Israel Rejects Trump's 'Mission Accomplished' Claim

This week, referring to the US-led strike on Syria, President Donald Trump echoed the phrase "Mission Accomplished", the infamously premature claim made by former President George W. Bush in reference to winning the Iraq war. For those who may not remember that story, President Bush launched the war in Iraq on March 20, 2003. Only 6 weeks later, May 1, 2003, President Bush held a bombastic victory celebration.

In a scene reminiscent of the movie Independence Day, the president personally flew aboard a Lockheed S-3 Viking fighter jet, which landed on the deck of the SS Abraham Lincoln to the televised cheers of American servicemen. While it was great optics that suggested that President Bush, who once belonged to the Texas Air National Guard, had flown the jet himself - the truth is that Bush was merely a passenger.

As a side note, while Bush did join the Air National Guard to avoid being sent to Vietnam, he failed to meet Air Force attendance requirements and was suspended. After strings were pulled by his father, who, at the time was Nixon's Ambassador to the United Nations, George W. was able to receive an honorable discharge the month I was born - October of 1973.

After a photo op of the troops next to the president in his flight suit, Bush changed into more formal attire and gave a speech to the world declaring the American victory in Iraq. In the background, a gigantic "Mission Accomplished" sign was draped across the naval carrier at the instructions of the White House. The premature claim of victory came back to haunt the president. After the disastrous decision to disband the Iraqi military, the unemployed soldiers turned to mercenary work as insurgents and the war exploded. And fifteen years later, the battle rages on.

So, with apparent oversight, following the relatively benign US-led missile strikes on Syria on the night of Friday the 13th, President Trump tweeted the "Mission Accomplished" line - a choice he must have instantly regretted, given the universal public mockery that resulted. But what matters here are not the japes of media pundits. What matters is that the state of Israel does not believe that the mission was actually accomplished.

On April 17th, Israeli intelligence officials said that the objectives of the United States were not accomplished by the strikes. The officials said that Syrian President Bashar al Assad continues to maintain chemical weapons stockpiles, launch capabilities and the military strength to carry out more chemical weapon attacks.

One senior defense establishment official said, "If President Trump had ordered the strike only to show that the US responded to Assad's use of chemical weapons, then that goal has been achieved. But if there was another objective—such as paralyzing the ability to launch chemical weapons or deterring Assad from using it again—it's doubtful any of these objectives have been met."

A member of the Israeli intelligence establishment said, "The statement of 'Mission Accomplished' and that Assad's ability to use chemical weapons has been fatally hit has no basis."

You may have begun to hear claims in US media this week that President Assad hasn't only used chemical weapons against his people once or twice, but that he has actually done it over a hundred times. The source of those claims is the Israeli Mossad. They purport that while the Syrian president did destroy much of his chemical weapons stockpiles, he has hidden away about 10% of the chemical weapons and continues to use them. They allege that this secret stockpile constitutes a "doomsday" arsenal which includes chlorine gas, mustard gas, sarin gas and the deadly VX nerve gas.

Speaking of President Trump's watered-down military action, one Israeli diplomatic source criticized, "If you want to shoot—shoot, don't talk. In the American case, this is mostly talk. They themselves show actions they are not going to follow."

Sparking strong condemnations from both Syrian and Iranian officials, this week Israel admitted that it had, in fact, carried out an air strike against the Syrian T4 Air Base near Homs just days before the US-led assault. The attack killed at least 14 people, mostly Iranians. And since the US attacks, there has been at least one, possibly two, additional attacks by Israel. Last night, Syrian air defenses shot down 9 missiles that had been launched toward the T4 Air Base. Israel is suspected in the attack.

According to one of my well-placed sources who has informants within the Israeli Mossad, Israel intends to carry out strikes against up to 40 Syrian and Iranian targets in the country.


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