Sunday, April 15, 2018
Trump and Allies UK and France Demolish Three al-Assad Chemical Weapons Facilities
THE ONLY NEWS TODAY IS ABOUT SYRIA AND THE ATTACK ON ITS CHEMICAL WEAPONS FACILITIES. The attack has received wide support from around the world, including even al-Jazeera and many Syrians. The usual bunch of extreme Leftist radicals in Europe disagree, but their noisy protests focus often on process -- should the UK Parliament have been consulted -- than on substance -- the need to eliminate the possible use of lethal chemicals against his own people by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. • • • THE FACTS ABOUT THE ATTACK. Fox News summarized the facts well on Sunday : "The Pentagon said Saturday that the US-led allied missile strikes in Syria successfully hit all three targets and have 'significantly crippled' Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ability to make more chemical weapons. 'I think we dealt them a severe blow,' Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the Pentagon after the overnight bombing. 'We’ve attacked the heart of the Syrians’ chemical weapons program.' McKenzie identified the targets as Barzah Research and Development, the Him Shinshar Chemical Weapons Storage Site and the Him Shinshar Bunker Facility -- the al-Assad regime's weapons research and development center, chemical weapons storage facilities, and a military command post . He also said a total 105 missiles were launched by air and sea, all hitting their targets within minutes. The strikes, in Douma, near Damascus, were launched in response to evidence that the Assad regime killed civilians in an April 7 chemical attack, the latest in country’s years-long civil war. President Trump on Saturday hailed the strikes and thanked US allies for joining in the campaign. 'A perfectly executed strike last night,' he tweeted. 'Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!' " Pentagon officials said the allied forces’ attack was met with no resistance. • Fox News also published a satellite image, showing the Barzah Research and Development Center before and after the airstrikes that reveal crushing damage to structures at the target site. McKenzie reported that the guided-missile cruisier USS Monterey fired 30 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Red Sea, while the nearby guided-missile destroyer Laboon fired another seven. In the Persian Gulf, another destroyer, USS Higgins, fired launched 23. In the Mediterranean, US Navy submarine the John Warner launched six missiles. The allied effort included a French frigate launching missiles and French and British fighter jets. A pair of US Air Force B-1 bombers flying from Qatar under fighter escort launched 19 stand-off missiles. The Russians and Syrians claimed they shot down dozens of these missiles, but McKenzie said the Russians remained silent during the attack. Syria fired roughly 40 missiles wildly into the air, after the US and allied missiles had already landed, McKenzie said. “The Syrian response was remarkably ineffective in all domains,” he said. “That's probably the best answer I can give you. So they had no material impact on the strike.” • McKenzie, a Marine Corps general, said he has no reports of civilian casualties following the US-led strikes. McKenzie suggested that Syria still likely has some capability to make chemical weapons, despite the success of the attack : “I would say there's still a residual element. I'm not going to say they'll be unable to conduct a chemical attack in the future. I suspect, however, they'll think long and hard about it based on the activities of last night.” But, he called the gas attack "inexcusable," and he said the raids were "precise, overwhelming and effective," and have set Syria's chemical weapons program back ; "For years. These attacks on multiple axes were able to overwhelm the Syrian air defense systems. None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation was successfully engaged by the Syrian air defense system." That is in stark contrast to Syrian Armed Forces propaganda that said 110 missiles were fired on Syrian targets and that the country's defense systems "intercepted most of the missiles, but some hit targets, including the Research Center in Barzeh," north of Damascus. • Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said : “It’s intolerable for a civilized nation to use chemical weapons....This is a regime that murders its people daily.” White also said the United States is “very confident” that the Assad regime was behind the chemical weapons attack on civilians. White reported that the Russian disinformation campaign continues, saying there has been a 2,000 increase in Russian trolls on the internet, telling a different story than what reporters just heard at the Pentagon. White stressed that : "This operation does not represent a change in US policy, nor an attempt to depose the Syrian regime. The strikes were a justified, legitimate and proportionate response to the Syrian regime's continued use of chemical weapons on its own people. We do not seek conflict in Syria, but we cannot allow such grievous violations of international law. Our goal in Syria remains defeating ISIS, by, with and through the 70-nation coalition." • Heather Nauert, acting under secretary of state