Trump's missile strikes will not halt Assad's other atrocities

During the meeting Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, characterized the missile attacks a "very measured step", but warned that the USA could take more military action. Still, 39 percent is a sizable minority of the time.

The missile strike in Syria has revealed that the current USA administration lacks independence and hangs on the Washington establishment that Donald Trump used to strongly criticize during the presidential race and his inauguration speech, Medvedev added. Many Americans will continue to distrust the president. That will take time.

Trump's actions have broad support in Congress, including from Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and stronger approval from Republicans like John McCain and Mitch McConnell. When Congress voted on arming the Syrian rebels in 2014, party affiliation was not a great predictor of support. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a leader of the party's non-interventionist wing who challenged Trump for the GOP nomination.

"This man who is now in office in America claimed that he wanted to fight terrorism but today all terrorists in Syria are celebrating the USA attack", he said.

But he was just a regular American then, with an opinion that no one cared about. Polls may end up showing that the public - Democrats and Republicans - backs the limited actions Trump has taken so far, but if the USA role expands, that's less likely to be true.

Which has raised a simple-yet-crucial question: was Trump's Syria strike illegal? Washington says Syrian government forces carried out a poison gas attack in northern Syria this week that killed at least 70 people.

Are we now to be drawn into yet another war in the Middle East which that will live to regret? Yet, Syria is also a proxy for other, more powerful countries. Perhaps even more importantly, Russian Federation is also deeply involved in the conflict and allied with Bashar Assad.

On Friday, senior US military officials were looking more closely at possible Russian involvement in the poison attack.

Iran and Russian Federation are Assad's closest allies and label all opponents of his regime as "terrorists".

Thursday night's strike sent a clear message that Trump was willing to act beyond those counterterrorism priorities, but U.S. officials made clear that the strike was meant to send a message - not fundamentally alter United States policy in the region.

Obama had threatened Assad with military action after an earlier chemical weapons attack killed hundreds outside Damascus. That said, most other nations on the Security Council deplored the chemical attack.

Trump laid part of the blame for the chemical attack on Obama, saying the deaths were a 'consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution'.

US officials blame Moscow for propping up Assad.

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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 U.S. troops are on the ground assisting anti-Islamic State militias. The U.S. isn't trying to claim territory in the Syrian conflict, as it did during wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But military officials, meanwhile, told FP this does not appear to be the start of a longer military campaign to drive Assad from power, and instead was a specific reaction to the chemical attack. The U.S.is, however, trying to change Assad's policy on chemical weapons. The state of the Syrian civil war is far different - in 2013, the war was still new and uncertain; today it is recognized as the world's most devastating conflict. The missiles struck a Syrian military airfield.

  • Carolyn Briggs