Armstrong Williams: America finally leads from the front on Syria
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For the last six years, Syrian President Bashar Assad has literally been allowed to get away with murder. This week, his forces once again gassed their own people to death, including women and children, demonstrating Assad’s complete disregard for the sanctity of human life. With the international community unwilling to take the necessary steps to bring an end to the carnage, the U.S. took action.

Dozens of missiles were fired by American forces at a Syrian military airfield Thursday night in response to the chemical weapons attack, which killed at least 70 people.  President Trump has now called for "all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.”


Despite stark warnings by the United States not to use chemical weapons, Assad’s government did just that in 2013. Unfortunately, the Obama administration made a huge strategic error by declining to live up to our word, and in essence choosing to look away from Assad’s gross violation of America’s stated “red line.”  In total, 400,00 people have been killed in fighting in Syria, with millions more displaced.


The events have been disturbing at a level that is hard to even comprehend. Syrian civilians have been summarily executed.  The Syrian military has bombed hospitals, clinics and aid workers trying to bring relief to the injured.  Barrel bombs, designed to inflict maximum casualties, have been dropped on civilian areas not by mistake, but by design.

Russia is continuing to empower Assad by blocking diplomatic moves to hold Syria accountable for its actions.  Essentially, Assad is being given diplomatic cover at Turtle Bay so that Russia can retain a foothold and influence in the Middle East.

As news began to break of the latest chemical weapon attack, the Russian ambassador to the U.N. put forward a narrative completely divorced from reality, suggesting that Syrian airstrikes hit rebel-held chemical storages on the ground, releasing the chemicals that caused the massacre. Such a ridiculous assertion has been widely rejected by experts who contend that such a strike would destroy chemical weapons, not activate them.

The UN and its ability to act against Syria is being cynically stymied by continuous Russian intransigence. Just days before the airstrike, the United States called for collective action by our allies to address the murder and mayhem that continues to be a part of daily life in Syria.

Nikki Haley, the excellent U.S. Ambassador to the UN, deserves credit for speaking bluntly and delivering the truth about the situation. Her scathing critique of Russia following this latest outrage was on point.  Her decision to hold aloft actual pictures of children gassed to death by Assad and his military murder machine were theatrical, but stunningly effective at bringing attention to the gravity of the war and the heinous nature of Syria’s crimes. “How many more children have to die before Russia cares?” she asked.

Haley was right when she asserted that sometimes states have to act in their best interests without waiting for the UN.  Time and again, the UN has proven itself to be completely ineffective when needed the most.  America has now delivered a message that it will not stand idly by in the face of Syrian atrocities.

Moving forward, the United States must strike a very careful balance: on the one hand we must assiduously avoid becoming mired in a long-term military conflict in Syria, especially given that it could bring us into direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, which have continued to back the Assad regime.

On the other, President Trump has signaled that while the UN Security Council may be deadlocked because of Russian support for Assad, America will not allow itself to be constrained by the failure of the international body to respond as appropriate to moral outrages.  

Video footage taken at the scene of the latest chemical weapons attack shows women and children foaming at the mouth and writhing in agony. Yes, it is very hard to look at, but we do not have the luxury of continuing to look away.

Russia should be ashamed of its support for a maniacal dictator whose depravity appears to know no depths.  How many more innocents have to die before the world unites to demand that Russia stop covering for the Assad regime?   

What will it take to bring a final end to this horror? That remains to be seen.  However, America is signaling that it is willing to boldly lead, and to seek new ways to rally our allies and stop the destruction, bloodshed and murder.

Armstrong Williams served as an advisor and spokesman for Dr. Ben Carson's presidential campaign. He is Manager and Sole Owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the year. Listen to Mr. Williams on Sirius XM126 Urban View nightly 6:00-8:00pm EST. Follow him on Twitter @arightside.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.