At 4:40 a.m. local time Friday in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Donald Trump became a war president.
On his order, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles blasted off the destroyers USS Ross and USS Porter, arced over the Syrian coastline and headed 40 miles inland. The 20-foot-long missiles skimmed over the landscape at 550 mph. As they approached the Shayrat airfield, home to Syria’s 50th Air Brigade, guidance systems pinpointed each target: The missiles carrying 1,000-pound high explosive warheads went for the two main runways, underground bunkers and hardened shelters. Other Tomahawks armed with warheads each carrying 166 lethal bomblets destroyed aircraft, fuel and ammunition depots, and other “soft” targets with red-hot jagged shrapnel and concussive force.
It was a highly technical and tightly coordinated operation, for which the military has long planned and practiced, and it appears to have been carried out flawlessly.
But giving the nod to one $94 million missile strike bought Trump far more than a presidential moment at a temporary lecturn at Mar-a-Lago, where he announced the attack Thursday night. He seemed to have a premonition that things would change earlier in the week when he acknowledged, “I now have responsibility” for Syria.
Now he really does. What comes next is the difficult and perhaps impossible job of managing the rest of this war, a conflict that has killed at least 470,000 people over six years, including 55,000 children. Syrian President Bashar Assad battles bands of murderous and heavily armed fighters, backed by Russia and Iran, as well as dwindling ranks of “moderate” rebels…
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