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

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

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.

Although most of the American public supported the strike, some critics were concerned about becoming more deeply embroiled in the Syrian conflict or stumbling into direct military confrontation with Russia. Others were afraid that the rapidity of the U.S. attack indicated that it was more an emotional reaction than part of a coherent strategy.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.