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Donald Trump defends effectiveness of Syria airstrike as questions over strategy arise

Donald Trump's shock entry into Syria's civil war wrong-footed his critics. Credit: AP

The President has taken to Twitter to defend the effectiveness of the Syrian strike that he ordered on Thursday night.

Critics of the military intervention have pointed out that the airbase hit by the 59 Tomahawk Cruise missiles was quickly operational again.

Local observers say that government aircraft have been seen taking off for bombing raids from the main runway at the Shayrat airbase.

Trump claims that it wasn't worth the expense of cratering the runway to make it non-operational.

Still, it raises the troubling question of what the point of the strike was and whether it will really have any deterrent effect.

Meanwhile President Trump remains at his Florida golf estate this weekend to ponder the aftermath of his dramatic intervention.

Palm Beach - an island of extraordinary wealth and privilege - could not be further removed from the horrors of the Syrian battlefield.

The initial reviews of the missile strike on the Syrian government airbase are overwhelmingly positive.

In fact, many of Obama's top advisers - those who are normally bitterly critical of Trump's character and temperament - are praising the new commander-in-chief.

Former US secretary of state John Kerry is believed to have backed the intervention that Barack Obama had avoided. Credit: PA

John Kerry, the former secretary of state, is said to be supportive of the strikes and relieved that the Syrian dictator has finally paid a price.

So are many Democrats and Republicans in Congress, as well as liberal media commentators.

But a few other Obama-era national security advisers are this morning withering about the effectiveness of attacking an airbase that was quickly back in action, a facility once more being used as a launchpad for regime bombing raids.

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So, politically, Trump has wrong-footed his critics once more. But - as many military analysts are pointing out - a strike is not a strategy.

What happens if Assad uses chemical weapons again? Does Trump launch more missiles or does he avoid an escalation? What makes chemical weapons worse than barrel bombs?

Syrian President Bashar Assad's office condemned the US airstrikes as 'reckless' and 'irresponsible'. Credit: AP

The early relief that the ship-launched missiles hit their target and that the Russian and Syrian reaction was somewhat contained may be premature.

We still can't know how the US intervention changes the dynamics on the complex battlefield.

Protesters held a rally in New York to demonstrate against the US missile strikes. Credit: AP

Trump allies say this was the shot heard around the world; that US allies and adversaries now know that there is a new sheriff in town who means business and can be decisive.

Those supporters say it will help future US diplomacy in North Korea, the South China Sea, and with the Russians.

But there is also a significant danger that Trump's reaction sends out a different signal: That the US president responds to visual images without a strategy. That he is quick to fire missiles but slow to learn the complexity of a conflict.

Trump has also alarmed some of his core voters.

They thought that this was an 'America First' commander-in-chief who is by instinct an isolationist.

Now they have a president who has intervened in a war within his first 100 days in office, a decision his anguished predecessor avoided for six long years.

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