Chemical weapons in Britain and Syria

Everyone believes the Russians.  If they say they had nothing to do with the Skripal poisoning, we believe them.  If they say they have nothing to do with the dropping of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians we believe them, of course.  But, the British say that only Russia, had the toxic nerve agent, the means and the reasons for trying to assassinate the Skripals.  And everybody else believes them, although the Russians deny it. Specifically the British agency concluded that the highest concentration of said agent was on the outside door knob of the Skripal’s house.

People are dying in Syria again from the use of chemical weapons that are against international law, and the Syrian Government of Pres. Assad says they had nothing to do with this, they don’t have chemical weapons and they didn’t use them.  And Russia vehemently denies that Assad could have used these weapons and blames some unnamed outside power for their use (Israel, the US?).

But, Pres. Trump has tweeted that the US will respond with missiles at some time in the future against Syria for the continued use of chemical weapons.  He did this once before, in 2017 he obliterated a Syrian airfield with 60 cruise missiles for a previous attack using chemical weapons, but obviously it didn’t deter the Syrians and their Russian allies, and the airfield was back in operation in a day.  So not much of a deterrent.

Pres. Putin must be feeling pretty smug, apart from the expulsion of a few Russian diplomats, he has warned that any attack on Syria that involves Russian facilities or personnel, will bring a swift Russian response.  The prospect of a US-Russian military clash over Syria could give even Pres. Trump pause.  The question is what can or will Trump do now, and will his main allies, the British and French support him.

There must be feverish planning in the Pentagon over what targets and facilities are legitimate and where there are no Russians.  There are at least three known potential chemical weapons plants in Syria.  Of course, Assad has moved all his planes and other movable weapons to Russian facilities in the expectation that they will be immune from any strike.  So the effect will be minimal.

Nevertheless, the feeling is that Putin has crossed a line, with the personal use of nerve agents in Britain, not for the first time, and the widespread use of chemical weapons by his ally in Syria, which could not occur without his approval, he has gone too far.  Trump has put his credibility on the line and something has to be done in Syria before Putin gets too ambitious and starts to expand Russia’s sphere of influence.  Most commentators expect a strike in the near future.  It may be surgical, it may avoid Russian facilities, but it must be bigger and better this time to deter Assad and his supporters