US launches attack on Syria in response to Assad's use of poison gas
NO DOUBT Donald Trump was keen to emphasise his decisiveness, in contrast with his predecessor’s dithering. There were hints earlier in the week that the president was thinking of doing something. After a nerve-gas attack by the Syrian air force killed more than 85 people in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4th, he said that Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, had crossed “many, many red lines”. In the early hours of April 7th, Mr Trump took action.They say the Obama administration staff will regret not taking similar action, but I doubt it. This was the same government that ran through a terrible deal with Iran's totalitarians, one more serious problem that has to be dealt with in the middle east itself. The Trump staff have done considerably better than the predecessors.
American ships fired 59 cruise missiles at the al-Shayrat airfield, from which planes carrying the chemical bombs are believed to have taken off. The strike was limited and targeted. Even so it debunked the idea that the use of any kind of force in response to the barbaric behaviour of the Assad regime was no longer possible because of fears that it would mean confrontation with his Russian ally, which has been operating in Syria since September 2015. The Russians were informed of the strike in advance, but they were not, apparently, consulted over it. It is not clear whether any Russians would have been at the base. But the warning, doubtless passed on to the Syrians, seems to have given the latter enough time to evacuate at least some of their planes. In military terms, therefore, the operation will make little difference to the Assad regime’s capabilities.
Mr Trump will rightly win praise for his willingness to make more than a hand-wringing statement about the Syrian regime’s flouting both of international norms and its own obligations since becoming a reluctant signatory in 2013 of the convention against the use of chemical weapons, following its last major outrage of this kind. In the past, Mr Trump has appeared indifferent to the idea of humanitarian intervention. But faced with such a vile and provocative act perpetrated on his watch, he asked his generals for an appropriate response, which they provided. The professional national-security team that he now has in place in the shape of his defence secretary, James Mattis, and his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, deserves credit for this, but the final decision was of course the president’s.
As noted, Iran's still going to have to be dealt with, as is any and every Islamofascist regime on the planet. In fact, even the totalitarians of Venezuela and Cuba will too.