Technology Substitutes for Strategy in US Military Operations

Once again, the U.S. military has launched Tomahawk cruise missiles against Syria, as well as a new weapon called the JASSM-ER, described as “a stealthy long-range air-fired cruise missile.” According to FP: Foreign Policy, the latter weapon is “likely being closely watched in Tokyo, where military officials are considering purchasing the missile to give the country’s military a long-range strike capability against North Korean targets, Japan Times reports.” In short, the US military demonstrated a new weapon for an ally and potential client while striking a country (Syria) that has no way of striking back directly at the US

Here’s a report from Defense Industry Daily on the weapons used:

April 16/18: JASSM-ER makes its combat debut The USAF has fired Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missile in combat for the first time. 19 such missiles were launched from two B-1B Lancer bombers during last weekend’s sortie against Syrian chemical weapon research and storage facilities, and were joined by 57 Tomahawk missiles launched from US naval assets, as well as Storm Shadow and SCALP missiles from British and French warplanes. While Russian sources in Syria claim that Russian and Syrian air defenses managed to down 71 or the total 105 cruise missiles launched during the Friday night operation – claims Washington refutes – a report on the mission by the Aviationist reckon the newer missiles – in particular the JASSM-ER, SCALP and Storm Shadow – would have been highly effective against their targets.

One thing is certain: business is booming yet again for Lockheed Martin.

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It is now being reported that Mike Pompeo is unlikely to be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. GOP Senator Rand Paul will join all 10 Democrats on the committee in denying him approval.

However, the Republican leadership plans to bring his nomination to the floor anyway. With the Senate so closely divided, Pompeo needs at least one Democrat or Independent to vote for his approval.

These three are considering voting for Pompeo:

  • Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia
    (202) 224-3954
  • Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota
    (202) 224-2043
  • Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine
    (202) 224-5344

These two Democrats have not announced their preference and could vote for Pompeo:

  • Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri
    (202) 224-6154
  • Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana
    (202) 224-4814

Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah is a possibility for oppose Pompeo
(202) 224-5444

ALSO: Sign the petition to the Senate!

The Bogus ‘Credibility’ Argument Returns

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

Trump reportedly deferred to Mattis’ advice and ordered a smaller attack on Syria than he and Bolton had originally wanted:

President Donald Trump deferred to his Pentagon chief’s caution and tempered his preference for a more robust attack on Syria over allegations it used deadly gas on civilians, the first hints at the direction of his revamped national-security team.

It is better that Mattis’ view prevailed over Bolton’s, but one problem with taking any military action in response to demands to “do something” is that there will always be a chorus of hard-liners demanding that the U.S. “do more” than it already has. Once a president has conceded that military action is an appropriate response to a foreign government’s behavior, he has put himself in a trap of his own making. When the first strikes don’t “work” or are deemed to be inadequate to “get the job done,” the pressure to escalate increases. Since Trump is especially sensitive to accusations of looking “weak,” he is probably more likely than most presidents to listen to the hard-liners that fault him for not doing enough in Syria. It makes me wonder how long Mattis can hold off the president when Bolton is going to keep agitating for more aggressive actions.

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Tell the Senate: Block Trump’s War Cabinet: SIGN THE PETITION NOW

Tell the Senate: Block Trump’s War Cabinet

Trump’s new cabinet nominees risk putting us on paths to war with Iran and North Korea. They’ve overseen and support torture, and will continue American support for the Saudi war in Yemen. The Senate must reject them.

Sign the petition and tell your senators now and tell them to block Trump’s War Cabinet by opposing the nominations of Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel.

Don’t Fall for the Chemical Weapons Convention Justification

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

Jack Goldsmith and Oona Hathaway review the preposterous legal “arguments” in support of yesterday’s illegal attack. Here they address the erroneous claim that the attack was justified under international law because it was a response to the use of banned chemical weapons:

Nowhere does the [Chemical Weapons] Convention provide for unilateral uses of force in response to a breach of the Convention. And if it had, there’s a good chance no state would ever have joined it. And putting the treaty to one side, there is no reason at all to think that any related “norm” prohibiting the use of chemical weapons can be enforced with force outside the Charter framework [bold mine-DL].

Put simply, member states can’t ignore the U.N. Charter’s prohibition against using force against other states in the name of enforcing other international norms. Syria’s violations of its international obligations do not give other states license to disregard their own by launching military attacks against them. The U.S. and its allies don’t have any legal support for what they have done, and they make a mockery of their professed concern for international order when they wantonly undermine one of the core protections of the UN Charter.

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Canadian Government Supports US Bombing of Syria

The US has once again flagrantly violated international law. Without UN approval, they launched dozens of airstrikes on Syria. Ottawa immediately supported the US bombing. In a statement Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "Canada supports the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people."

Over the past week the Trudeau government has helped lay the foundation for the US led attack. 24 hours after the alleged April 7 attack foreign minister Chrystia Freeland put out a statement claiming, "the repeated and morally reprehensible use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in the past has been confirmed by independent international investigators…. Canada condemns the Assad regime – and its backers, Russia and Iran – for its‎ repeated, gross violations of human rights and continued, deliberate targeting of civilians.” Without presenting any evidence of the alleged chemical weapons use in Douma, Freeland said on Friday "when it comes to this use of chemical weapons, it is clear to Canada that chemical weapons were used and that they were used by the Assad regime."

In her initial statement Freeland expressed Canada’s "admiration for … the White Helmets." Also known as the Syrian Civil Defense, the White Helmets produced the video purporting to show chemical weapons use in Douma.

On Friday Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed the White Helmets staged the video with help from the UK. Former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford largely endorsed Moscow’s position.

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