Over the course of the first few months of Trump’s presidency, there have been many defining moments of the type of leader he will be over the next four years.
From the attempted face lift of Obamacare to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, and, now, Trump will be tested on the strength of his foreign policy.
In 2013, President Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line,” which would prompt outside intervention. However, Syria crossed the red line and Obama turned a blind eye. Earlier this week, the world was reminded of the abandoned red line and the nefarious nature of President Bashir al-Assad when Syrians succumbed to one of the deadliest chemical-weapons attack in years. More than 70 people, including women, children, and babies, were killed in northern Syria.
The Syrian attacks mark the first foreign policy test for Trump and, it’s safe to say he passed with flying colors. For the past seven years, Syria has been embroiled in a brutal civil war between President Assad and rebel groups that want him gone and, while the international community agrees that Assad needs to step down in order to achieve peace in Syria, the reality of Assad going willingly has yet to materialize.
The attacks in Syria came a week after both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley admitted that removing Assad from power was no longer a goal of United States foreign policy.
With all eyes on the Rose Garden, Trump had the chance to take action and flexed his foreign policy muscle more so than his predecessor. The air strikes taken by the Trump administration against Assad doubt served as a forecast into the type of foreign policy the administration wants to conduct going forward. By Trump opting for air strikes in Syria,marks a substantial shift in American foreign policy.
At the same time, the chemical attack on Syria is serving as deja vú as the Trump administration is finding itself confronted with the same dilemma faced by Obama. For some, the obvious answer to the Syrian problem would be to remove Assad from power. For others, the fear of a regime change conjures images of Iraq when the United States toppled Saddam Hussein. Currently, it has not been made clear the route Trump will take to tackle this foreign crisis, but he is showing a more hawkish side in light of these recent events.
Across the globe, Assad was doubling down and preparing to call Trump’s bluff on the use of military intervention or any backlash for his use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians. However, it’s safe to say that Assad’s crystal ball must be broken, because Trump went all in on Wednesday night making an example of Assad and his chemical weapons attack.
President Trump’s decision to launch air strikes on Wednesday night showed the world he is ready to lead and these types of war crimes will not be tolerated. While the Trump administration’s bold course of action is only the beginning of a long road ahead to restore peace to Syria, it has no doubt set the tone for Trump’s foreign policy over the next four years.