by John Gibson
The video of dying children moved President Donald Trump to say “no mas.”
Trump’s attack was intended to warn Syrian dictator Bashar Assad he will not get away with gassing civilians.
But among the casualties of the salvo strike of five dozen (minus one) Tomahawk cruise missiles on a Syrian airfield was none other than former President Obama and his Syria doctrine.
Obama believed it was better if the U.S. stayed out of the Middle East even if he were to be provoked by particularly egregious actions by wildly reckless players like Bashar Assad. This arose, of course, out of Assad’s provocative use of chemical weapons after Obama had declared doing so would cross a “red line”, but then backed away from following through on his own threat. He even called his stand down one of his proudest moments. For a fulsome description of Obama misbegotten policy of purposeful weakness, see Jeffrey Goldberg’s 2016 extended interview with then-President Obama about something vague and ephemeral called The Obama Doctrine.
It took President Donald Trump to enforce Obama’s “red line”. When Trump ordered a retaliatory strike as a stern warning to Assad over the use of Sarin gas on civilians, it was an emphatic statement of a new direction.
In fact, it’s pretty clear that one of the fifty nine missiles fired scored a direct hit on President Trump’s predecessor and his doctrine. The very same Jeffrey Goldberg, who declared there was such a thing as an “Obama Doctrine” was forced by a new reality to this morning declare “Obama Doctrine, R.I.P.”
Part of the reason, of course, was the mere fact of a cruise missile attack on Assad stood in such contrast to President Obama’s inaction. Even persistent and passionate Trump critics like Martha Raddatz of ABC’s This Week program were impressed. She said,”And as soon as he saw the pictures, as soon as he saw those images from that chemical attack, he wanted action. I think this is the single fastest punishing strike I have ever seen.”
None of that crap of spending weeks with a Presidential finger in the international winds, suspense building and polls rolling in to help the President with his momentous decision. No. Shocked by evidence, Order attack. Booming in Syria.
But one other aspect of this episode is the illustration of how miserably the Obama Doctrine failed. That so called doctrine was partly about not attacking yet another mostly Muslim middle eastern country, but it was also about finding another way to rid Assad of his chemical weapons. For that Obama turned to the Russians and made a deal with them that they would take possession of Assad’s chemical weapons and remove them from the country.
Obama even bragged it was a successful policy. Assad was defanged and America didn’t have to launch missiles. Best of both worlds.
Ninety people in agonizing death throes from sarin gas put the lie to that. The Russians did not get all of Assad’s chemical weapons and probably never even intended to.
We can regret the deaths of seven Syrian soldiers in Trump’s attack. Warnings were given to some but evidently not to all, or the Russians ran so fast they didn’t have time to relay the news to their Syrian counterparts.
But we should not regret is the death of the Obama Doctrine.
It was ill advised. It was fraudulent. It was a failure.
But it is now dead. And that’s a good thing.