Trump Squeezes Putin in Syria and That's Risky

With one missile strike on a Syrian airfield, President Donald Trump called two bluffs at once but likely set back his proclaimed goal of defeating Islamic State.The pre-dawn strike on Shayrat Airfield should deal a crushing blow to the narrative that the Kremlin somehow controls Trump or has compromising material about him. This is not the kind of risk a man on a blackmailer's hook would take. Nor does Russia's behavior after the strike give credence to the idea now circulating that the strike was a mere PR exercise, fully signed off by the Kremlin, who evacuated Russian personnel (and warned Assad). This conspiracy theory holds that the collusion would take the pressure off investigations into Trump's Russia connections and clear the way for a grand bargain down the road.On the surface, Russia appeared to be willing to treat the attack as an isolated incident, especially since the U.S. has made sure no Russians would be hurt. That's easier today than forgiving Turkey for shooting down a Russian warplane in 2015. The propaganda line on Friday's strike is that Russia didn't move in to protect Shayrat because Russian servicemen weren't at risk there. The Assad regime's military capability hasn't been greatly affected, either.  Continue reading...

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