President Donald J. Trump sent a clear message last night to Bashar al-Assad. Don′t use chemical weapons! Two US Navy destroyers, the USS Porter and USS Ross, launched a volley of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian airbase at al-Shayrat, destroying it. Intelligence services have determined that it was from there that the Syrian government launched an attack against civilians on Tuesday using Sarin gas, a nerve agent. Some 80 people were killed, including over two dozen children. Video and images of the victims enraged President Trump, who then ordered the Pentagon for options to respond. Last night′s attack is viewed as a ′measured response′. While Syria claims only six were killed and minor damage to its airbase, the quick, cruise missile attack signals that President Trump is prepared to take decisive action when necessary.
I may be reading too much into this, but I suspect that Syria used chemical weapons after being encouraged to do so by Russia. Probably one of their advising generals suggested the attack to teach the rebels a lesson. But, the real purpose was that Russia wanted to test President Trump and learn how he would react. If the goal was just to kill 80 civilians, Assad could have easily done so with conventional weapons and nobody would have said a peep. No, I think Vladimir Putin was pulling the strings here and was testing Donald Trump.
President Trump was at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida hosting a visit from China′s president, Xi Jinping when the missile attack took place. How is that for timing? Originally, the meeting was to be about US-China trade and other economic issues. However, recent provocative actions by North Korea, namely missile tests, changed the agenda. The Trump administration signaled earlier this week that it would not tolerate this behavior and would seek to convince China to reign in their neighbor.
So, the message is clear, not only to Bashar al-Assad, but also to North Korea, Iran, China and Russia. There is a new sheriff in town! President Donald J. Trump is not Barack Obama. No more hand-wringing for six months to make a decision. This is the difference between electing a successful businessman and a ′community organizer′. The Trump administration has more back-bone than eggheads. The initial reaction by our allies has been positive. As the US launches airstrikes on Syria, President Trump has also given the Pentagon a green light to eliminate ISIS, the Islamic State. About 1,000 US ground troops are in Syria assisting Kurdish and other rebel fighters as they prepare to assault the ISIS capital of Raqqa. Assad would be well advised to cool it for a while and consider this a mild spanking. Any retaliation will bring a powerful punch.
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