for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, on Saturday told Fox News : "I think the mission was a few things. One, to show the world that the use of chemical weapons and the killing of innocent civilians will not be tolerated. The United States has taken all of diplomatic efforts, for many months now, for many years as a matter of fact. President Trump has lead the way on that. We have tried at the United Nations. We have tried at the European Union. We have had many conversations with our allies and partners around the world to bring this horrendous plight to the attention of the world." • UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Saturday morning in a press briefing that she had authorized British armed forces "to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability." She described it as a "limited and targeted strike" aimed at minimizing civilian casualties. • French President Emmanuel Macron said : "We cannot tolerate the employment of chemical weapons." • US Defense Secretary and retired Marine General Jim Mattis called the strikes a "one time shot," but Trump raised the prospect of further strikes if Assad's government again uses chemical weapons : "We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents," the President said in a televised address announcing the attack. Mattis, referring to the US strike in Syria in April 2017, said : "Clearly, the Assad regime did not get the message last year. Together we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable." He stressed that "right now, we have no additional attacks planned." • • • THE RUSSIA-SYRIA PROPAGANDA MACHINE'S FAKE NEWS VS REAL NEWS. Russia's news agency TASS reported that none of the missiles fired by the three western nations struck areas near its naval and air bases in Syria that come under the protection of Russian air defense units. That is true, but the Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov issued a statement via Twitter condemning the attack : "A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences. All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris." • Israel Hayom news online reported : "The Syrian conflict pits a complex myriad of parties against each other with Russia and Iran giving Assad military and political help while fractured opposition forces have had varying levels of support at different times from the West, Arab states and Turkey. The strikes risked raising tension in an already combustible region but appeared designed not to trigger a military response from Russia and Iran. Syrian state media said the attack would fail and called it a 'flagrant violation of international law.' Syria media reported Saturday that at least six loud explosions were heard in Damascus and smoke was seen rising over the city. A senior official in a regional alliance that backs Damascus said that the Syrian government and its allies had 'absorbed' the attack, and that targeted sites were evacuated days ago thanks to a warning from Russia. Allegations of Assad's use of chlorine gas have been frequent in Syria's conflict, raising questions about whether Washington had lowered the threshold for military action in Syria by now deciding to strike after a chlorine gas attack. It is unclear whether the strike would affect Trump's plan to withdraw roughly 2,000 troops who are in Syria as part of the battle against Islamic State. The airstrikes, however, risk dragging the United States further into Syria's civil war, particularly if Russia, Iran and Assad opt to retaliate. 'America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria, under no circumstances,' Trump said in his eight-minute address. 'The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,' he said." • While Russia called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in order ot present its draft resolution condemning the attack, its headcount of support in the UNSC was apparently non-existent. US Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley told a Security Council meeting Saturday that "If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded" during the debate on the Russian resolution. The Security Council rejected Russia's demand that it denounce the strikes in Syria. Russia's draft resolution that said the Security Council "condemns the aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic by the US and its allies in violation of international law and the UN Charter." The UNSC vote was overwhelming -- Russia, China and Bolivia voted in favor of Moscow’s emergency resolution, well short of the nine “yes” votes needed. The Security Council has five permanent members -- the US, France, Great Britain, China and Russia – and 10 rotating members. The rotating members currently are Bolivia, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, and Sweden. Only Bolivia sided with permanent members Russia and China in support for the Russian resolution. • • • WILL RUSSIA NOW SUPPLY AL-ASSAD WITH S-300 MISSILES. Israel Hayom reported on Sunday that Russia said it has, in the past, "refused" to supply Syria with advanced missile defense system over "pressing request of some of our Western partners," but will now review issue "not only in regard to Syria but to other countries as well," according to a Russian general. Israel Hayom reported : "The strike outraged Moscow, an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the strike as an 'act of aggression,' saying, 'Russia in the most serious way condemns the attack on Syria where Russian military servicemen help the legitimate government to fight terrorism.' Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the actions of the US, UK and France in Syria as 'unacceptable and lawless.' Commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi said Saturday that Russia was considering equipping 'Syria and other countries' with the anti-missile defense system, adding that Russia had 'refused' supplying those missiles to Syria a few years ago over the 'pressing request of some of our Western partners.' Following the US-led strikes, however, 'we consider it possible to return to the examination of this issue not only in regard to Syria but to other countries as well,' Rudskoi said. He noted that 'in the past year and a half Russia has fully restored Syria’s air defense system and continues to further upgrade it.' " The S-300 is a long-range surface-to-air missile system designed to counter aircraft and cruise missile attacks." • • • WILL REBELS NOW BE EVEN MORE TARGETED BY AL-ASSAD. Israel Hayom reported on Sunday that Syrian rebels fear a "revenge" onslaught by the al-Assad regime and Iran. Iran's supreme leader denounced airstrikes as "a crime" that would bring no benefit. I clearly declare that the President of the United States, the president of France and the British prime minister are criminals," Khamenei said in a speech, according to his Twitter account. "They will not benefit [from the attack] in the same way they went to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in the past years and committed such crimes and did not gain any benefits," Khamenei added. • Israel Hayom wrote : "The Syrian opposition said Western strikes on Saturday would not change the course of the seven-year war in Syria, while the Syrian army said it would crush remaining rebel-held parts of the country....rebels and opposition leaders said the Western powers should also hit Assad's conventional weapons, which have killed many more people during the war. Some insurgent officials said they feared an onslaught against the rebel bastion in Idlib, which a senior Iranian official has indicated could be the next target. 'Maybe the regime will not use chemical weapons again, but it will not hesitate to use weapons,' opposition leader Nasr al-Hariri said. A rebel fighter said he was bracing for further attacks as 'revenge' by the government and its allies on rebel territory in the northwest, including the Idlib region. 'More was expected from the American strike to affect the path of the war and to curb Assad's crimes,' he told Reuters from Hama province." • Captain Adulsalam Abdulrazek, a former officer in Syria's chemical program, said the overnight strikes probably hit "parts of, but not the heart" of the operation. Abdulrazek said there were an estimated 50 warehouses storing chemical weapons before the program was dismantled in 2013. He said he believed those fixed storage facilities, mostly in rural areas, are intact or only slightly dispersed, and that the program was only partly dismantled because Damascus refused to allow inspections." • IHS Jane's expert Karl Dewey, said the scientific research facility on the northeastern edge of Damascus is thought to have integrated chemical payloads onto artillery. • After the suspected gas attack, rebels in Douma finally surrendered the town. This clinched a big victory for Assad, wiping out the last insurgent pocket in the eastern Ghouta region, near the capital. • Israel Hayom stated that : "The Syrian civil war has been going Assad's way since Russia intervened in his defense in 2015. From holding less than one-fifth of Syria in 2015, Assad now controls most of the country because of Russian and Iranian help....The Syrian presidency posted a video appearing to show Assad arriving for work on Saturday morning, a few hours after the US-led attack, dressed in a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase. Though swathes of Syria remain beyond his grasp, the insurgency currently poses no military threat to his rule." • The opposition has praised US President Trump for taking action against Assad after criticizing his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for failing to enforce his own red line when Assad used poison gas on civilians in 2013. But they want more. A rebel commander told reporters : "The strike has weakened the regime, but has not strengthened the opposition." • Israel Hayom says of Iran : "The bigger challenge for Assad will be rebel territory at the frontiers with Turkey, Jordan and Israel, and the swathe of eastern and northern Syria which Kurdish-led militias control with support from the United States. Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on a visit to Damascus this week, said he hoped Syria and its allies would soon drive US troops from the country. He also said he hoped the rebels would be driven out of the city of Idlib in northwestern Syria very soon. Shiite militias backed by Teheran have helped al-Assad's army stem rebel advances and, following Russia's entry into the war in 2015, turn the tide decisively in the Syrian government's favor. