Last night President Trump authorized the destruction of the air base from which the Syrian butcher Assad had launched insidious sarin gas attacks earlier this week. Our destruction of the air base was executed through the use of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. I strongly support President Trump’s authorization of the action. As the great William F. Buckley, Jr. used to say, herewith a few observations:
1. Asked about the gas attacks in a Rose Garden press conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Wednesday, President Trump had responded: “It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. Many, many lines.”
Trump’s language harked back to President Obama’s bloviation on Syria, but he wasn’t done. He went on specifically to cite Obama’s empty threat regarding Assad’s use of chemical weapons. “I think the Obama administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis a long time ago when he said the red line in the sand,” Trump said. “And when he didn’t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria, but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank threat. I think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country.”
I read President Trump’s statement as the predicate of some form of military reprisal by the United States against Assad. Thus it proved to be.
2. Like President Reagan when he fired the striking air traffic controllers in 1981, President Trump sent several messages with the action taken last night. Here are two of them. The Obama era in American foreign policy is over. Trump doesn’t issue empty threats.
3. President Obama sought to tie the United States down in the world like the Lilliputians did Gulliver. Among the instruments employed by Obama to restrain the United States was the United Nations. President Trump gave the United Nations the opportunity to weigh in yesterday. When it failed to act, Trump proceeded. Again, the Obama era in foreign policy is over.
4. Trump acted with decisive force to achieve a limited objective. He could have gone further to remove more of Assad’s assets. If the goal was limited to deter Assad from doing what he did again, however, I think it highly likely that the mission was accomplished.
5. President Trump also had an unstated messaged for Iran and North Korea. See note 1 above.
6. President Obama put us in bed with Putin and empowered Russia in Syria with the supposed object of removing Assad’s chemical weapons. The agreement entered into by Obama was a complete and utter fraud. One might think that we would revisit this chain of events and pronounce it a scandal and a disgrace. Apparently not.
7. One might think that the attack on Putin’s Syrian ally would put paid to the line of the Democrat/Media Axis that Trump is somehow Putin’s lapdog, but one might think wrong.
8. President Obama and Secretary Kerry entered into the agreement with Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons in September 2013, not even four years ago. Yet it has conveniently disappeared from our collective memory as completely as the Wilmot Proviso and the Bland-Allison Act.
9. President Trump had the lawful authority to do what he did yesterday without congressional approval. It was akin to President Reagan’s 1986 bombing of Libya. Obama’s war to remove Qaddafi in Libya — now that was a problem. Last night, however, Trump acted well within his authority.
10. The Trump crew made a mistake advertising their intent to indulge the continuation of the Assad regime’s before the chemical attacks. They may have contributed to Assad’s brazen crime. It should also be noted, however, that the timing coincided with the two-day summit in Brussels, Belgium where European Union leaders had assembled to discuss funding commitments to support war-torn Syria. One knowledgeable observer called the Assad’s chemical attacks “a direct insult” and warning from Assad: you will keep paying and I will keep killing.