WASHINGTON, April 6, 2017 — The United States has taken a stand for our moral values, sending a loud message to China, North Korea and Russia that President Trump is not President Obama and that the U.S. will not stand by as children and civilians are murdered by their own government.
News feeds of the chemical attacks against the Syrian people showed people dying in the streets and bodies of children stacked in piles. They drew an emotional response from Trump, who said, “I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity.” He seemed to adjust his feelings about Assad: “He’s there and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.”
Earlier today, while traveling to Florida, the president told the press corps traveling with him, “I think what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes and shouldn’t have happened and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”
Trump ordered a limited air strike of 50 cruise missiles against the Shayrat Air Base near Homs. He said that he was responding to what his administration viewed as a vital national security issue for the U.S.
From Mar-A-Lago, Trump said that the chemical attack “choked out the lives of countless men, woman, and children … No child of God should ever suffer such horror. Tonight I ordered a limited military attack on the airbase from where the chemical attack was launched.”
The president was obviously moved by the photos of children killed in the chemical attack, referring to the dead babies in diapers, calling it a “disgrace to humanity” that crossed “a lot of lines.”
The slaughter of Syrians has been going on for seven long years and the U.S. foreign policy has changed with the attack on the Syrian airbase.
The strikes, launched from the USS Ross and USS Porter, began to hit the airbase at at 8:45 p.m. in Washington, early morning Friday in Syria. At the time of the first strikes, President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were finishing up their final dinner at Mar-A-Lago.
The assault is a reversal for Trump, who said while a candidate that he was against the U.S. getting pulled into the seven-year long Syrian civil war.
The approximately 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles were fired from U.S. warships located in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack was in direct retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that American officials believe Syrian government aircraft launched using a nerve agent, possibly sarin.
The president did not inform Russia prior to the attacks, though he and other national security officials were clear to the Syrian government throughout the day Thursday that their use of the nerve agent, sarin gas, would not be accepted by the United States.
Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain have both offered messages of support for President Trump’s attack.
Under the Obama administration, Assad was to have removed all chemical weapons from Syria, but it is clear that those gas agents were not destroyed, but used against the people of Syria. Trump’s actions today are about three-and-a-half years after President Barack Obama threatened Assad with military action after an earlier chemical weapons attack killed hundreds outside of Damascus.
At that time, Obama famously said that the use of such weapons was a “red line” not to be crossed. But despite American ships at the ready to respond to that attack, Obama never responded with force. At the time, U.S. ally Great Britain and the U.S. Congress balked at his plan. Instead, Obama agreed to a Russian plan to remove and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.
There were numerous indications that the U.S. would respond to the latest attack against the Syrian people. Yesterday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley suggested that the U.S. was open to using military action in Syria as she strongly condemned Russia and the Syrian government over the chemical weapons attack on civilians.