The White House released a statement last night threatening to attack Syrian forces if they proceed with plans to launch another chemical weapon attack, but the Pentagon apparently has no idea what they're talking about.
Defense officials who spoke to NBC News say they don't know what plans the White House statement referred to.
It gave no details of the purported preparations or of how they had been detected, saying only that "the activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017, chemical weapons attack." [...]
Five U.S. defense, military and intelligence officials told NBC News they were caught off guard by the White House statement and could not even guess what a possible target would be.
"I don't know what the [White House] statement is,” one responded.
So, what's going on here?
Issuing vague threats with little or no pretense is one of Trump's favorite ways to kill time, but Trump regime officials who spoke to The Daily Beast say Trump had nothing to do with this.
They say Trump is too busy rage-tweeting and screaming at his television.
All this occurred this week as President Donald Trump displayed what two White House officials characterized as relative indifference and passivity towards the subject, instead opting to focus his public and private energies towards fuming at his domestic enemies in the Democratic Party and the “fake news.”
“The president cares more about CNN and the Russia story than [Syria] at the moment,” one official observed.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly delivered the warning to Syrian and Russian officials. Does this mean he was freelancing? Did the State Department issue a warning and threat without consulting the White House or the Pentagon?
Syria and Russian officials have denied that Syrian forces are preparing to use chemical weapons again, just as you would expect them to deny it (even if it were true), but in this case I honestly don't know who's telling the truth. It's possible none of them are.
The last time Trump ordered the military to attack a Syrian airfield that was used to launch a chemical weapons attack, both Syrian and Russian forces were given advanced warning and the airfield itself was left intact. Threats issued by the Trump regime may be seen as impotent, especially when it comes from an ineffectual secretary of state who has just recently demonstrated that he has no say or influence over American foreign policy. Tillerson can't even stop Trump from threatening a country that hosts over 10,000 American soldiers.
This is kind of hip-firing, flying by the seat of our pants foreign policy increases the risk of accidental escalation.