Let's be really clear about the main reason behind President Trump authorizing missile strikes against Syria in retaliation for that country's use of chemical weapons. It was inevitable, precisely because former President Obama made it inevitable.
Obama infamously drew his 'red line' over Syria, then refused to act when it was crossed, reportedly because of ongoing negotiations with Iran, which is involved in the Syrian conflict. That meant that he - and, by extension, the USA - was regarded as weak, soft and indecisive by most of the 'power players' in the region.
When Syria used chemical weapons again, a few days ago, it was essentially a direct challenge to the USA, and to President Trump. "Let's see if you've got your balls back." Well, President Trump has now demonstrated that things are, indeed, different on his watch.
- He's shown President Assad, in a measured, proportional response, that actions have consequences.
- He's shown Russia's President Putin that he'd better get his Syrian house in order, and rein in his clients in that country, or face burgeoning difficulties with the USA as well.
- He's demonstrated to Iran that it no longer has a free hand in Syria, and, by extension, elsewhere.
- And he's demonstrated to the world that President Obama's reluctance to act is no longer a factor in world politics.
I wish the strike had not been necessary. I don't want the US involved in any more foreign entanglements - rather the opposite. I'd like to see us able to concentrate on domestic issues that are crying out for some serious attention. However, under the geopolitical circumstances inherited by President Trump from the globally ghastly effects of the Obama administration, I don't see that there was any alternative but to launch the attack. Failure to do so would have reinforced the perception of American weakness that Mr. Trump's predecessor left behind him, like a bad taste in the world's mouth.
Let's hope that one strike will be enough to send the message, and ensure its reception.