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Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, pauses while speaking to the media during a press briefing, Washington, April 11, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

How the Trump Team’s Mixed Messages Limited the Effectiveness of the Syria Strike

Friday, April 14, 2017

Without admitting it, U.S. President Donald Trump largely continued his predecessor’s military policy in the Middle East during the opening months of his administration. Like Barack Obama, Trump relied on American airpower and special operations forces to strike directly at the self-styled Islamic State, while deploying other U.S. military units to support local forces battling the extremists.

But after a grotesque chemical attack on a Syrian village by the military of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Trump ordered a retaliatory cruise missile strike against the air base from which the chemical attack was launched. Suddenly a policy that once seemed so clear was in turmoil. ...

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