[guest post by Dana]
In spite of President Obama’s “amateurish improvisation” when he drew a red line of warning in the sand to Syria, and national security adviser Susan Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry crowing about Syria voluntarily giving up their last stockpile of chemical weapons, we learned this week about a horrific chemical attack in northern Syria. The attack claimed the lives of at least 70 people, including 20 children, and with at least another 100+ being treated at various hospitals. While the UK and the White House blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s bloodthirsty regime for the gruesome attack, the regime denies any involvement.
Today, Reuters declared the obvious:
President Trump responded to the attack: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: 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 that people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines beyond a red line – many, many lines.
Today, during a presser, he elaborated:
“I think what Assad did is terrible. I think what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes. It shouldn’t have happened. It shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. “I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. He’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.”
“With the acts that he has taken, it would seem that there would be no rule for him to govern the Syrian people,” Tillerson told reporters. “The process by which Assad would leave is something that I think requires and international community effort, both to first defeat ISIS within Syria, to stabilize the Syrian country to avoid further civil war, and then to work collectively with our partners around the world through a political process that would lead to Assad leaving.”
Tillerson added that “those steps are underway” already.
He also had this warning for Russia:
It is very important that the Russian government consider carefully their continued support for the Assad regime[.]
It is now being reported that the U.S. is considering military options in response:
President Trump is weighing options for a military strike in Syria, a possible prelude to a major expansion of American intervention that officials said Thursday could serve as a response to a devastating chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government.
As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis prepared to meet with Mr. Trump in Florida to discuss military options, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson promised a “serious response” from the United States to the use of chemical weapons on Tuesday by the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Tillerson made it clear that the Trump administration saw “no role” for Mr. Assad to continue governing Syria.
American officials said the options ranged from a limited cruise-missile strike to destroy a relatively isolated military installation to a multiday offensive that could involve the use of American warplanes against a range of targets, including Syria’s extensive air defenses. One other possibility, experts speculated, might be to strike the airfield that Syrian aircraft used to carry out the chemical attack on the rebel town of Khan Sheikhoun.
Condensing a complex issue, and despite The New York Times reporting that “…foreign policy analysts said Mr. Trump risked looking indecisive if he did not act after declaring Wednesday that Syria had “crossed a lot of lines for me” with the chemical attack on civilians,” and despite that it is gut-wrenching to see so many innocent and powerless people being treated with such unfathomable cruelty by a madman, is increasing U.S. involvement in Syria or even going to war any kind of solution?
President Trump ordered a cruise missile strike against Syria early Friday local time in retaliation for the chemical weapons attack that killed 86 people on Tuesday, according to the Pentagon.
The attack, the first conventional assault on another country ordered by Trump, comes a day after he declared that the chemical weapons assault had “crossed many, many lines,” including causing the deaths of 27 children.
The missiles, fired from a U.S. Navy vessel in the Mediterranean Sea, struck multiple sites, including the airfield where Syria based the warplanes used in the chemical attack, a Defense official said.
President Trump, opting to do what then President Obama wouldn’t:
The attack essentially follows the plan that the Pentagon had set in September 2013, according to a senior Defense official not authorized to speak publicly about the operation. That plan was devised after President Obama had set a “red line” on the use of chemical weapons. Syrian President Bashar Assad had used the weapons that killed 1,400 civilians, but Obama did not order an attack. Instead, Assad agreed to turnover his stockpiles of chemical weapons, a pledge he obviously reneged on in light of Tuesday’s use of what experts believe was sarin gas on civilians.
Thanks to kishnevi for pointing this out.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Unconstitutional and stupid. I would have expected nothing less. Back to my hiatus. See you around April 10.