Trump Strikes Syrian Airbase
In response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his people, President Donald Trump launched fifty-nine missiles at a Syrian government airbase earlier this month. The decision was made without first contacting Congress, a move made legal by the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine instated by the UN after failure to aid Rwanda and Bosnia led to genocides in 1994 and 1995 respectively.
The Responsibility to Protect Doctrine, which has been around since the early 2000s but has never been used by a U.S. President, allows international communities to intervene in a country where they believe there is potential for genocide or war crimes. According to the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, R2P states that “every state has the Responsibility to Protect its populations from four mass atrocity crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing” and “if a state is manifestly failing to protect its populations, the international community must be prepared to take appropriate collective action, in a timely and decisive manner and in accordance with the UN Charter.”
This air strike is the United States’ first direct military action against the Syrian regime throughout Syria’s six-year civil war. While former-president Obama had been a proponent of military action back in 2013, he was advised by the Senate to not take action. However, President Trump did not seek Senate approval before sending out military strikes against the airbase that deployed chemical weapons at the people of Syria.
According to the New York Times, Trump said that “Putin was partly to blame for the conflict in Syria,” and criticized the Russian leader for supporting President Bashar al-Assad, who Trump called an “animal.” As of early April, Russia has ceased sharing its Syrian air operations communication channel with the United States. This channel was put into place in 2015 to aid against air conflicts.
While speaking to reporters at Mar-a-Lago hours after ordering the attack, Trump said, “There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council. Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically.”
According to CNN, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson assured reporters during a briefing that the air strike did not represent a “change in our policy or our posture in Syria.” He then went on to say that “President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line…and cross the line in the most heinous of ways.”
According to a Kremlin statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the airstrike has “dealt a serious blow to Russia-US relations,” as he did not believe that Syria was still in possession of chemical weapons.
We wait further for Syrian President Assad’s reaction and for further updates from around the globe.