On Friday, the United States led an air assault against the Syrian government for allegedly using chemical weapons against their own people.
President Trump previously promised a withdrawal from Syria – no more troops on the ground and no more airstrikes. Friday’s assault seems like a step back from the conservatism the president previously championed. Time will tell whether or not the attack was a move to commit the United States military to further engagement and escalate involvement, or if Trump will pull out of the region.
The red line was drawn, the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad crossed it, and the Trump administration responded.
But, many conservatives in Trump’s support base are expressing they thought the attack was too much, pushing us back into an expensive, international conflict and will put the lives of more American military service members at risk.
Those conservatives who did not support the attack may have a long road ahead because United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council that the U.S. was “locked and loaded” to respond again. That is, the air assault might be the first of other attacks.
Per Fox News:
Haley made the remarks at a fiery meeting of the U.N. Security Council, in which Russia and the U.S. traded barbs over the decision of the U.S., France and the United Kingdom to launch strikes in Syria on Friday in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons last week in Douma.
While the Trump administration has said the strikes are now over, with Trump declaring: “Mission Accomplished!” on Saturday morning, Haley warned that should the Assad regime use such weapons again, strikes could resume.
“I spoke to President Trump this morning and he said if the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded,” she said.
Reuters has more on Trump’s broader plan:
Commentators questioned the message behind the latest strike – which signaled that Western allies would not let a chemical weapons attack go without punishment – but demurred about deeper involvement when barrel bombs by the Assad government kill far greater numbers of Syrians.
Trump has made clear he wants to withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria involved in the anti-Islamic State campaign, and his administration has suspended support for Syrian rebels, evidence of his desire to disengage from Syria.
But he appeared to conflict that message when he said on Saturday that Western allies were prepared to “sustain this response” if Assad does not stop using prohibited chemical weapons.
A U.S. official said that while top aides such as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had persuaded Trump to avoid the tougher action the president initially wanted, arguing that that would have risked escalation with Assad ally Russia, the administration is no closer to crafting a comprehensive strategy on the war in Syria.
Trump’s approach, he said, “is not about the balance of power in Syria. It is about ISIS and deterring Assad’s use of chemical weapons.
“The strikes may convince (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to stop further use (of chemical weapons) by Assad as it remains clear we are pulling out of Syria. The strikes don’t alter that reality,” Ross said.
Russia has declared victory three times in Syria and thwarted international efforts for a political transition and Assad’s eventual departure, said Maksad.
“Putin has the political will and the endurance to stay the course in Syria and he has demonstrated that for almost three years,” Maksad said.