This is the first in a series of USRESIST NEWS Briefs that chronicle the flip-flop nature of many of the Trump administration’s foreign policies.
President Trump does not have a consistent policy on Syria nor Bashar al-Assad, and this confusing stance damages American interests in the region. The Assad regime uses chemicals weapons on its own people, colludes with Russia to maintain an authoritarian state, and fails to uphold even the most basic democratic principles. So how does Trump view this issue? We don’t really know.
Back in 2013, President Trump seemed to agree with the Obama Administration’s position to renege on its “red line” on Syria. He talked about coalition-building with the Russians, and his America First policy (which is mostly an amalgamation of rhetoric and lofty ideals) led many to believe that Syrian intervention was out of the question. Only days before his missile strike, many White House staffers informed the press that regime change was no longer on the agenda of the United States.
Yet in early April 2017, after another chemical weapons strike by the Assad regime, President Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at a military facility outside of Homs, Syria. Trump was reportedly very disturbed by the pictures of children affected by chemical weapons, yet this decision disappointed many of his supporters on the alt-right. While his administration still flounders on developing a coherent policy in regards to Syria, Trump appears to have no problem engaging in the Middle East.
Having a confusing policy regarding the most dangerous state in the Middle East will only open up the United States to more criticisms and failures. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Tillerson continues to speak of peace and accountability with the Assad regime, and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has repeatedly suggested that America is interested in forced regime change. Not only does President Trump change his mind without justification, but his international delegation fails to send a single message regarding our policy towards Syria and Assad.