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that the US-led missile attacks would lead to further destruction in the Middle East, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. 'Such attacks will have no result but more destruction...the Americans want to justify their presence in the region by such attacks,' Rouhani was quoted as saying, signaling that Iran's support for Assad would grow stronger. An official in Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Islamic republic's most powerful military arm, said fallout from the attacks would ultimately harm Washington. 'With this attack...the situation will become more complex, and this will surely be at the expense of the United States, which will be responsible for the aftermath of upcoming regional events that will certainly not be in their interest,' Yadollah Javani, the Guards' deputy head for political affairs, told Fars news agency. 'The resistance front will be strengthened and it will have more capacity to act against [US] acts of intervention. Americans should expect the consequences of their actions,' Javani said. Iran often refers to regional countries and forces opposed to Israel and the United States as a 'resistance front.' " • • • THE UN WEIGHS IN. UN Secretary General António Guterres warned during the UNSC emergency meeting on Friday that the Middle East is in such "chaos" that it has become a threat to international peace and security, adding that Syria "represents the most serious threat." Guterres told the emergency meeting that the highly volatile situation in the region risks "escalation, fragmentation and division as far as the eye can see, with profound regional and global ramifications. The Cold War is back -- with a vengeance but with a difference," Guterres warned -- the safeguards and mechanisms that managed the risk of escalation between the US and the Soviet Union in the past "no longer seem to be present." Guterres cited the Palestinian-Israeli divide, the Sunni-Shiite divide "evident from the Gulf to the Mediterranean," opposing attitudes on the Moslem Brotherhood and the status of the Kurds, threats to communities that have lived in the region for millennia, and other factors : "This multiplicity of divides is reflected in a multiplicity of conflicts with different degrees of interconnection, several of them clearly linked to the threat of global terrorism." In what Guterres called a "bleak panorama," he said he was "outraged" by continued reports of chemical weapons use in Syria. He strongly supporteded the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' fact-finding mission to investigate last weekend's suspected poison gas attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma, saying the first OPCW team is already in Syria and "a second is expected today or tomorrow." The secretary general urged the divided Security Council that has been paralyzed over Syria to agree on a new body to determine responsibility for chemical attacks. • • • ISRAEL'S COMMENTS ON THE ATTACK. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday praised the US-led strikes on Syrian targets and warned that Iran's presence there further endangers Syria's future. A statement released by Netanyahu's office said : "A year ago, I declared Israel's full support for President Trump's decision to take a stand against the use and spread of chemical weapons. President Trump's resolve and Israel's support remain unchanged. Early this morning, under American leadership, the United States, France and the United Kingdom demonstrated that their commitment is not limited to proclamations of principle. It should be clear to President Assad that his reckless efforts to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, his wanton disregard for international law and his provision of a forward base for Iran and its proxies endanger Syria." • Both Israel and the US confirmed that Israel had been notified before the strikes, but provided no further details. US Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday Syria would have a "price to pay" if its military conducts another chemical weapons attacks. Pence said Trump "made clear that the United States of America is prepared to sustain this effort to reestablish the deterrent framework that exists in order that the Syrian regime and its patrons know there will be a price to pay if chemicals weapons are used again against men, women and children." Vice President Pence added that the strike "degraded and crippled chemical weapons capabilities of Syria. I think the President's expressions this morning were a strong affirmation that the mission that he gave our military to go in and destroy key elements of the chemical weapons infrastructure in Syria was completely, professionally and swiftly accomplished." Israel Hayom reported that Israeli officials heaped praise on Trump for his decision to strike Assad's chemical arsenals. • But, Israel Today reported on Sunday that : "Iran wants Israel and her Western allies to understand that if they continue interfering in Syria, it is the Jewish state that will pay the heaviest price. 