Trump Was Presented With 3 Options On Syria, Picked The Least Expensive One

The White House took roughly a week to retaliate against the Syrian regime for a gas attack on a rebel-held city as Trump was distracted by the FBI's raid on the home, hotel and office of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the ongoing negotiations over Nafta and his burgeoning war against Amazon.

While Trump alienated much of his noninterventionist base by ordering the strikes, it also appears that the president somehow resisted the temptation to go full neocon - opting instead for the most mild, and least costly, of the alternatives presented to him by Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to the Wall Street Journal.


The decision "marked the first substantive test of the group now that John Bolton is serving as Mr. Trump's national security adviser," per WSJ.

After days of tense White House meetings, the president and his advisers agreed on one of the most restrained of the military-strike options crafted by the Pentagon: a powerful missile attack aimed at three targets meant to hobble the Syrian regime’s ability to use chemical weapons and deter President Bashar al-Assad from using them again.

While world leaders across the West applauded the strikes (even when they had declined to participate, as Italy and Germany did), the Syrian military said its air defenses had intercepted 71 out of 103 cruise missiles launched during the coalition assault.


Ultimately, Trump decided on the most conservative option for a strike against three buildings that comprised what Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie described as "the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program."

The weapons presented to the president included the following:

The most conservative option would have hit a narrow set of targets related to Syria’s chemical-weapons capabilities.

The second option proposed strikes on a broader set of Syrian regime targets, including suspected chemical-weapons research facilities and military command centers.

The most expansive proposal, which might have included strikes on Russian air defenses in Syria, was designed to cripple the regime’s military capabilities without touching Mr. Assad’s political machinery.

The most ambitious of the proposals was three times the size of the one eventually carried out by U.S., British and French forces.

Eventually, Trump approved a hybrid plan that constituted a melding of the first two options: modest missile strikes that targeted what are believed to be the country's chemical weapons manufacturing facilities.

Trump pressed his team to also consider strikes on Russian and Iranian targets in Syria if necessary following reports that Assad had moved planes to Russian facilities to help protect them. But Mattis pushed back, those familiar with the decision-making said. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley joined Trump in advocating for a forceful response, while Mattis warned about the risks that a more expansive strike could trigger a dangerous response from Moscow and Tehran.

It's believed that, for now at least, Bolton has decided to hang back and defer to Mattis, believing that Trump has

Mr. Bolton knew the respect Mr. Trump had for Mr. Mattis, and he may have decided that it was wise to defer initially to the Pentagon chief after he started the job, according to the people familiar with the decision-making. When the two first met at the Pentagon a few weeks ago, Mr. Mattis jokingly told Mr. Bolton that he had heard he was “the devil incarnate,” a reputation the new national security chief understood followed him into the West Wing.

Mr. Bolton also realized that the most robust option might drag the U.S. more deeply into the conflict and force him to take responsibility for a greater U.S. role in the civil war, according to the people familiar with the decision-making. He felt that was too much for his first week on the job, they said.

The White House has insisted that Trump has no intention of pulling troops out of Syria, despite French President Emmanuel Macron's claim that he had convinced Trump to keep an American presence in Syria for the long term.

Furthermore, with a range of viewpoints represented among members of Trump's national security team, the consensus view has become more much more moderate.

The eventual U.S. decision was the work of a national-security team still taking shape. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo has been nominated to become Mr. Trump’s second secretary of state, replacing Rex Tillerson, who was an ally of Mr. Mattis in previous administration national-security debates. Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel, nominated to replace Mr. Pompeo, is bracing for tough questions from senators about her role in overseeing harsh post-Sept. 11 interrogation techniques.

Like Mr. Bolton, Mr. Pompeo is also widely viewed as favoring an assertive foreign policy. When he appeared before senators last week for his confirmation hearing, Mr. Pompeo said his image as a military hawk was mistaken.

Still, Messrs. Bolton and Pompeo are aligned in wanting to take a more forceful approach toward Iran and North Korea, two of America’s most troubling adversaries.

With so much at stake in the coming months - Trump's tentatively planned meeting with North Korea and his final decision on whether to pull the US out of the Iran deal are just two of the priorities - Trump's national security team has apparently decided that the most cautious approach when it comes to Syria is probably the best approach. After all, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has made abundantly clear in his rhetoric, Russia wouldn't hesitate to respond with force if tensions in Syria continue to escalate.


