The latest cruise missile strike ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump on the weekend against Syrian targets was the third of its kind already - and stands in a long tradition of concerted missile strikes carried out by the U.S. military. This time around, the British and French armed forces fired some of their own missiles in support.
They were launched in retaliation of the Syrian regime allegedly using some form of chemical agent on April 7, intended to break the resistance of rebels holed up in Douma, a suburb of the capital Damascus. In the early hours of Saturday (local time), more than a hundred cruise missiles were fired from ships and aircraft against Syrian chemical weapons production facilities.
The below infographic shows, that cruise missiles have been employed by the United States military regularly, ever since their first deployment during the Gulf War of 1991. With some 210 missiles, Syria is closing in on the second most missile bombed territory, former Yugoslavia (220 strikes), but still lies way behind Iraq which has had to put up with at least 1,600 missiles in total.
In his 1997 thesis, Timothy Sparks calls these strikes a "means of delivering a military punch to achieve political gain
" and "an instrument in the execution of U.S. foreign policy". In this sense, the cruise missile has been said to have replaced the gunboat. Hence, the term "gunboat diplomacy" has been modified to read "cruise missile diplomacy".