'If Israel wants to survive a few more days, it has to stop this childish game,' insisted Ali Shirazi, the liaison between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian military's Quds Force. Shirazi stressed that 'Iran has the capability to destroy Israel and given the excuse, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be razed to the ground.' " • • • ISRAEL SUPPORT FOR TRUMP CONFIRMED. Israel Hayom wrote an long essay about the attack on Syria's chemicals facilities. In it, Israel Hayom said : "Although it was cautious and limited in nature, the US missile strike in Syria early Saturday morning -- carried out with America's British and French allies against Syria's chemical weapons infrastructure -- delivered a clear and concise message that deviates from the specific context of the civil war. To be sure, this operation inherently consists of an uncompromising commitment to exact a price from other renegade states as well and to take punitive action against them every time they cross red lines. This attack, therefore, can be seen as a red card for Bashar Assad. At the same time, however, it can be understood as a yellow card for Moscow, Teheran and Pyongyang, and as a signal that the Barack Obama era of appeasement and feebleness is over. So it happened that while the 44th President didn't respond to the massive chemical weapon attack perpetrated by the Syrian regime against a defenseless civilian population in September 2013, despite previously vowing to do so, the current White House, for the second time in a year, has exhibited decisiveness, credibility and leadership in the face of Damascus' crimes – even if it only pertains to the sphere of chemical weapons. Moreover, even though the risk of military action is currently far greater in comparison to the situation in 2103...the American President didn't hesitate to act under challenging conditions. Indeed, after the deal to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons arsenal was again exposed as a disgrace -- a deal which a flustered Obama concocted with the Kremlin to replace America's promised retaliation -- the American hegemon's response was quick to follow, even if its objective was not to alter the overall balance of power in the war-torn country. Although it signaled an end to eight years of American weakness and inaction in the international arena, the pinpoint airstrike also illustrated the administration's desire to avoid direct and hazardous conflict with the Kremlin in an arena where Russian President Vladimir Putin has already established dominance. Therefore, what we saw was a controlled and focused operation, limited to addressing the unconventional weapons sphere....Alongside the desire to minimize its direct involvement in international conflicts and crises, the US is now increasingly determined to return to a leadership position that will raise the spirits of those defenseless communities that have fallen victim to murderous chemical attacks and instill confidence in America's loyal allies, like Israel and South Korea. After all, both Jerusalem and Seoul have long been threatened by the 'axis of evil' and Teheran and Pyongyang's relentless strive to develop a nuclear bomb. In light of all this, the last missile attack should signal to Rouhani and Kim that the rules of the game have changed, and the 'America First' principle does not mean the US intends to stand on the sidelines when it comes to crimes against humanity or attempts to acquire the ability to carry out such crimes. We have then before us a more determined, if not sufficiently comprehensive, Western front in the face of the challenges that lie ahead. Germany's absence from the coalition airstrikes was surprising and begged the question : Is the barbaric use of poisonous gas as a means of extermination so distant from the German consciousness and its history? All that remains is to wait and see whether this increasing determination will also shape the Western powers' positions on the future of the Iran nuclear deal, especially in light of the blatant failure of the deal to disarm Syria of chemical weapons." • • • DEAR READERS, to add to the horror of the al-Assad chemical attack, it now is being said by Trump administration officials, that in addition to the Pentagon's labeling the gas used as chlorien, there as a sarin nerve agent included in the gas used in the Douma attack. The US official, according to the Guardian, said, “We assess that chlorine and sarin were used in the attack,” the official said, pointing as evidence to the nature of the victims’ symptoms, such as the narrowing of pupils in their eyes, and the effects on their nervous systems, along with the sheer lethality of the gas. "Those symptoms don’t come from chlorine - they come from sarin,” she added. Officials said that there was evidence that chlorine and sarin have been used by the regime on multiple occasions since the last US air strikes in April 2017, and expressed anger at Russia for blocking all other attempts to rein Bashar al-Assad’s behavior, at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and at the UN Security Council, where Russia voted six times to stop the continuation of UN watchdog body empowered to investigate chemical weapons attacks and attribute responsibility for carrying them out. “Russia has failed,” the senior administration official said. “Putin has four years to make good on his commitment to rid Syria of chemical weapons use. The President was not just going to wait around for Russia to mount yet another disinformation campaign that would deflect