President Trump reportedly hopes that cruise missile attack Syria and the 11-ton MOAB bomb dropped on Afghanistan will make American threats more credible when he deals with North Korea and other hostile countries.
But it is not enough for a leader of a great nation to be able to make credible threats. He also has to be able to make credible promises.
It is not enough for foreign heads of state to feel in danger if they oppose the United States. They have to be able to feel safe from U.S. wrath if they cooperate with the United States.
Otherwise the threats will make them redouble their efforts to be able to strike back.
Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi and Bashar al-Assad all found that appeasing the United States was more dangerous than defiance.
Unfortunately for President Trump, he—for reasons not of his own making—is in a situation in which neither his threats nor his promises are credible.