“GOOD SOULS WILL NOT BE HUMILIATED”– So tweets Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad after the United States, Great Britain and France started dropping some heavy ordinance in and around Damascus. Though the Microsoft translation wasn’t as accurate:


The Assad regime are not good souls, and in any case, the chances are Father Trump might indeed humiliate them. As I wrote two days ago, the bombing will most likely be the extent of the Western response – “doing something” to show the displeasure at the use of chemical weapons, but not so much as to get dragged into a land war with Syria and Russia.

This is a political no-win situation for Trump. Large parts of his base are isolationist and hostile to any further military engagements in the Middle East. Equally large parts of the left who have previously clamoured for action will suddenly become stridently anti-war now that Trump has acted. What he has done will be either too little or too much. His motives will continue to be impugned; the bombing will either be portrayed as a “wag the dog” distraction from domestic problems (even if it’s being done in conjunction with two other countries) and his announcement of a few days ago of a possible military action in Syria will continue to be damned as a warning to his mate Putin to get out of the harm’s way (even though some military response in the wake of the Douma gassing was very likely in any case). The bombing will not be enough to remove or even seriously inconvenience Assad, but even if it was, there is no Plan B for Syria.