attention from the fact that Russia is the one that’s enabling Syria to continue on with this behavior.” • Meanwhile, President Trump's address to the nation on Friday evening made several clear points. First, the attack was carried out in coordination with Great Britain and France, that is an attack by the leaders of the West, and not a standalone US attack as occurred last year. The message is obvious : President Trump has the support of the Free World in punishing the al-Assad regime. Second, Trump addressed Russia and Iran directly, challenging them on their support for al-Assad. Trump not only put Russia and Iran on notice that their actions bring them into conflict with the US, he also highlighted the moral basis for the military strikes against Syria and destroyed the basis for Russia's and Iran's support for Assad -- whom they have always argued is a legitimate government defending itself against terrorism -- Trump said that since World War I, civilized nations have agreed that no legitimate government would use chemical weapons. • The American Thinker's J.M. Phelps on Sunday quoted retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Bob Maginnis, who said : “we targeted them as a message. A year after the first incident in which we responded with cruise missiles, the second incident is more severe because obviously they didn’t understand the intent of the first message.” Maginnis noted that “given the fact that chemical weapons are known to be in the possession of the Iranians, the North Koreans, and obviously the Syrians,” he believes this warrants the US involvement for the stability of the world : “There were concerns that if the proliferation of these weapons is not dealt with decisively as they were last evening and a year ago, frankly, they could easily proliferate. Rogues like Bashar Assad, Kim Jong-un, and others are more than willing to sell these types of deadly substances to anyone that can afford them.” Maginnis gave the example of North Korea supplying chemical weapons to the Syrian government for the past two years, stating that the civilized world cannot ignore the sale and use of such weapons. • Has the US, with Britain and France, sent a really clear message to al-Assad, Russia and Iran? Ambassador Haley's "locked and loaded" comment at the UNSC is certainly unambiguous. And, what about North Korea's sales of chemical weapons and Russia's involvement in their use in the UK assassination attempt on Russian double-spy Skripal? It is hard to believe the Russians want a direct confrontation with the United States. They were quick to move their very small naval presence away from the Syrian coast when President Trump first told the media an attack was imminent. The thruth is that the US could eliminate the entire Russian surface fleet in an afternoon. So, despite his blustering and fist-shaking, we can bet that Putin will play his hand very carefully. • Can the US and her allies prevent further humanitarian catastrophes from rogue regimes like that of Bashar al-Assad? Barbaric actions such as his need to be controlled, but the Trump position is that the US should leave Syria soon and leave its control to the Arab members of the US coalition he put together. Are the Arabs equipped to take on the control of chemical weapons use in the Middle East -- not if the past is any indication. We all remember the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein against Iranian ground troops and his own people. But, that was before Donald Trump made his presence felt in the region. • One point is largely in President Trump's favor -- the American people support his intervention to punish the users of chemical weapons. They were angered by President Obama's non-action in Syria and they believe President Trump is doing the right thing. However, while President Trump has greatly improved the overall position of countries attacked by ISIS in sending in US troops to oversee the successful elimination of ISIS as a major threat, the very beating back of ISIS may make their cells consider the acquisition and use of chemical weapons -- from NK or Iran or Russia, who knows. And, as long as Kin Jong-un remains unsubdued, his capability to sell chemical and nuclear weapons to rogue states and terrorist groups remains a real threat to the world. This, if nothing else, makes President Trump's aggressive message to al-Assad and Russia and Iran important. It has surely been heard in North Korea. The axis of evil may not be totally destroyed -- it is hard to eliminate whole countries and such a tactic would kill millions of people -- but, it is now clear that the US has the determination and the superior armaments in its arsenal to pinpoint attacks anywhere in North Korea, anywhere in Iran, and anywhere that Russia stirs up its grim current version of the Cold War. That is the deterrent America successfully wielded from 1945 until 2008. It is being re-established by a President Trump determined to protect the world from evil by acting. That alone makes the use of chemical weapons on a large scale or in the heart of Europe or North America much less likely. And, now, the allied West and Israel must take on the job of helping the Arabs as they assume their role as protectors of the Middle East -- assuredly with the overwhelming deterrent of the US as back-up.