Apr 09 2017 by Desiree Burns
When Democrats fought against a Trump presidency, this is the exact worst-case scenario they had in mind; they couldn't imagine handing America's military might to a mercurial, undisciplined television star with little knowledge of the dangers lurking in the tumultuous Middle East.
"President Bashar al-Assad's horrific use of chemical weapons on his own people is a grave violation of worldwide norms, and I believe the administration's strike on a Syrian military installation was an appropriate response". But even some of Trump's most fiery critics offered measured praise.
The whole world rightly condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but the U.S. attack on the Assad regime does nothing to lower tensions, nor will it hasten peace in that country.
U.S. officials said they had taken pains to ensure Russian troops were not killed, warning Russian forces in advance and avoiding striking parts of the base where Russians were present. "The Syrian regime must be held accountable for this horrific act". But opposition figures said an isolated assault on a single target was still far from the decisive intervention they have sought for many years. ("On Syria Attack, Trump's Heart Came First", the Times tweeted.) Not only does coverage like this badly distort an important issue like Syria, but it serves as a reminder (as if one were needed) of exactly the boost-not to mention the political capital-Trump would gain in the case of a national emergency or terrorist attack. In one of the strongest signs of the legislative meltdown, Senate Republicans on Thursday moved to get rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court justices, after Democrats attempted-for the first time in almost 50 years-to filibuster a justice's confirmation.
Capitol Hill's collective reaction to the Syria situation was quite a different story. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a leader of the party's non-interventionist wing who challenged Trump for the GOP nomination.
"The Russian side is halting the effect of the memorandum for prevention of incidents and ensuring safety of air flights during operations in Syria which was agreed with the USA", said a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday.
In contrast, internationalists like senators John McCain and Marco Rubio, Republicans who have actively criticized Trump for retreating from the world stage, were jubilant.
The United States has been conducting air strikes against Islamic State militants who control territory in eastern and northern Syria, and a small number of USA troops are on the ground assisting anti-Islamic State militias. Doctors at a hospital supported by the International Rescue Committee in the city of Idlib were able to save the lives of 10 people caught in the attack. On America's left, some pointed to the contrast between Mr Trump's concern for the "beautiful babies" being bombed by Mr Assad and his attempted ban on Syrian refugees. I condemn Assad's use of chemical weapons in the strongest possible terms.
"We have a very high level of confidence that the attacks were carried out under aircraft under the direction of Bashar al-Assad's regime".
But in a 48-hour period, the administration appears to have undergone a dramatic shift in thinking. With the worldwide community unwilling to take the necessary steps to bring an end to the carnage, the USA took action.
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Striking Assad could put the United States on a collision course with Russian Federation, which intervened on the Syrian president's side in 2015, turning the tide of the conflict against mostly Sunni Muslim rebel groups in his favor.
He opted instead for the Russian-backed plan that was supposed to remove and eliminate Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. A deadly chemical attack in northwestern Syria earlier this week prompted the decision. After all, Obama laid down a red line against such violations and Trump seems intent on enforcing it.
But one administration success, she noted, was that "we were able to find a solution that didn't necessitate the use of force that actually removed the chemical weapons that were known from Syria, in a way that the use of force would never have accomplished".
U.S. President Donald Trump addressed the Nation Thursday night. While applauding the professionalism of the strikes, members of Congress expressed wildly divergent positions on the way forward in Syria.
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Iran also "strongly condemned" the military strike.
The attack is said to have killed and injured hundreds of innocent Syrians, including women and children.
White House officials caution that Trump is not preparing to plunge the US deeper into Syria.
Administration officials are headed to Capitol Hill Friday to brief lawmakers on their actions in Syria.
Trump promised a radical departure from traditional foreign policy.
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