Making the Syria Strikes Count

    US Navy

In the span of just a few days, U.S. President Donald Trump appears to have met both his first true foreign policy crisis and his most challenging bilateral summit more smoothly than many had feared he might. Whether this turns out to be anything more than a symbolic victory, and whether it has an effect in the fight against terrorism and the effort to rein in North Korea, will depend on what he and his administration do next.

Trump was clearly justified in Thursday’s decision to order cruise missile strikes on Syria’s Shayrat airbase, from where the regime had launched a sarin gas attack on civilians earlier in the week. As a somber Trump noted, the world could not let such a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention — not to mention civilized norms — go unpunished. The strikes themselves were targeted and proportional; the U.S. military says that Russian personnel at the airbase were warned ahead of time to avoid sparking a wider clash. Allies welcomed the move, and it should go some way toward deterring any future use of chemical weapons on the Syrian battlefield.