This article is deliberately not very long. It does not need to be long, as the question it is going to pose can be asked effectively in just a few words. In those few words I believe I am asking a question that is on a lot of people’s minds now that Trump has launched a military strike in Syria:
What if there is another U.S. military strike in Syria?
It depends very much on who you talk to. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Moscow on Thursday, where he will meet his Russian counter part Sergei Lavrov, who will presumably lay down the Russian stand point in no uncertain terms. Russia has been very plain in its language thus far, going so far in the immediate aftermath of the missile strikes on Friday, N.Z.T. to warn that the United States is one step away from a direct confrontation with the Russian military. Russia has substantial military assets in Syria, in support of its client, which include air, sea and ground forces. Given all the effort that it has made in support of Syria it would seem highly improbable that Russia would back away now.
The United States for its part appears totally uncowed by Russia’s anger. It does not seem to mind the fact that Russia has made the starkest, most ominous warning short of nuclear war possible. In ordering the strikes and suggesting that there might be more to come, U.S. President Donald Trump has escalated the conflict to a level of danger, not seen since the Cold War. The nature of future strikes would probably be the same – swift and surgical – as the United States would want them to end before Russia could retaliate.
The world is understandably nervous. Everything about Mr Trump and his administration has been hawkish from the get go. With a complete disregard for the finer points of diplomacy, which might have made the strikes just that much more tolerable to the rest of the world, Mr Trump might have put America’s rivals on notice. But how far can he go before they push back, hard?