Trump is not Obama: Laying down international law to Assad panned by some supporters but praised by others as “decisive”

President Donald J. Trump ordered his first major military action late Thursday evening, authorizing the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a Syrian government-held airbase U.S. intelligence says was the launch point for last week’s horrific sarin gas attack against civilians and children.

And while some of his staunchest supporters – including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.,– are criticizing the attack, the president is winning high praise for decisiveness and leadership in many quarters, domestically and around the world, including several #NeverTrump detractors who, until now, did not think much of Trump’s abilities.

First the negatives. Paul, in a tweeted statement, reminded Trump that the U.S. is not at war with Syria, a sovereign state, and that any war-making authority has to come from Congress. (RELATED: After Losing Ground In Syria And Iraq, CIA Chief Says ISIS Planning More Guerrilla Attacks In West)

“While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked,” he tweeted. “The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate,” Paul said. “Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer, and Syria will be no different.”

Conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter, who wrote the bestseller, “In Trump We Trust,” tweeted her dismay as well:

“Trump campaigned on not getting involved in Mideast. Said it always helps our enemies & creates more refugees. Then he saw a picture on TV,” she said.

Even long-time Trump supporter Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars seems angry, tweeting: “I guess Trump wasn’t ‘Putin’s puppet’ after all, he was just another deep state/Neo-Con puppet. I’m officially OFF the Trump train.

“It’s been fun lads, but the fun is over. I’ll be focusing my efforts on Le Pen, who tried to warn Trump against this disaster.”

Clearly, the president – who tweeted in Sept. 2013, “Many Syrian ‘rebels’ are radical Jihadis. Not our friends & supporting them doesn’t serve our national interest. Stay out of Syria!” – was moved by the pictures of dead children, gassed with a weapon produced by Nazi Germany in 1939 but which was outlawed for use in warfare after World War I. And he said as much shortly after those pictures were shown on international TV.

“I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me – big impact,” Trump said in the White House Rose Garden earlier this week. “My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much … You’re now talking about a whole different level.”

And while some are suggesting that the attack was a false flag – in this case, committed by rebel forces and then blamed on the Assad regime – U.S. intelligence does not support that allegation. Also, it’s worth pointing out that this is the second time poison gas has been used against Syrian civilians, allegedly by Assad, and even President Obama acknowledged that when he drew a “red line” in Syria over the use of gas that he would later refuse to enforce. Fifteen hundred people were killed in the first poison gas attack in late 2012.

In addition, every member of the president’s national security team – to include Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – agreed that the strikes were the right thing to do, and at the right time. No dithering, no empty threats, just action. (RELATED: Pentagon Says Russian Fighter Jets ‘Intercepting’ U.S. Drones Over Syria As Moscow Continues To Defy Washington And Protect Assad)

Robert Charles, a former assistant secretary of state under President George W. Bush and a former naval intelligence officer who served in the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses, writing for Fox News, said Trump got this one exactly right:

The swift kinetic response was important on many levels. It tells Assad the game is up on sarin. It tells North Korea to stand by, as they may be next. It tells Russia, China and American detractors that Obama is really gone, the days of non-engagement by America over, and days of proportionate kinetic response are back. America will not sit silent. …

This is not an incidental win, this is critical.

There are valid points to make on both sides, here. Few Americans want to send U.S. forces into another Middle East war, and Sen. Paul is right in that Congress indeed has a role to play, and should. There are others who say the U.S. has no moral authority to exert, either in Syria or elsewhere, and that is reasonable to assert.

But the president’s conscience was obviously tested, as were the consciences of hundreds of millions of people – many living in nations who can’t do what the U.S. can do. Without asking for or making a major new U.S. troop commitment, Trump sent a very clear message to the guilty parties in Syria: You cannot brutally and indiscriminately kill civilians and children, period. It is unacceptable.

As for me, I’m taking a wait-and-see approach. I don’t want to see us bogged down in another Middle East conflict, but I don’t believe Trump acted impulsively or without consideration.

J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for and, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.


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