76 days

I was wondering how long it would take for Trump to start a war to prop up his approval ratings, and I may have just gotten my answer.

The operation, which the Trump administration authorized in retaliation for a chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week, dramatically expands U.S. military involvement in Syria and exposes the United States to heightened risk of direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, both backing Assad in his attempt to crush his opposition.

President Trump said the strike was in the “vital national security interest” of the United States and called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. And also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

“We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world,” he continued. “We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed and we hope that as long as America stands for justice then peace and harmony will in the end prevail.”

On the surface, that looks like it could trigger a war with Russia. But:

The Pentagon has confirmed it used a hotline for minimising the risk of aerial combat between US and Russian jets in eastern Syria to alert Russia of the strike against its Syrian client. The Russians are sure to have routed that warning to Assad, raising immediate questions about what the strike will have accomplished, and also signalling that the US does not seek escalation.

The sun is coming up on Russia, so we’ll quickly learn how accurate that is. Still, there’s good reason to think this won’t snowball into war, as well as good reason to think this is Trump shouting “WOLF!!” and pointing in the other direction.

Initial reports from Russia aren’t looking good.