bdmetronews Desk ॥ The situation in Syria remains dangerous, even though ISIS is close to being defeated and the Assad regime, backed by Russia and Iran, is close to winning the civil war.
On Wednesday, a day of growing peril in a part of the world where Russian and American forces sometimes confront each other, the president who campaigned on never telegraphing his intensions to adversaries decided to taunt Russia with the threat of a missile attack. “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria,” President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning as an anxious world watched to see if the Syrian crisis will escalate out of control. “Get ready, Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart.’”
Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
President Trump’s tweets fly in the face of the norms that even during the Cold War kept the two great nuclear powers from needlessly provoking each other. They risk further inflaming a conflict that has already drawn in regional and world powers in a dizzying nest of alignments. With the common enemy the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on the brink of defeat, those opposing forces are increasingly coming into conflict as they jockey for position and territorial control inside Syria.
Just this year, U.S. forces in Syria have battled Russian mercenaries who attacked their base, reportedly at the direction of the Kremlin, and killed more than 100 of them. In northern Syria, U.S. troops and their Kurdish allies remain engaged in a tense face-off with the military forces of Turkey, a NATO ally. This week, Israeli warplanes attacked a military base in Syria, where Iran coordinates its militias, killing four Iranian military advisers.
This week’s suspected chemical weapons attack by Syrian forces, which reportedly killed more than 40 people in a rebel-held stronghold near Damascus, and President Trump’s telegraphed determination to respond militarily, have set the escalation cycle spinning even faster.
“The new normal is that President Trump uses Twitter as direct fire to convey his feelings and intent to audiences at home and abroad, bypassing the United States’ entire foreign policy and diplomatic apparatus. It’s now understood around the world that those tweets are a direct pipeline to his thinking, which is an unprecedented and significant development,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, a former senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and currently the distinguished practitioner in residence at American University’s School of International Service.
In weighty matters of war, the president’s tweets may offer a direct conduit to the Trumpian id, but they are unfiltered by a careful calculation of U.S. interests and the risks involved, or by a strategy guiding the actions of a great power. Instead, Trump’s tweets and off-the-cuff pronouncements, Barno notes, reveal “a constant tension between U.S. military commanders who want to sustain a military presence in Syria to consolidate their gains from the defeat of ISIS, and a commander in chief who instinctively dislikes U.S. boots on the ground, but is willing to use bombs and missiles to achieve his goals. Those two ideas remain very much in tension in this administration, and I’m not sure that adds up to a strategy.”