Trump Says Syria Sarin Attack 'Unacceptable' to Him, Attitude Toward Assad 'Changed Very Much'

Trump said he was "flexible" on world affairs-the public tends to be less skeptical of interventionism in the wake of chemical attacks, too.



President Trump addressed yesterday's alleged Syrian sarin attack, calling it an "attack on children" that "had a big impact" on him in a joint press conference with the king of Jordan. "It was a horrible, horrible thing, and I've been watching it and seeing it and it doesn't get any worse than that," Trump continued, saying the attack had changed his attitude toward Syria and President Bashar Assad.

"I like to think of myself as a very flexible person, I don't have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don't change—well I do change, and I am flexible, and I'm proud of that flexibility," Trump explained.

An apparent attack with a chemical agent, likely nerve gas, yesterday, which reportedly killed at least 70 people, including more than 20 children, was the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since 2013, when hundreds were killed. Back then the U.S. and the West briefly flirted with a military intervention before an off-handed remark by then-Secretary of State John Kerry opened the door for Russia to offer to broker a voluntary chemical weapons disarmament by Syria. That year the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which helped facilitate the disarmament, won a Nobel Peace Prize. Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the gas attacks were a "consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution."

Trump's pivot on potential intervention in Syria aimed at Assad (as opposed to the ongoing intervention aimed at ISIS) is emblematic of the public's attitudes too—the use of chemical weapons tends to increase support for military intervention. That pretty intuitive influence led some to question whether the Syrian regime, perceived to be on the verge of victory over rebels, would use such weapons. Russia, Syria's strongest allies, claims the Syrian warplanes hit an arms depot in a rebel-held area that included chemical weapons. A military expert told BBC the claim was "completely unsustainable and completely untrue."

While today's comments are the sharpest against Assad the president himself has made, his administration has more or less continued the Obama-era policy of objecting to Assad's rule but accepting the reality that he is firmly in control. A few days ago, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Assad's "long-term status" would be up to the people of Syria. That should be an uncontroversial, basic articulation of the principle of self-determination, yet today Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he did not think it was a "coincidence" that the gas attack came days after Tillerson's statement.

"In this case now, we have very limited options," Rubio admitted, though that admission rarely causes interventionists pause, "and look, it's concerning that the secretary of state said that the future's up to the people in Syria on what happens with Assad." Who else should it be up to? Certainly not Washington. And neither should Moscow's role in thwarting self-determination be an impetus for the U.S., too, to interfere.

The United Nations Security Council is meeting to discuss a response to the attacks, although Russia's veto power in the body precludes any kind of resolution like the one that provided cover for the U.S.-backed intervention in Libya in 2011. Nevertheless, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned the council that if it did not do something, the U.S. could act unilaterally. Such a move risks further destabilizing the Middle East and complicating U.S. quagmires across the region, with little if any substantive benefit. Over the last seven years of civil war in Syria, it has become less and less likely that whatever fills the vacuum created by Assad's removal would be any less brutal than the current regime.

It's hard, too, not to wonder whether months of incessant Trump-Russia rumormongering in Washington has pushed the Trump administration to taking a more provocative stance vis a vis Russia, as the Obama administration did for years to disastrous effect, shutting down any possibility of cooperation on counterterrorism efforts in favor of treating Russia like yet another nemesis to justify even more interventions in the Middle East.

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  1. “I like to think of myself as a very flexible person, I don’t have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don’t change?well I do change, and I am flexible, and I’m proud of that flexibility,” Trump explained.

    Did he, though? Explain, i mean.

    1. He was obviously talking about his sex life.

    2. It means he’s now OK with fake news reports created by the deep state.

    3. “I don’t change-well I do change”
      That’s informative.


    1. More a luxurious mix of colors – great colors that can only originate in the beautiful granite and marble quarries that are mined exclusively by Trump and that he is intending to redecorate the UN with – – if they ask him to speak at the UN and tell him what color the line is.

    2. There are many many lines past the red line

      “It crossed a lot of lines for me,” ~ Drumpf.

      But since he did not say that lines should not be crossed “or else” any action or inaction, perceived or otherwise is the black guy’s fault.

      Meanwhile ISIS has been defeated in 30 days

  3. “I like to think of myself as a very flexible person, I don’t have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don’t change?well I do change, and I am flexible, and I’m proud of that flexibility,” Trump explained.

    Trump stole my senior yearbook quote!

    1. I am proud of that flexibility. It got me several lucrative movie roles.

  4. And exactly ow is this a U.S. problem and what could the U.S, do about it? Bad things happen all over the world. Look at South Sudan,for one.

    1. He’s going to send a strongly worded tweet.

  5. I would like to see some evidence it was Assad. 6 days after Trump said syrians decide assad’s fate, 2 days before international peace conference, and months and months of the syrian arab army gaining ground, they decide to drop sarin in a militarily insignificant location? not to mention international weapons inspectors signed off syria was chemical weapons free in 2014 after destroying it all on US warships..

    color me skeptical..

    1. FWIW, Russia hasn’t denied it was Assad but are reaffirming their commitment to him and fighting ISIS.

      “Moscow will continue to support Syrian Army troops in their anti-terrorism effort, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, after being asked whether Russian policy had changed following a reported chemical attack in the Idlib province.
      Peskov cited the opinion of the Russian military, which said the contamination may have been caused by damage to a rebel chemical weapons storage site.”

