Syria and Assad Crimes Demand a Show of Force in the Middle East
The video was the stuff of nightmares. Dads cradling the dead bodies of their sons and daughters. Children writhing on the ground in pain. Others foaming at the mouth, the result of a deadly poison gas attack by the Syrians’ own government. When news reached the White House, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson knew exactly where to place blame. “There is no doubt in our minds that Syria and the regime under Bashar Assad were responsible for this attack,” he told reporters. “It’s a serious matter; it requires a serious response.”
And late last night, the new president gave it one — launching the first-ever direct strike on Syrian forces in the last six years. American forces blasted the airbase with 59 Tomahawk missiles to send the message that the U.S. will not tolerate aggressive violence against innocent men, women, and children. “I will tell you,” President Trump said to reporters in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday, “that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me — big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.”
Rallying other nations, he called on the world to help “end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.” The chemical attack on the innocent took the lives of more than 70 people — many women and children. “It was a slow and brutal death for so many,” President Trump said soberly. “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.” His swift response will certainly make other governments think twice. In an encouraging show of strength, the president’s team was decisive and in sync. What a difference from the previous administration, who would have almost certainly had a long and ponderous debate about what to do, if they did anything at all. While the world’s attention has been captured by this one military response, it has yet to be captured by ISIS’s genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in the region. We must continue to draw attention to this problem and other international religious freedom violations where they occur around the world.
As FRC’s Lt. General Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.) pointed out, this should debunk any rumors that President Trump’s national security team is in disarray. “They made a quick decision,” General Boykin said, “and they executed it. That’s not a sign of a disorganized team.” In many ways, he went on, the strike was more symbolic than destructive. Five dozen Tomahawks are devastating, but the U.S. response could have been much more extensive — marking several more targets, killing several more people. But it was meant to send a message — not only to Assad, but to the Russians. “President Trump is telling the Russians and Iranians that America isn’t messing around. It also sent a message to the Chinese, which set the stage for the president to be able to negotiate with China in regard to North Korea: either you handle it, or we will.”
In the aftermath of last night’s strike, though, the biggest question for the administration is whether they want a regime change or a behavioral change. “When the U.S. brought down Saddam Hussein, we got Iranian radicals in his place. When we took down Muammar Al Gaddafi, we got the Muslim Brotherhood,” General Boykin explained. “So while Assad is evil, what’s the alternative? Is it ISIS? Assad has never killed Christians and never attacked Israel. So as malicious and brutal as he may be, we need to ask this question.” Meanwhile, Americans can be grateful that we have a commander-in-chief who not only recognizes our nation’s responsibility to stand up for the vulnerable, but who will not hesitate to use the force necessary to hold the world’s powers accountable.
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