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The strikes on Syria had to be done

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The United States is not — and should never be — “the world’s policeman.” There are many, many places in the world where humans are suffering on a mass scale, yet we are not involved militarily in alleviating that suffering. Nevertheless, there existed a moral and national security imperative for us to act decisively and with force in Syria last night after the chlorine attack in Douma last week.

Syria has suffered with a civil war for seven years. More than 350,000 people have been killed, with an overwhelming number of civilians among them. During that time, Bashar Assad has demonstrated himself to be even more of a mass-murdering dictator than his father, which is incredible, since it is estimated that the elder Assad killed 20,000 Syrians in just one incident in the city of Hama in 1982.

{mosads}At the same time, the Damascus regime is not a threat, in and of itself, but is an appendage, a satrapy of the theocratic menace that is the fundamentalist regime of the mullahs of Iran — an advanced bridgehead for the Iranian Republican Guard to extend its deadly, destabilizing reach deeper into the region and closer to Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East.

One year ago, Assad used chemical weapons against innocent women and children. Last week, it happened again in a way that, last night, Defense Secretary James Mattis confirmed, was directly linked back to his regime and his forces. Assad did it. Such a blatant attitude to the unfettered use of internationally banned tools of war set a deadly precedent. If we had not responded, Assad would have concluded that he could do so again.

More importantly, his sponsors, Iran and Russia, would have concluded the same, as would others, including North Korea and perhaps even China. Perhaps most disturbing of all, one or another of the multiple non-state actors present in Syria — including the Islamic State, or ISIS — could have acquired such weapons for use against America or her allies.

Subsequently, the president had to act since, as a former special forces officer noted to me this morning after our strike, “Deterrence doesn’t work if no one is deterred.” Indeed. Red lines actually embolden bad actors if one declares them, as President Obama did, and then they are crossed repeatedly but we do nothing.

To those who voted for the iconoclastic outsider, Donald Trump, and are concerned about this commander-in-chief becoming embroiled in a scenario such as President Bush’s invasion of Iraq, I have the following to say: Donald Trump is not a neoconservative and never will be.

From the first moment we met in the summer of 2015, he made it clear to me that using our forces to invade and occupy other countries is fundamentally un-American, born as our nation was in a wholesale rejection of imperialism and colonialism.

Last night was a surgical strike on Syrian chemical capabilities, not the deployment of 160,000 troops effecting a regime change. Assad remains in power, and he may do so for some time. But his capacity to use chemical weapons has been significantly degraded as (we can suspect) has been his desire to use them ever again.

To those who doubt that Assad was the perpetrator of the mass murder in Douma, especially those who help propagate Russia and Syrian disinformation with their conspiracy theories, I have this to share: We have the greatest intelligence capabilities in the world and, while I cannot go into details, I was in the White House when chemical weapons were used in Syria a year ago and then, too, we had the requisite evidence that it was the Syrian government that executed that attack as well, just as Secretary Mattis confirmed yesterday.

President Trump was absolutely right when he stated last night, “We cannot purge the world of evil.” It is not our job to do so. Yet, Edmund Burke’s words of more than two centuries ago still hold: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

When our country was founded, it was done so not as the result of an accident of history but by individuals who believed in immutable and objective moral truths. If those truths still hold today, they are intrinsically intertwined with our role and standing in the world, with the values we say we stand for and the question of whether our word means something.

To put all the pertinent events of the last nine years into perspective and summarize just what happened at 9 o’clock last night: President Trump made good on the “red line” Obama declared but then refused to act upon. At the same time, he reestablished the ground truth that there is no “global community” without American leadership.

Perhaps most important of all for the long-term safety of all Americans, President Trump showed those who wish to challenge and undermine us, who embody the antithesis of our civilizational values — be they in Beijing, Tehran, Pyongyang or Moscow — that he is not afraid to take action. This president is a man of his word and a man of action.

Last night was the clearest expression of Donald Trump’s global geopolitical reset and the reassertion of who we are as a nation, that America will once more stand up to evil.

Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D., is a national security strategist with Fox News and former deputy assistant and strategist to President Trump. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War.” You can follow him on Twitter @SebGorka.

Tags Bashar Assad Donald Trump Foreign policy Global Affairs Israel James Mattis Middle East Military National security Pentagon Russia Sebastian Gorka Syria

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