It’s no secret that the president came into office woefully unprepared to address the complex foreign policy issues facing the United States. His experience is as a businessman, leading a real estate empire, not as a dutiful student of foreign policy and diplomacy.
This discrepancy between the president’s qualifications and the requirements of his job has reared its head in a variety of ways. Now, Republican U.S. Senator from Arizona John McCain has taken to lambasting the president over his chaotic, inept approach to foreign policy in light of a recent chemical attack against Syrian civilians.
The chemical attack in question took place in Douma and has claimed the lives of dozens of people. One report from Al Jazeera based on testimony from locals has the death toll at 70, and at the time of its publication, a significant number of people remained in critical condition to the point of local rescuers indicating that the death toll was likely to rise. No matter the exact number of affected individuals, it’s clear that the death toll is high.
The Syrian regime, long supported by the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is believed to be behind the attack, which employed chlorine gas and a not immediately identified second, stronger gas, also according to the reporting of Al Jazeera.
The affected town is reported to be the last rebel-held area in Eastern Ghouta, and reports of the chemical attack come in conjunction with the city facing a round of assault from government forces that the government claims is in response to the rebels launching an offensive on Damascus.
Moayed al-Dayrani, a resident and medical volunteer in the town, described the situation to Al Jazeera by saying:
‘Douma has been subject to intense air strikes and much of the city is destroyed. We are currently dealing with more than 1,000 cases of people struggling to breathe after the chlorine barrel bomb was dropped on the city. The number of dead will probably rise even further.’
President Donald Trump responded to reports of the attack by taking to Twitter to blame both Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his predecessor, Barack Obama, who he says didn’t do enough to stop the carnage of the Syrian Civil War from continuing.
‘President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay.’
Of Obama, he stated;
‘If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!’
To be clear, despite the president criticizing his most recent predecessor for supposedly not doing enough in Syria, just recently he himself quipped that we would be soon ending military operations in Syria.
In light of this fact, Sen. McCain, who has clashed with the Trump administration on a number of issues, commented:
‘President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria. Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him, and emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children… President Trump was quick to call out Assad today, along with the Russian and Iranian governments, on Twitter. The question now is whether he will do anything about it. The President responded decisively when Assad used chemical weapons last year. He should do so again, and demonstrate that Assad will pay a price for his war crimes.’
As Sen. McCain mentions, last year following a chemical weapons attack being carried out against Syrian civilians, the Trump administration responded with a barrage of missiles aimed at a Syrian army base.
It remains an open question at this point whether or not the president will respond with a similar step this time around.
Featured Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images