Gaius Frakkin'… D.T.Barnum Mon, 04/16/2018 - 15:42 Permalink

Because flying a drone along the border and stinging a fence hopper with a dart must be too expensive and too provocative or Trump would have been given this option to defend the US instead of lobbing millions in cruise missiles in an irrelevant civil war halfway across the world.

The state of American strategery: Give the people nothing and blame their anger on Russian troll farms. This will surely lead to victory.

In reply to by D.T.Barnum

pods Shemp 4 Victory Mon, 04/16/2018 - 16:04 Permalink

If this was the best option that OJ had, maybe he better use his "You're fired!" line on some more assholes in his cabinet/Executive branch.

Cause right now he is not making friends. At this point IDGAF.  Let the Chinks crash the dollar. At least the warmongering bastards in DC will not be able to pay their mercs to shoot missiles, nor buy new ones.

Impeach the rotten bastard for war crimes, or 36DD chess, whatever you want to call it.


In reply to by Shemp 4 Victory

Brazen Heist BangDingOw Mon, 04/16/2018 - 16:33 Permalink

My oh my what has this world come to. Fake, fake, fake everywhere you look. A world of superficiality and keeping up appearances. I blame social media for alot of this, where everything has become about image and instant gratification. Things like critical thinking and lateral thinking are out of the door in this type of world, where emotion and hyperbole rule. Retrogression much? Roles like the Presidency, are now relegated to fucking Twatter.

The world is becoming more complex, yet communication is becoming more juvenile, such as squeezing complex issues in 140 character tweets. I've always called it dumbocracy for a good reason.

In reply to by BangDingOw

Adolph.H. Brazen Heist Mon, 04/16/2018 - 16:45 Permalink

Study how ww2 got started and what's in history books nowadays. 

You'll find the same kind of blatant lies.

For instance, it is Poland who declared war on Germany in 1939, not the other way round. 

What to conclude from the lies we see? They will become reality in future history books if the empire wins, because they will use these as a verified historical chronicle to write their history and declare it official. 

Napoleon once said that history is written by the victors. 


It's okay not to be a Jew.

In reply to by Brazen Heist

Brazen Heist Adolph.H. Mon, 04/16/2018 - 16:56 Permalink

Napoleon was onto something there...

Example, we often hear about the Cuban Missile Crisis, how Russia was the evil baddie moving nuclear weapons to Cuba. Well guess what? What they left out was that Russia was responding to US aggression in Turkey, where nukes were moved first. We never get to hear about the Turkish Missile Crisis, do we? No, no, that is something critical minds are supposed to dig up on their own. Just imagine how many other events in history are deceptively presented!

This is why I am very sceptical of this chemical weapons bullshit. You know why? Every time imperialism opens its mouth it begins with big, fat, stinking deception:

"There's no doubt"........

No doubt? Oh, you mean like religion is so certain about the most uncertain things in life? LoL. Happens all too often...

In reply to by Adolph.H.

HardAssets Yellow_Snow Mon, 04/16/2018 - 17:38 Permalink

He could have insisted that there be a full investigation first. He could have asked the simplest question ‘Why would Assad do such a thing when he aready won the war ?’


This story is likely b.s. , like the Benghazi ‘photos’ of the politicians pretending to watch the supposed raid live. Who knows if Trump even gives the commands now ?  The Deep State pukes & banksters pulled off a coup of the American government a long time ago.

In reply to by Yellow_Snow

caconhma Give Me Some Truth Mon, 04/16/2018 - 17:48 Permalink

It was the lie concocted by the same people who supposedly discussed how to follow on.

Just remember: Trump is a fraud, a fake President. He decides close to nothing.

Do you really think that Trump ever read anything? No, he just signs what his handlers put on his desk.

I remember Trump was interviewed flying on the Airforce 1. In the background, Trump and his advisers were watching a golf tournament. Being a real US President is not his job.

In reply to by Give Me Some Truth

greenskeeper carl Erek Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:11 Permalink

Until we are sure of what? Lets say we are sure Assad used some poison gas on people. How, exactly, does that become out business? And how does it threaten our security? And how does the US have any moral high ground to stand on when we have been responsible for the deaths of far more children in recent years than the Assad regime?

In reply to by Erek