      1. Yes, they say it was a conventional attack on rebel weapons cache and the rebels happened to be storing chemical weapons there. The story you linked to said this.

  6. Can’t have failing government without inexplicable wars and police state scary.

    1. Well,Rome wasn’t lost in a day,you know.

  7. There goes Trump, encoursging illiberal world leaders again.

  8. There goes Trump, encoursging illiberal world leaders again.

  9. “Over the last seven years of civil war in Syria, it has become less and less likely that whatever fills the vacuum created by Assad’s removal would be any less brutal than the current regime.”

    80% of the population lives in government areas and are largely terrified of the rebels. if the syrian arab army falls, the refugee and humanitarian disasters are just in their infancy..

  10. The one way in which I’d agree with Rubio’s comments is that it’s not really up to the people of Syria if he stays when he rules with an iron fist. There likely won’t be any self-determination there. That said, from a practical POV and after reading Rubio’s full comments, he seems in denial about the fact that there’s really no way to oust Assad short of full-blown military intervention resulting in Iraq War 2: Syria Boogaloo, and there isn’t a clear option to replace him that’s significantly better than he is.

    1. there isn’t a clear option to replace him that’s significantly better than he is.

      I’m sure Ahmed Chalabi has a relative who could do it.

  11. we don’t have to intervene everywhere in fact interventions have often shown to only prolong the suffering of the innocent.. the middle east is 50 years of proof of that.

  12. So there was no need to get involved when it was a battle to the death between Asshat and the Incredible Scum.
    But now that Asshat supposedly (are they sure it wasn’t actually Incredible Scum?) decided to gas a bunch of non-combatants, we need to DO SOMETHING.

    Oh, and we were previously giving aid to fight the Incredible Scum, but now that Asshat has supposedly released some gas, we need to do a 180 and start helping the Incredible Scum in their quest to overthrow Asshat.

    Makes sense. Because, you know, stoning women and throwing gays off the roof is bad, but gassing people is just too much!

    Have I got all that right?

    Remind me again how libertarians are terrible for being such isolationists?

    1. I’m not wild about the term “isolationists”. I don’t think it really applies to many libertarians. More like “mind-your-own-businessist”. We shouldn’t isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. We just don’t need to get involved in other people’s wars.

  13. What a fuckung idiot, Trump comes out in favor of the rebels who did the gassing because they were losing. Assad had nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing this, so he obviously DIDN’T FUCKING DO IT! USE YOUR FUCKING BRAIN OR AT LEAST WAIT FOR SOME FUCKING EVIDENCE. FUCKHEAD.

  14. The Council made a big mistake trusting Sarin; he’s been dangerous since he allied with the Geth.

    1. Well done, sir. I knew Commander Sheppard would take care of it, though.

  15. Why, exactly, is the USA in the business of enforcing the ban on chemical weapons right over on the other side of the world?

  16. Trump is now going against what he run on – he has joined with NATO to finally eliminate ALL dictators and allow the completion of the Arab Spring aka Caliphate!!!!!

    Syria chemical weapons: finger pointed at jihadists – Telegraph
    A medic at the local civilian hospital – said that he personally witnessed Syrian army helping those wounded and dealing with fatalities at the scene. That Syrian soldiers were among the reported 26 deaths has not been disputed by either side.
    The military source who spoke to Channel 4 News confirmed that artillery reports from the Syrian Army suggest a small rocket was fired from the vicinity of Al-Bab, a district close to Aleppo that is controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra – a jihadist group said to be linked with al-Qaeda and deemed a “terrorist organisation” by the US.
    The American and independent weapons analysts do not believe that the regime or rebels used advanced chemical weapons last week, after studying initial intelligence reports and video coverage of survivors on state-run television.
    However, they suspect that the victims were deliberately exposed to a “caustic” agent such as chlorine. This does not count as a chemical weapon, under terms laid down by international treaties, but as an improvised chemical device would represent a major escalation in the conflict.…..dists.html

  17. For Pete’s sake, does anyone really believe that Assad would use chemical weapons? He has NOTHING to gain and EVERYTHING to lose by doing so. There are only three parties that would ganin from this and they are all supposedly on the same side – The U.S. who have had dethroning Assad as a principal agenda for decades. The Turkish, would want to seize land in Syria. And finally, the Rebels who also want Assad gone and many of which are eyeing the potential to create a new state/caliphate.

    Using chemical weapons would cost Assad everything because it would turn the west against him entirely, cost him his closest ally in Russia, along with all their material support, because it would make it diplomatically untenable to continue supporting him. It would and is currently the best recruitment tool the rebel opposition could have, and why would you want to bolster their numbers by doing so. Assad hasn’t held power this long because he is stupid.

    Lastly, we have already had two other supposed chemical attacks bt his regime that turned out to be rebels – one of which we have compelling proof Turkey (our ally) may have directly abetted. Is this a case of keep throwing it till it sticks? I think so.

  18. Yes, he will now bomb the shit outta them. Just like he promised during his campaign.

  19. Correction: Trump Stalks Syria.

  20. Trump watch a film and immediately jumps to a conclusion of who the bad guy is. Typical Trump. What about the evidence that at least some of the victims were recently kidnapped by Al Qaeda which is and has always been CIA funded. Saudi Arabia is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world and it appears they have the world’s biggest bully, the US on a leash. Could someone please explain to me why we the people continue to put up with this.

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