Syria’s current government under Assad, with the help and protection of Putin’s Russia, has been eagerly using chemical weapons against rebel forces and, increasingly, civilians. It seems that Trump has finally noticed that fact.
Daniel Politi, writing in Slate, notes that the most recent Syrian atrocity was particularly horrific, “Doctors and rescue workers in Syria said at least 42 people were killed in an apparent chemical attack on a rebel-held town of Douma, in eastern Ghouta, located near the capital of Damascus. Rescue workers said they found families suffocated in their homes and shelters and videos spread online showing purported victims of the attack. ‘The attack was near bomb shelters and so it spread quickly in them,’ a paramedic who helped treat a group of victims said. ‘The gas was concentrated and in a place where people thought they were safe.’”
The incident was so awful that it seems to have even penetrated Trump’s consciousness, no mean feat. He’s responded to the incident with a flurry of anti-Assad and even anti-Russian tweets. Whether Assad or Putin care about Tweets is, of course, another matter, but it is still an interesting development. For the first time, Trump seems to be saying his pal Putie may not be such a nice chap.
But, as Politi notes, that’s going to make things difficult. He writes, “This latest reported attack comes at a complicated time for Trump, who had ordered a strike after a chemical attack last year but has said recently he wants the United States out of Syria. For now, the administration is keeping its options open. ‘I wouldn’t take anything off the table,” White House Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser Thomas Bossert said on ABC’s This Week.’”
As a result, at least some Washington analysts are saying that some sort of attack on Syrian facilities is almost certainly coming. (It may, in fact, have happened by the time you read this.) The question is, what will that mean for the United States?