Say what? No “red line in the sand” first? You mean the red line is being drawn after the action? Is this the beginning of the end of ex-President Obama’s policy of “leading from behind”?
The old “vital national security interest” being thrown into the ring over the use of chemical weapons was probably the only way The Don could have justified this. It will be interesting now to see where the other members of NATO stand on it…support or non-support.
I only hope that Senator John McCain and his lackey Senator Lindsey Graham are not emboldened by the strike, feeling that The Don took their advice and that he will continue to take their advice in the future. Things will surely heat up soon and we don’t need their “two cents” screwing things up!
President Trump ordered the first major military action of his young presidency Thursday evening, authorizing the bombing of a Syria airfield where the government of President Bashar Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians this week.
“It is in this vital national security interest of the U.S. to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump said. “There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons violated its obligation under the chemical weapons convention and ignored the urging of the United Nations Security Council.”
“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically,” Trump said. “As a result the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize.”
Trump urged other countries to join the U.S. in stopping Assad’s aggression in the Syrian civil conflict.
“Tonight, I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types,” he said.
The Pentagon said 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from the destroyers USS Ross and USS Porter in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea around 8:40 p.m. Washington time (3:40 a.m. in Syria) and targeted the Shayrat air base in Homs province. The Pentagon said Russian forces were notified before the strike.
The Tomahawks were specifically programmed to hit runways, aircraft and fuel points at the airfield, Pentagon officials told reporters.
“We are assessing the results of the strike. Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said. “The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated.”
Both ships are Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, capable of firing dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles each.
Syrian state television has since reported on the attacks and called it an “aggression,” the Associated Press reported.
The strike came after Trump said Wednesday that the chemical attack was unacceptable, adding that it had changed his opinion of the Assad regime, which his administration had earlier appeared to accept would remain in power.
“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies with a chemical gas that was so lethal – that crossed many, many lines beyond the red line,” Trump said.
Trump was referring to the earlier red line drawn by the Obama administration five years ago, in which Obama threatened to attack, but later backed down after the regime promised to hand over chemical weapons.
While Trump had struck a non-interventionist tone during the campaign, chastising members of his own party for supporting past involvement in protracted conflicts, he vowed this week that the Assad regime would be punished for its aggression against civilians.
Trump spoke about his decision to strike the Syrian airfield Thursday from Mar-a-Lago, where he had traveled earlier in the day to host a series of bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
There, the president used strong language to slam the sarin gas attack on Syrian civilian that claimed dozens of lives and left more than 100 others injured this week.
“Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” Trump said. “It was a slow and brutal death for so many, even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”
The Pentagon had acknowledged earlier on Thursday it was drafting options for a military strike. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both Republicans, had called for a U.S.-led coalition to strike airfields and ground the Syrian air force.
One issue Washington must still deal with is Russia, which has propped up Assad’s regime while pledging to work with Washington to defeat the Islamic State. When asked how Russian might react to a strike against Assad from the U.S., McCain said “I don’t give a damn.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said late Thursday that Russia “failed in its responsibility” to locate and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, hours after Trump authorized the strikes.
“Clearly Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on that commitment from 2013,” Tillerson told reporters at Mar-a-Lago. “Either Russia has been complicit or Russia has been simply incompetent in its ability to deliver on its end of that agreement.”
Early reaction from Capitol Hill was mostly positive Thursday night after the strikes were announced.
“Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “I salute the professionalism and skill of our Armed Forces who took action today.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan called the strikes “appropriate and just.”
“These tactical strikes make clear that the Assad regime can no longer count on American inaction as it carries out atrocities against the Syrian people,” Ryan said. “Resolving the years-long crisis in Syria is a complex task, but Bashar al-Assad must be held accountable and his enablers must be persuaded to change course. I look forward to the administration further engaging Congress in this effort.”
But not all the reviews were positive. “While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said. “The president needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate.
“Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different,” Paul said.
Congressional Democrats sounded a similar tone.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said the attack was an “act of war” that needs congressional approval.
“Congress needs to come back into session & hold a debate,” she tweeted. “Anything less is an abdication of our responsibility.”