Trump Meets Sarin Attack with Airstrike
President Trump ordered an airstrike on Syria on Thursday. This may signal a new willingness to act unilaterally when dealing with foreign crises. The attack was carried out while China’s President Xi Jinping was in Florida for his first meeting with Trump. It could be taken as a symbol that military force is also an option in situations such as North Korea. However, analysts warn that Trump’s show of power could worsen America’s relationship with Russia. The strike could also dig the country deeper into the Middle East political quicksand.
Trump Reverses Stance on U.S. Intervention in Syria
President Trump ordered the strike on the airfield to stop its use as a source of chemical weapons. As a rationale for why he changed his stance on intervention, the President noted that the Syrian civil war had become a major refugee problem. The unstable situation in the Middle East now poses a threat to America, which was previously his criteria for involving U.S. military forces in a conflict. He also called upon the global community to come together to stop the violence in Syria.
Can Missile Strikes Change Assad’s Behavior?
Some members of the political establishment are questioning the use of missiles. They say that this will prove to be only a temporary setback to Syrian President’s Assad’s regime. Undoubtedly, the strikes met established levels of proportionality. The U.S. alerted the Russian troops at the base to avoid collateral damage. Russian President Vladimir Putin has still voiced strong objections to the operation. He argued that the evidence for use of the chemical weapon Sarin by Assad was lacking. He also brought up that civilians living near the airfield may have been killed during the attack.
Russia Angered by Missile Strike on Its Ally
Putin has denied that Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack which incited the retaliatory response. Syria says they attacked a terrorist warehouse filled with dangerous chemical weapons, which caused the civilian fatalities. However, postmortems on the victims have pointed to Sarin as the agent, and the Syrian government is the only source for this weapon in the region. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov drew an explicit link between the airstrike in Syria and the U.S. intervention in Iraq under President George W. Bush, saying, “Everything resembles the situation of 2003, when the USA, the U.K., and several of their allies invaded Iraq without the UN Security Council’s approval— a grave violation of international law—but at that point they at least tried to show some material evidence.”
U.S. Allies Back Trump in Decision to Attack Airfield
In a rare show of solidarity, most of America’s allies have backed the strike. Government officials in Britain approved of the attack. Syria continues to ignore treaties prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. The leaders of both Germany and France also noted that the behavior of Syria’s regime led to the strike. They suggested that the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254, which set up a timetable for a transitional government, be put in place immediately.
China Has a Mixed Reaction to News of the Syrian Airstrike
Political experts attempted to read the reaction of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the strike. He was in the country to discuss economic issues with Trump. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentioned that President Xi had been sympathetic towards the operation, as it was in retaliation for a clear violation of the global ban on chemical weapons. However, when discussing the Syrian operation, Tillerson also stated that the U.S. would be willing to take unilateral action in North Korea if China didn’t put more pressure on its ally to suspend its nuclear weapons program.
Once Xi returned to China following the successful conclusion of the meeting, in which he and Trump agreed to a 100 day plan focused on economic partnership, the Chinese media criticized the military action against Syria, saying that it actually encouraged North Korea to produce nuclear weapons, to deter the U.S. from involvement in the country’s affairs. According to analyst Lu Chao, from the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, “the United States is capable of such an attack against North Korea, but you need to see that North Korea is capable of striking back.”
How Does the Airstrike in Syria Affect Trading?
Given the positive backing of the rest of the world, Trump managed to face his first international crisis while projecting an image of strength and professionalism. This will help America retain its place as a world leader. This should help support the U.S. dollar. Additionally, the general approval of the world’s leaders should head off any reaction by Russia, so the price for gold should fall. The Chinese meeting went well, and President Xi invited Trump for a reciprocal state visit. Hopefully this will avoid a trade war, helping stock prices for companies like Wal-Mart and Target.