The United States struck the Shyrat Air Base in Syria with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles following the Assad regime’s barbaric gassing of civilians, including children. The move was a long-overdue response to the repeated atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime and should be received as a welcomed attempt to maintain the international norm against chemical weapons
While the Trump administration’s lack of an overarching foreign policy doctrine is both headache-inducing and dangerous, it does not automatically render each decision made by the president foolish. The Assad regime has weathered countless condemnations by international watchdogs and the United Nations, demonstrating time and time again that the only thing it understands is the force of arms.
While it is unfortunate that the situation in Syria has deteriorated to the point where messages must be sent via missile rather than emissary, there are vital standards that must be upheld for the sake of the international community.
First and foremost, the use of chemical weapons in warfare — particularly their use against innocent civilians and children barely old enough to walk — is not only abhorrent but also demands a swift and competent response.
Following President Obama’s disastrous “red line” fiasco in Syria, the consequences of which are still being felt today, the United States needed to issue a potent statement to remind the world at large that violating international laws and human rights will be punished. The Trump administration must now be held accountable to finish what it started and deliver a practical solution to defeat the Islamic State and restore order to the region. With that, the mission still has a long way to go.
It would be preferable, for instance, if the commander-in-chief of the world’s greatest military force didn’t have to take to Twitter to defend his tactical decision making. Nonetheless, President Trump’s executive decision to strike Shyrat Air Base was a measured and timely response.
While it is often said the United States cannot afford to be the world’s policeman, it must also be said we cannot afford to not be the world’s leader. In times of crisis, be they natural disasters or man-made calamity, the United States is needed to unite the international community and offer a democratic, level-headed response.
Love him or hate him, Trump did just that with his decision to launch those missiles. While this instance highlights more than any other the desperate need for a consistent and well thought out foreign policy on behalf of the Trump administration, it also demonstrates that capable men such as General Mattis retain both the president’s ear and the ability to influence his decision making.
It also displays a universal truth that for many years has been missing on the international stage: the United States military is a global force for good, and one that’s here to stay.