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The liberal world order isn’t dead yet. On Tuesday morning, in an attempt to terrorize the Syrian population into submission by, among other things, demonstrating that there was no crime so monumental it would trigger an international response, the regime of Bashar al-Assad deployed nerve agent against the town of Khan Shaykhun, massacring at least 84 people. A third of them were children.
On the evening of 6 April, President Donald Trump ordered cruise missile strikes that demolished the airbase from which Assad launched this latest atrocity. In doing so, the President has created the space to chart a new way forward after six years of failed Western policy that have led to a humanitarian abomination and a strategic catastrophe threatening the Atlantic Alliance.
In August 2013, Assad murdered 1,400 people in a few hours with Sarin nerve agent. This crossed then-President Barack Obama’s “red line” and it appeared that a round of punitive strikes would be directed against the regime. In the course of events, Russia took advantage of Obama’s reluctance to provide a fig-leaf so that he would call off the strikes, a “deal” that was supposed to remove Assad’s chemical weapons.
This re-legitimized Assad. It made him a partner in disarmament, discrediting rebels aligned with the West and empowering jihadists who fought alongside the revolutionaries and said the West was on Assad’s side all along. And, of course, Assad never did disarm: the moment he did, his usefulness was at an end. Meantime, Assad switched to chlorine gas and in December even returned to the use of nerve agents.
Despite the devastating consequences in Syria and the proliferating use of chemical weapons as the international taboo frays, Obama has said he is “very proud” of his stand-down in 2013, and indeed touted his entire Syria policy as the best that could have been done. Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, defended the 2013 actions as recently as January, saying they had forced the Assad regime to “verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile”.
Read the rest at The International Business Times