Dang it.  I had this whole thing about Russia, and then I accidentally closed the damn tab.  I should put these in text files first.

Oh well.  The point was I am not in favor of messing with Russia right now.  Putin and Assad just about had the war wrapped up, and then somebody supposedly set off some chemical weapons, giving the U.S. an excuse to blow up some Syrian-owned Russian equipment.  I haven't really looked that hard into it, but I don't think it's just because President Trump needed a distraction from this Cohen raid business.  It's got way more to do with The International Game than with the one being played here at home.

It's late, though, and I'm tired.  I spent most of the day cleaning.  But I see now we did indeed fire some cruise missiles into some buildings.

Anyway another point I was making is this has nothing to do with chemical weapons or dead or dying Syrians or any of that mess.  Don't be fooled.  As sad as that may be (if even true), this is about sending Putin some kind of message.  Again, I don't think it's a cynical one to distract from something at home, I think it's seen as a fairly cost effective way to slow Russia's strategic advances in the region.

If you've ever played Chess, we're essentially trading pawns.  This is the kind of thing that happened all the time during the Cold War, though since the stakes were higher, the pawns tended to be actual people (read: spies) and not just military equipment.  My guess is the "chemical weapons storage" facilities are either Russian data centers or Iranian drone control facilities.  I mean, I guess they could be actual chemical weapons depots, but that whole story just smells to high heaven.  It's the flimsiest excuse to take out whatever the real targets are.  Putin will complain, but he won't show his hand because whatever is really there is not worth revealing to the world just to call our bluff on the chemical weapon attacks.

The other point I was making is if you ever want to really follow what Russia is doing in the Middle East and Europe, your starting point is to understand that Russia's strategy in those areas is driven by two overarching desires - warm water ports and buffer states against the Great European Powers (England, France, and Germany).  And then realize they not only lack buffer states at this time, but their old buffer states are all NATO members.  And also realize their grip on one of their warm water ports (the one in Syria) was in jeopardy when Assad started to lose his grip.

Honestly it really is that simple.  The other thing to remember is that, unlike America, Russia is led by a man who leads a group of men who all have a vision for what they want Russia to be, and they have both the will and the local political power to advance that vision - uninterrupted by party changes.  In America we keep changing gears every few years or so.  Makes it hard to go anywhere, but at the same time it means the people drive the culture forward, not some autocrat.

Well, unless the Deep State is real.  Then at that point the bureaucracy is driving and we're kind of in Big Trouble.