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Attack on Syria

As you've likely already seen, the US tonight launched a significant aerial attack on targets in Syria. The AP reports that about 60 Tomahawk missiles fired from warships in the Mediterranean Sea struck a Syrian air force base.

A key question will be the fate of Russian military and/or civilian personnel in Syria, which have become closely integrated with Syrian regime military personnel in recent years. Obviously Russian lives are no more important than Syrian lives. But the geopolitical consequences of Russian casualties or fatalities could be severe.

Be Very Careful

Every 'chemical weapons are horrible, but ...' post is perilous and difficult to write. But there are some important points to be discussed here. President Trump has spent two years arguing that Syria is not our fight. We don't really care about human rights issues in Syria or who runs Syria. We care about ISIS. Days ago his Secretary of State said whether Bashar Assad stays in power isn't our concern. Now we're talking about military action and ousting him from power.

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You Weren't Paying Attention

Chemical weapons are horrible. Most ways that civilians die in war are horrible. Yet we have legitimate, important reasons for creating norms that prevent the use of certain classes of weapons. Chemical weapons are high on that list. But if the events of the last few days take you from "hands off, not our problem" to "Assad needs to go" it's hard to come to any other conclusion than that you simply weren't paying attention until now.

My Podcast: Episode 15 – Special Unmasking Edition!

Well, not just un-masking but that's part of the discussion. In Episode #15 of The Josh Marshall Show I talk to Brookings Institution Fellow Susan Hennessey. Susan is the Managing Editor of the must-read national security Lawfare blog as well as a former Intelligence Community lawyer who worked at the National Security Agency.

The Trump/Russia story has pushed to the center of the news a whole series of questions and practices about how intelligence collection works, what's legal, what's not and a lot more. These are technicalities that many of us just don't know that much about. But they've become increasingly important for understanding what the stories we're reading mean. That is why I was so excited to talk to Susan for Episode 15 of The Josh Marshall Show. Listen right here and let us know what you think.

It's Going Great

President Trump a few moments ago when asked about a potential staff shakeup: "I think we’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency."

Is Trump Moving to the Center? Some Very Faint Signs that he just might be

I want to continue the discussion that Josh began with his recent post on Trump’s demotion of Stephen Bannon from the “Principals Group.” The question to ask is whether after a month of unmitigated political disaster, Donald Trump has finally learned something. There are hints, but only bare hints, in this and other moves that he may have.

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BREAKING: Nunes Out from Russia Probe

Devin Nunes to "step away temporarily" from running House Russia probe.

They do not appear to be using the word "recuse", but that sounds like the gist of what we're hearing ... This appears to be driven by a new Ethics probe into Nunes action.

More after the jump ...

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More Moving Parts

Picking up on my argument from last night about how campaign era figures like Bannon, Flynn et al. (likely Russia scandal compromised figures, mind you) are being nudged to the side in favor of figures like McMaster, McGahn, Mattis, etc, (national security bureaucrats and party regulars) here's a related point.

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