War games

War games

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As last week drew to a close, President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on the Al Shayrat airbase in Syria. U.S. Navy warships in the Mediterranean Sea rained dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles down on the target, turning the base into a smoking pile of rubble while crippling nearly 20 percent of Syria’s fixed-wing fleet.  The missiles also delivered a none-too-subtle message to not only WMD-using Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but any other tinpot dictators who might be considering a run at the title: There’s a new sheriff in town, and homeboy ain’t afraid to flash some steel. And by ordering the launch during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump also flexed enough muscle to convince the Chinese to play ball; as demonstrated by China’s halt of coal to North Korea.

The strike was a geopolitical master stroke by a game theory virtuoso. By showing the Russians minor deference in warning them ahead of time, but still dropping a cinder block on Assad’s toes, Trump deftly tiptoed through a diplomatic minefield and even buried rumors of a secret connection to Russia in the process.

Or…

Trump lobbed millions of dollars of military hardware at Syria to distract people’s attention from an ongoing scandal involving his connection to Russia. Despite all the crowing, the strike was largely ineffective. The whole thing was a “wag-the-dog” ploy; as worthwhile as Bill Clinton’s late-90s launches into the Sudan. In doing so, he further destabilized an already-shaky situation in the Middle East and antagonized the North Koreans, who will probably end up on the business end of a few Tomahawks themselves.

By ordering the strike during Xi’s vacay in Mar-a-Lago, Trump cemented the idea that he’s a loose cannon; prompting Xi to move unilaterally to curtail coal shipments to North Korea in an effort to be the lone adult in the region.

Or…

Trump ordered the strike — less than 12 hours after his former nemesis Hillary Clinton publicly declared her support for just such a move — because he, Hillary, Putin and Xi are all just pawns of the same globalist villains. The strike was nothing more than another chapter in civilization’s acceptance of permanent, eventually total war. Hell, Assad didn’t even launch the Sarin attack in the first place; it was all a false flag operation.

Or…

Trump is a buffoon who likes the idea of blowing stuff up, which makes him a perfect dupe for the chickenhawks and neocons.

Or…

Trump is a genius who just shut the door on eight years of Obama’s mewling appeasement. The USA is back, baby!

None of the above scenarios exist entirely outside the realm of possibility, but they do leave the outside observer wondering who could possibly benefit from such tangled alliances. On a whim, I happened to peek at Raytheon’s stock price. The company that manufactures Tomahawk cruise missiles is trading north of $150/share; not an all-time high, but an exceedingly healthy 20 percent leap over a year ago.  With nearly 300 million shares outstanding, that’s enough money to Tomahawk everyone from Damascus to the DMZ without batting an eye.  In the game of war, there’s your winner.

— Ben Crystal

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