Both Trump and Putin have ego the size of a jumbo jet. But at a poker table, someone will eventually blink and lose the game. And the guy who has just blinked is U.S. President Donald Trump. Last week, the TV-reality star sent a rude shock to the global community when he authorized an attack on a Syrian airbase with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
American allies such as France and Britain were so excited with the assault on Syria that they almost orgasm. Trump shouted at the top of his lungs that he “will strike Syria again”. The foolish UK Secretary of State Boris Johnson went a step further. Choosing to count his chicken before they hatch, he declares war on Russia. Johnson scraps a scheduled trip to Moscow.
Considering that not even U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson dares cancelling his trip to Moscow, Johnson’s move was obviously premature. Not only Johnson wasted a significant trip, the first by a British foreign secretary in five years, he arrogantly calls for new sanctions against Russia, as if he was cock sure Trump will win a war on not only Syria but also Russia.
While almost all the world leaders aligned to the United States – including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and United Arab Emirates – were busy singing songs of praise to the U.S. president, Russian President Vladimir Putin calmly did five things. As appetizers, Russia’s embassy in London called Johnson “deplorable” and has even suggested “conventional war”.
While condemning the U.S. missile strike against Syrian government forces as an attack on its ally, Kremlin said it was suspending an agreement to minimize the risk of in-flight incidents between U.S. and Russian aircraft operating over Syria. Essentially, the U.S.-led coalition plunges into the dark about Russian forces and the risk of its air-defence systems shooting down U.S. aircraft.
Secondly, Putin immediately sent frigate Admiral Grigorovich to join the Russian battle group off the coast of Syria. Grigorovich carries Kalibr cruise missiles, the Russian equivalent to the U.S. Tomahawk missiles. Grigorovich alone was sufficient to intimidate two U.S. warships which had fired 59 Tomahawks earlier – the USS Ross and USS Porter.
Moscow also sent two Steregushchiy-class corvettes, support ships (and possibly submarines) to join Admiral Grigorovich. The modern Russian corvettes are capable of launching Kalibr-NK long range land attack cruise missiles, the same which travelled 1,500-km through Iranian and Iraqi airspace and struck targets Raqqa and Aleppo provinces.
The third thing that Putin did to force Trump into revealing his cards was making a joint statement with Iran – “What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”
Fourthly, Putin claims his source told him that the U.S. is ready to strike southern Damascus with the help of Syrian rebels who are plotting to mount a poison gas attack in Damascus and blame it on Bashar al-Assad’s government. It was a pre-emptive move to tell all and sundry that U.S. is responsible for any death of Russian advisers currently in Damascus.
It was also a clever plan to challenge Trump to attack Damascus with a risk of killing Russian troops, of which could be used as justification for Russia to start targeting hundreds of U.S. troops in Syria. If USS Porter and USS Ross could hit Syrian airbase with 59 Tomahawks, Russia’s Admiral Grigorovich and Steregushchiy-class corvettes could hit U.S. troops with 59 Kalibr-NK too.
Putin knew Trump cannot afford major casualties because as a CBS survey would show – only 18% Americans favour full U.S. military involvement, including ground troops, in Syria. And 69% believe the U.S. president needs to get authorization from Congress before taking further action. Trump would be in deep trouble if American troops are killed due to his involvement in Syrian War.
The fifth move was to simply refuse or pretend to be not interested of a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow. And to show that he was in control, Tillerson was made to wait for hours before granted an audience with President Vladimir Putin. Even after the meeting, Russia insults Tillerson for making a “useless visit” to Moscow.
That’s right, Putin made some moves which look as if Russia is ready to hit back at USA, if the U.S. dares to strikes Syria again, and the terrified Trump blinks and chickens out completely. In his latest interview, Trump said – “We’re not going into Syria. Our policy is the same – it hasn’t changed. We’re not going into Syria. Our big mission is getting rid of ISIS.”
Suddenly, the tough Captain America who called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a “butcher” and a “barbarian” for using sarin gas isn’t interested in getting rid of the monster anymore. He conveniently called his Tomahawk strike “an act of humanitarian”. If Assad was indeed responsible for gassing the innocence, Trump is a bigger fool for believing the butcher would not do it again.
Amusingly, Eric Trump has self-proclaimed that his father’s decision to launch a cruise missile attack on Syria proved he is not in league with Russia and will not be “pushed around” by the evil Vladimir Putin. Eric also proudly claimed that his father was not intimidated by President Putin’s talk of war. But that was not the best part about Trump dynasty.
The best part was when Eric confirmed that President Trump’s decision to bomb the Syrian airbase to punish Assad for a nerve gas attack last week was influenced by the reaction of his sister Ivanka, who said she was “heartbroken and outraged” by the atrocity. So, it was Ivanka’s tears that had moved the U.S. president for the attack, despite lack of proof Assad gassed his people.
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary “Mad Dog” Jim Mattis took pain to assure the world that tensions between the United States and Russia will not “spiral out of control”, describing it as a one-off Tomahawk strike at Syria. Previously, Mattis has repeatedly warned that the U.S. military remained ready to act again, in consistent with Trump’s pledge to strike again.
Let’s try to understand the fabulous spinning and twisting of Trump administration. The fearsome former General Mattis said there was no doubt that Damascus was responsible for using chemical weapon on innocent people. Trump and his beloved daughter were “heartbroken and outraged” by Assad’s brutality. Yet, suddenly it’s okay for Assad to be given a second chance?
In reality, Donald Trump, like his predecessor Barack Obama, is no match for Vladimir Putin. If one were to ask Putin again about playing chess with Trump, he would probably reply – “He’s no different from Obama. It’s like playing chess with a pigeon. First it knocks over all the pieces, then it shits on the board, and finally it struts around like it won.”
Again, former Russian opposition leader and chess world champion Garry Kasparov has this to offer – “We have to make sure we play chess, not poker. That’s because Putin, the one man dictatorship, is less dangerous playing chess. He is very good at playing poker.” That would explain how Putin easily check-mate Trump in the game of Syrian War.
True, Trump was a good Hollywood actor who probably thought he could outsmart Putin based on another “The Apprentice” story. But Putin is a proven tactician and strategist who had single-handedly annexed Crimea without triggering a major war. It’s true that Donald Trump is not in the same league with Russia – Vladimir Putin is better and smarter.
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