Friday, April 7, 2017

What is Pres. Trump's Strategy on Syria?

The chemical weapon attack by the Syrian government targeted Syrians, not US interests. On the other hand, there is much to be said in favor of the idea that using WMDs should not be tolerated. Whatever position one might take, the more important issue is the overall strategy. Those against Pres. Trump's decision to strike Syria may have a consistent position based on a narrow definition of US interests. Those in favor must articulate what the endgame should be. Leaving the Assad regime in place creates the possibility that if he wins the civil war, he will remain a steadfast ally of Iran and Russia and a bitter foe to US interests in the region. On the other hand, even if regime change is on the table, the question remains: Who can replace Assad? If Pres. Trump has a comprehensive Syria strategy, it must be the best kept secret in the administration since no one knows about it, probably not even the president himself.

As the Syrian gas attack did not strike US targets nor is there any reason to believe that such an attack was imminent, Pres. Trump should have requested a Congressional authorization to use military force. The request alone could have been enough to deter Assad from any future chemical attacks. Obtaining such an authorization can be a perpetual deterrent and also open up more strategic options for the US.

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