It was clear from the first few minutes of War secretary Mattis's press conference last night that these strikes were going to be symbolic. They change nothing on the ground militarily. Russia's threat to respond worked - the US essentially backed down. Far more important is the damage Trump did to himself politically. One can only guess at the pressures brought to bear on him to take this suicidal (politically) act. I'm starting to think that this whole charade, starting with the Skripal poisoning a month ago, was an elaborate plot to mortally damage his presidency, not to achieve anything in Syria - well, if so, the plotters have succeeded.