Like 58 percent of Americans (according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday), we supported airstrikes against the Syrian government of Bashar Assad by the U.S., Britain and France earlier this month in response to what is believed to have been use of chemical weapons against civilians in rebel-held Douma.
From a human standpoint, use of chemical weapons crosses a line civilized governments share an obligation to defend.
"The use of chemical weapons is a flagrant violation of international law," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (all 29 NATO member nations supported the action) said in an interview with National Public Radio. "It violates the convention banning chemical weapons. It violates multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. And it violates also agreements that actually Syria signed when they promised to abolish, to get rid of all their chemical weapons. I think that we have a responsibility, all of us, to make sure that these weapons are not accepted as some kind of normal thing. And that's the reason why the international community had to react the way it did."
Time will tell to what extent the airstrikes impact use of chemical weapons in Syria, but the decision to deliver a message to the Assad regime was the right one.
Moving forward, our biggest question about Syria is this: What exactly is the Trump administration's overall strategy in this civil war-torn nation?
After seven years, fighting continues. Involved are government forces, anti-government rebels and Islamic State rebels. Hundreds of thousands have died, millions of refugees have fled. Internal and regional complexities with the potential for serious repercussions abound.
Americans deserve to know what is the Trump administration's plan in Syria. If the U.S. remains engaged, what are our objectives, why are these objectives important and what will be required to meet them? When ISIS is defeated, will the U.S. leave Syria entirely and, if so, why is this an advisable policy?
Members of Congress and U.S. allies should be consulted and involved in development of a blueprint for the future and the president should explain it in a comprehensive speech.
Following this month's airstrikes, President Trump declared "mission accomplished." That may be true insofar as a strong response to use of chemical weapons is concerned, but what should be the broader, long-term mission for America in Syria remains a question in need of a more specific answer.