Open Letter to President Trump


Dear President Trump, I applaud you for taking a stand against Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people.  I also applaud your removal of Steve Bannon from the National Security Council (NSC).  His appointment to your cabinet was controversial enough and his inclusion on the NSC was unprecedented and polarizing.  However, warning the Russians before sending 60 Tomahawk missiles into your intended target demonstrates that you do not have a firm grasp of how to employ military power as a means to achieving national interests.  The military option is one of five means to project power or achieve national interest.  The other four are: Diplomatic, Information, and Economic means.  The military option is usually the last because it involves the potential loss of lives, and by design is meant to be lethal and destructive.  You don't surprise attack someone and tell them you are going to attack them?  That violates every tenant of military operations.  If you felt the need to warn the Russians, then the military response was not the right application of national power.  Next time be less specific as to your intent, and please inform Congress before the Russians.  Something like, The United States is considering a range of options to include military in response to Bashar al-Assad's sarin gas chemical attack, and we will respond in the next 48 hours.  This provides a warning if you absolutely feel that strongly about warning them, without giving away your whole intent.

President Obama was confronted with a similar situation when he executed the raid on the Pakistani compound housing Osama Bin Laden.  He approved a military operation in Pakistani air-space, within the borders of a sovereign nation without Pakistan's approval or notifying them in advance.  He didn't do so because that would have risked mission failure, and needlessly further endangered American service members lives.  We know the outcome... Conversely, you chose to warn the Russians which diminished the intended impact of the mission and we are probably lucky all of the missiles weren't intercepted, or a pre-emptive attack wasn't launched on the ships that fired the missles.

Hopefully you being moved by the sight off the slaughter of innocent civilians will cause you to reexamine your policy on immigration with respect to Syria and other war refugees.  That is how you lead and shape world opinion and marginalize your adversaries.  You may not want to be the leader of the free world, but it comes with the job.