Trump – Missiles – and Our Adversaries

Last week, President Trump announced that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria had deployed chemical weapons again. Visibly moved by the news, and in a reference to former President Obama’s red-line speech, Trump said that this attack crossed “many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines.”

The following day, he ordered a narrowly targeted strike on the Syrian air base from which the Syrians launched the attack. President Trump was right in ordering the strike.

There are some who want to go to war in Syria. President Trump responded but has not escalated. There is a difference.

We have US military personnel in Syria. Whether or not they should be there is a different debate. The fact is that they are there. There was a national interest for the United States to assure that the use of chemical weapons did not expand.

The use of chemical weapons is a reprehensible act that nations of the world deplored and outlawed nearly a century ago. Assad tested Trump as he did Obama. He learned that there is a radical difference between the two.

Obama declared but never acted on his empty threats. Trump made our position clear without making threats. Then he acted with a clarity that matched his public statements.

Since the attack, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, held a previously planned meeting with Russia. Contrary to some predictions, Russia did not cancel the meeting.

The meetings were candid and Tillerson made America’s position clear. He also sought to find ground where there could be cooperation with Russia.

It is noteworthy that the US Secretary of State met not only with his counterpart in Russia but also Vladimir Putin himself. It is also noteworthy that China has started to put pressure on North Korea about the nuclear build up in North Korea.

Our adversaries tested President Trump. They learned that the United States is no longer a push over. We will not just stand firm. We will push back when necessary. Our adversaries will enter that calculation into their future decisions and we will be safer as a result.

Signature-Donald E. Cole

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