Standing in the Rose Garden yesterday before members of the press, President Donald Trump denounced the murder of innocents in Syria and said there would be consequences. Last evening, he made good on that threat, launching 59 cruise missiles at an air base in Syria from which the chemical attacks on civilians had been launched, effectively putting the facility out of operation.
This morning, the response to the strike are predictably mixed. I use the qualifier predictably not only because acts of military aggression in the Middle East have begun to tax the collective conscience of the American people but because of the Left’s unconcealed contempt for the president who gave the order.
Retired colonel and Fox News Channel contributor Ralph Peters drew the inevitable comparisons between Trump and his predecessor, writing in the New York Post:
Leadership. That’s what we lacked for eight years. In the early hours of Friday morning in Syria — late Thursday evening here — our military, acting on the order of our commander-in-chief, avenged the slaughtered innocents in Syria and sent a clear message that we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. Well done!
The Washington Post’s David Ignatius was protective of the previous administration and circumspect with respect to the current one. In an article glibly titled “Trump Enforces the ‘Red Line’ on Chemical Weapons,” he wrote:
American interventionism is our best and worst national trait….
Given that Trump’s view of Syria was so similar to Obama’s, his attempt to blame the latest chemical attack there on his predecessor’s alleged weakness was especially dubious. It displayed his embattled, defensive self-image: He is a victim of someone else’s bad decisions.
David Sanger’s take in The New York Times was slightly more analytical, noting both the opportunities and risks of the attack, but also strayed into more partisan areas:
The attack will also shape the meeting next week between Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia…
Before the strike on a Syrian air base on Thursday night, the meeting had been expected to be dominated by the investigation into Russia’s cyberattacks and the interference in the presidential election on Mr. Trump’s behalf. [Emphasis added]
CBS News provided a cross-section of reactions by members of Congress. A common theme among these that crossed party lines was Trump’s failure to seek congressional approval before launching the attacks. Beyond that, there seemed to be some consensus among Democratic leadership that the strike was justified. Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement, “Making sure [Syrian President Bashar al] Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do.”
Naysayers included Rep. Tulsi Gabbard , D-Hawaii, who condemned the airstrikes as “reckless and short-sighted.”