The Melkite Cathedral in Damascus
Whether or not DJT has a private channel of communication to the Russian leadership remains an open question for me. Those who love to think of history as an endless series of conspiratorial meetings favor the idea that DJT and VP agreed on the level of damage that would be acceptable given the fury of the gas hysteria of the last week. There well may be such a link conducted through US Embassy Moscow. I hope there is such a link.
In any event, Trump obviously chose one of the more inoffensive options offered to him by the JCS and James Mattis. Was this always going to be the case in a Trumpian display of manipulation of the neocons, the brass and the media? Or did Mattis successfully wrestle Bolton for control of Trump's decision? The truth is concealed behind DJT's grin and somewhat obscured by his low hanging locks.
These targets were not derived from some wonderful feat of intelligence collection and analysis. These facilities were in DIA's data base 23 years ago when I left DIA. On a visit to Syria way back then, I drove around the country with the US military attache to these and a number of other facilities so that I could see them myself for future reference in a crisis. We gave data on these targets to the Israelis as part of our ongoing cooperation.
So far, so good, but there is a built in future menace in what is being said of this attack program. It is that an absence of future attacks is contingent on an absence of supposed future chemical attacks.
Therefore it is easy to see that whenever the rebels/jihadis want the government attacked they can stage manage more chemical attacks.
IMO if that occurs there would be an inevitable escalation of targeting until the core combat assets of the R+6 are the targets. pl