Friday night, the U.S. military, in coordination with our allies, the United Kingdom and France, launched targeted missile strikes to damage the Syrian government’s ability to use chemical weapons. The attack was not a surprise. Unlike his predecessor, President Trump has been clear that use of chemical weapons actually does cross a red line that we and our allies will not tolerate. As with everything this president does, reaction is all over the map, making strange bedfellows, but the selection of France and the UK as our partners is telling and substantial.
Throughout the twentieth century, the UK, France, and the United States have stood time and time again on the right side of history as the cornerstones of Western opposition to totalitarianism around the globe. Whether it was World War One, World War Two, or the Cold War, this trilateral alliance faced down aggression and genocide, and won. Trump is wise to get the band back together, and as Americans we should be proud to once again stand shoulder to shoulder with these, our most steadfast allies, with whom our historical ties are uniquely strong.
Along with sending a clear message to bad state actors around the world that the West is not backing down, this coalition also sends some clear messages to Trump’s critics at home. Those who believe or suggest, as Rachel Maddow and Ana Navarro have, that Trump is engaged in a wag-the-dog attack meant to distract from domestic difficulties, must answer why France and the UK would go along with such self-serving use of force. Why would they do Trump this favor if they don’t believe the action is sound and warranted?
Perhaps more pointedly, this punch to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s gut must surely make claims that Trump is somehow a Russian puppet fall apart. It requires some Alex Jones-level tinfoil hat conspiracy-theorizing to imagine this is all a false flag. No, this trilateral attack in defense of human rights and Western values is succor to those who believe Trump’s dealing with Putin, albeit unorthodox, have amounted now to a Rooselveltian big stick after soft words.
Thus far, reaction from congressional Democrats has been frankly shameful. Take Rep. Ted Lieu.
In addition to the US attack being unconstitutional, the Pentagon has no real strategy in Syria. Last year's strike did not deter Assad. Why would this strike?
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 14, 2018
Regardless of his feelings about war powers each of our past four presidents have used, would it be too much to ask Democrats to say something more like “I’m grateful for our brave troops, and allies France and the U.K., tonight. Whatever our political differences, standing up to tyrants who use chemical weapons is always in the interest of America.”
There will be plenty of time to score political points. Why weaken the message of our country and its allies by immediately focusing on our internal dissension? And if Democrats like Lieu “believe it was wrong to do,” where is the condemnation of France and the UK?
We live in a time when too many people of all political stripes moan and groan about the decline of Western civilization, its evils and wrongs, its excesses and mistakes. Yet now, as in the twentieth century, it is this same West, in the form of its most iconic national powers, once again acting to save innocent women and children from the genocidal chemical attacks of a tyrant.
Today is a day to be proud: Proud of our military, proud of our allies, and yes, even proud of our president. It is also a day to remember that the West has not been lost and will not be soon. In Russia, Iran, and China the realization is setting in that the era of Obama’s cautious leadership from behind is over. The countries that for 200 years have moved the globe in the right direction are still here, and still more powerful than any foe.
As we pray for our troops and leaders today, as well as the countless victims of Syrian brutality, we should also breathe a sigh of relief. The West has never backed down to bullies, and it won’t now. Let that message be spread around the world.