A de­ci­sive week for the world

Don­ald Trump re­ar­ranged the land­scape with a strike for de­cency — and him­self

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Don­ald Trump fi­nally had a pretty good week af­ter sev­eral weeks that were not so good. The U.S. Se­nate fi­nally con­firmed Neil Gor­such for the U.S. Supreme Court, over­com­ing par­ti­san op­po­si­tion for op­po­si­tion’s sake, and his mis­sile strike on the gov­ern­ment forces of Bashar al-As­sad stunned nearly ev­ery­body, de­stroy­ing the Syr­ian air force base that launched the chem­i­cal strikes on As­sad’s own peo­ple.

One of the pres­i­dent’s one­time crit­ics said Mr. Trump had at last es­tab­lished him­self as “the leader of the free world,” a ti­tle that pres­i­dents be­fore him had taken for granted. For once, the Demo­cratic leadership put aside its pout and stood up to join bi­par­ti­san sup­port for a pres­i­dent’s swift and de­ci­sive pun­ish­ment for an en­emy of the civ­i­lized world.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer, who led a point­less weeks-long as­sault on Neil Gor­such, ral­lied be­hind the pres­i­dent and his as­ser­tion of de­cency in Syria. “Mak­ing sure As­sad knows that when he com­mits such de­spi­ca­ble atroc­i­ties he will pay a price [and that’s] the right thing to do.”

Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, was a bit grudg­ing, urg­ing a de­bate on what the lim­its of Pres­i­dent Trump’s au­thor­ity to make fur­ther war on As­sad, but she said the mis­sile strike “ap­pears to be a pro­por­tional re­sponse to the [As­sad] regime’s use of chem­i­cal weapons.”

Such a de­bate is a good idea. The Amer­i­can public clearly does not have an ap­petite for an­other war in the Mid­dle East any more than Mr. Trump him­self said he did dur­ing the late pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. But some of the loud­est praise for Mr. Trump’s de­ci­sive ac­tion comes from mem­bers of the late and lamented ad­min­is­tra­tion of Barack Obama, who de­liv­ered big talk, red lines and what he might do about As­sad, and then did noth­ing. “This shows the moral de­prav­ity of the last ad­min­is­tra­tion,” one for­mer mem­ber of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion tells a blog­ging pun­dit for the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions. “I’m stunned.”

In­deed, the strike was or­dered by a pres­i­dent we haven’t seen be­fore. Mr. Trump has been, and per­haps still is, wary of Amer­i­can in­ter­ven­tions in crises abroad. Or­der­ing 59 mis­siles on an air field af­ter tip­ping the Rus­sians, and no doubt through them the Syr­i­ans, that de­struc­tion was on the way and they should (and did) get out of the way, is not the same as or­der­ing a reg­i­ment of Marines to their land­ing boats. But it was, in fact, stun­ning.

This should put to rest the no­tion that Don­ald Trump has made some sort of se­cret ac­cord with the Rus­sians, that he would de­fer Amer­i­can in­ter­ests to those of Moscow. Many Democrats in the In­sur­rec­tion move­ment have been telling each other this since the Novem­ber elec­tion. But now Vladimir Putin him­self calls the Tom­a­hawk mis­sile strike a vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional law and “a sig­nif­i­cant blow” to U.S.-Rus­sian re­la­tions.

In ad­di­tion to the hu­man­i­tar­ian jus­tice of the strike, Mr. Trump sent a needed mes­sage to the pur­vey­ors of trou­ble else­where that the new pres­i­dent bears small re­sem­blance to the pres­i­dent who pre­ceded him. Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping of China, by happy co­in­ci­dence, was the pres­i­dent’s week­end guest at Mar-a-Lago, and had a ring­side seat as the Syr­ian strike and the af­ter­math un­folded. “The crazy fat kid” in Py­ongyang con­tin­ues to rat­tle his nu­clear toys, with new boasts that he has taken the United States “to the brink.” He, too, got a demon­stra­tion that he is deal­ing with a new kind of pres­i­dent.

Nikki Ha­ley, the new am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, has given the del­e­gates the word that there’s a new sher­iff in town, and they should un­der­stand they’re deal­ing with a new re­al­ity. There’s a new high sher­iff in Wash­ing­ton, too, and the week that was has lessons for every­one.

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