a shooting war with the Russians. Thanks to the predictable nature of the American media (I see you Brian Williams), the administration got maximum public relations value out of merely looking like they were doing anything.