Following a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians, President Donald Trump authorized a joint strike on the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad alongside the British and French to deter any future use of such weapons.
That decisive response stands starkly different from the dithering and delay exhibited by former President Barack Obama when Assad used chemical weapons in defiance of Obama’s infamous “red line” several years ago, a difference that was duly noted by former Democrat vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman.
During an appearance Sunday on “Fox & Friends,” the former Democrat turned Independent senator from Connecticut expressed how “appreciative” he was that Trump responded with action toward Assad’s illicit activity.
“Part of why we’re in the trouble we’re in in Syria right now is that President Obama drew a red line on chemical weapons, Assad crossed the red line and then nothing happened, and that was an invitation to keep it going,” Lieberman said.
“Let’s say first ‘thank you President Trump,’ you responded and you did it with the English and the French, and it was twice as powerful as last year,” he added.
Lieberman said the one major problem he had with the airstrikes is the great care our military took to avoid hitting any foreign military troops in Syria, namely the Iranians and Russians, and suggested that a broader effort to completely wipe out all of Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities should have been launched, even if such strikes would have killed Iranians or Russians, as “they don’t belong there.”
Lieberman also differed from his former Democratic colleagues in Congress in that he didn’t believe Trump should have been compelled to seek Congressional approval prior to launching the targeted airstrikes — as Congress is unlikely to agree on anything in a timely fashion — and recalled what happened when Obama sought approval from Congress to strike Syria.
“President Obama said he would have to go to Congress and then they kind of reached a conclusion before a debate got going that Congress wouldn’t be supportive,” Lieberman said. “I thought that was a real failure of leadership.”
“In my opinion, if President Obama had acted then and struck the Syrian chemical weapons facilities, it would have succeeded, the mission would have been accomplished and it would have been popular, including with members of Congress.
“If you’re president you’ve got to be a leader, so you can’t wait for a long Congressional debate when somebody like Assad — supported by the Russians and Iranians — has used chemical weapons.”
Lieberman also pointed out how Assad’s regime had brutally cracked down on the “Arab Spring” uprisings and how Obama’s “laying back” on the issue allowed for Russia to “jump in” and reestablish itself in the Middle East.
This wasn’t the first time Lieberman had placed blame for Syria’s continued use of chemical weapons at the feet of Obama. He called the infamous “red line” one of Obama’s “biggest mistakes” in an appearance on Fox News last week, according to the Washington Examiner.
“I think one of the big mistakes President Obama made was drawing that red line, saying if Assad uses gas he will respond. He used gas, and we didn’t do anything,” Lieberman said. “And that just invited a lot of the troubles that have happened since then.”
“The world pulled back, including the U.S. under President Obama, letting this country go wild,” he added. “Assad could do whatever he wanted, Iran was already in there, increased its presence. They have tens of thousands there, and then Russia saw an opening and moved in.
“Assad now thinks he can do whatever he wants to its people, including breaking that line of civil behavior and using gas.”
Of course, now that Trump has decisively struck back against Assad’s use of chemical weapons as opposed to Obama’s inaction, odds are great that the dictator’s calculus — as well as that of his enablers in Iran and Russia — will change in terms of the future use of internationally banned weapons against civilians.
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