After a week of tension the US missile strike on Syria finally came and went today.
Reports from Syria say that the operation is over, having lasted for around one hour.
Moreover this is consistent with what was said by Generals Mattis and Dunford during their Pentagon briefing.
The Pentagon briefing disclosed that “twice as many” cruise missiles were launched at Syria over the course of this strike than were launched against Al-Shayrat air base in April of last year.
That would put the number of cruise missiles launched during the operation today at perhaps 150 to 200. However unlike the Al-Shayrat strike last year, today’s strikes were launched against a multiplicity of targets, though most of these seem to have been concentrated in the Greater Damascus area.
An operation on this scale will be seen by many people in the West and around the world as something of an anti-climax after all the threatening war talk which has been pouring out of the Western media over the last week.
However the underlying calculus of the Syrian conflict has not changed.
The US military is simply not prepared to undertake an all-encompassing air offensive against Syria of the sort it previously undertook against Iraq in 1991, 1998 and 2003, against Yugoslavia in 1999, and against Libya in 2011, because of the risk that this might bring it into conflict with the Russians.
The result is that when ordered by the President to launch strikes, it does so on a minimal scale, which the battle-hardened Syrian government and military will see as no more than pinpricks.