Red Lines (Again) and Beyond

US President Donald Trump has promised to respond to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons on the town of Douma. His immediate challenge is to do so in a way that demonstrates US resolve to, well, respond, but which doesn’t risk opening up a more direct conflict with Russia or Iran, both of which now have troops and advisers embedded throughout the country.


But beyond the narrow question of if and how to respond to the chemical attack hangs the broader question of whether the US intends to stay in Syria and if so, under what pretext. Trump has signaled he wants out, though the Pentagon has evidently persuaded him to stay a while longer. Broadly speaking there are three possible objectives for staying:

To fight ISIS, in eastern Syria, where American forces have worked with Kurdish and Arab militias to all but eliminate the self-styled caliphate’s territorial reach. Leaving could allow ISIS to regroup, but as my pal Willis notes, what’s the harm in letting Iran and Russia deal with that problem if they want ownership over the postwar outcome?

To stop Russia and Iran from establishing Syria as a postwar client state. This is not a feasible objective given the relatively limited US presence. Russia, Iran, and Turkey — which are more involved — are already leading their own peace process without the US. Absent a significant increase in US troops, which the American public — including but not limited to Trump’s base — would never support, this isn’t a realistic goal.

To prevent humanitarian catastrophe and war crimes. Trump’s retaliation against Syria for chemical attacks certainly imposes some limited costs on the Assad regime, but are they enough to deter their future use? It was (exactly) a year ago that Trump hit Syria with 59 cruise missiles in response to a chemical attack. And yet the use of chemical weapons has continued, right through the Douma attack.

How much material do we use to send a package? Too much. Does recycling help? Yes – but not really. Packaging material often accumulates as waste, contributing to its own "polluting weight." To solve our packaging dilemma, Finland came up with RePack: a "circular" solution for the reuse of material.

Learn more about RePack in Eni's new Energy Superfacts series.

A steady increase of violence in the Sahel region of Africa over the past eight years has imposed fear and hardship on millions of the people who live there. It has also pushed the governments of Sahel countries to work together to fight terrorists.

The region's troubles have also captured the attention of European leaders, who worry that if instability there continues, it could generate a movement of migrants that might well dwarf the EU refugee crisis of 2015-2016.

But is Europe helping to make things better?

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In a new interview with Ian Bremmer for GZERO World, former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says that the single most important step to reopening schools in the fall is to control infection in the community. But as of now, too many communities across the United States have lost control of the Covid-19 virus. Opening schools will only become a possibility once a majority of people start practicing the "Three 'W's" ("Wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance") and local and federal governments enforce stricter protective policies. The full episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television on Friday, August 7, 2020. Check local listings.

2,500: Google has deleted around 2,500 YouTube accounts linked to a coordinated misinformation campaign about Hong Kong, Chinese regime critics and China's coronavirus response. It's been a busy week for social media platforms cracking down on fake news, after Facebook and Twitter censored a post from US President Donald Trump for containing misinformation about COVID-19, and Brazil's Supreme Court ordered Facebook to block accounts tied to allies of President Jair Bolsonaro for spreading lies about judges.

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Jim Geraghty argues in a National Review op-ed that we shouldn't blame Trump for the fact that the US has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world. But though he's right that not everything is Trump's fault, Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Scott Rosenstein take out The Red Pen to show that the evidence he cites to let Trump off the hook doesn't hold water.

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