"The fact that Trump chose the least aggressive option available suggests that the principal audience for the strikes was not in Damascus or Moscow, but in the United States. In this reading, the missile strike was an ideal means for the commander in chief to avoid the opprobrium that his predecessor experienced for opting not to strike in 2013 after Assad’s first chemical weapons attack and instead work with Russia to remove Syrian chemical weapons stocks. Given Trump’s compulsive need for adulation and his desire to criticize former President Barack Obama and contrast himself with the 44th president, the strike may have been a foregone conclusion, whatever Trump had said earlier about staying out of Syria.
So was the strike political kabuki, nonproliferation norm enforcement on the cheap, both or something more? As the days passed, figuring out what the attack meant became more and more difficult as administration spokesmen put out confusing and often contradictory messages, sometimes even multiple times a day."