Thursday, Sep 20, 2018
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Editorials

EDITORIAL

The West stands up

  • Syria-US-6

    Damascus skies erupt with surface to air missile fire as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria on April 14.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Syria-Missile-Shot

    Missiles streak across the Damascus skyline Saturday as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the capital.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Syria-Missile-Shot-1

    A Syrian soldier films the damage of the Syrian Scientific Research Center which was attacked by U.S., British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar Assad for suspected chemical attack against civilians, in Barzeh, near Damascus, Syria.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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The united French, British, and American raid on Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure — bombing and disabling several targets — was a risky but morally and politically necessary action.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was at pains to describe the raid as tactical and limited — a targeted one-off. She was saying to the Russians: We do not want World War III, but are finished enabling you and your puppets. We will not tolerate the gassing of civilians — not by anyone.

Nerve gas has been anathema to the world community since World War I. But for a leader to kill so many of his own people to maintain power by terror takes us back to an even earlier time than that, maybe to Genghis Khan in the 13th century.

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But, make no mistake, this was a warning to Vladimir Putin as well as Bashar al-Assad.

The United States and its two longtime allies redrew the red line that had been obliterated by a failure of nerve by the U.S. and the West generally: There will be cost for your barbarities.

Will any cost, short of regime change, ever be enough to chasten the monster in Syria, or Mr. Putin?

Perhaps not. And regime change might very well lead to a wider war, as indeed even this measured response still might.

So one might argue that the strike, though it risked much, was not enough.

But in the larger sense, the West did what it should have done a long time ago. It stood up for decency and international law. It stood up to those who are defenseless. It stood up for itself, and for simple humanity, and redeemed some self-respect.

This does not happen often. Too often in American foreign policy we have looked away and turned our heads from the slaughter of the innocent.

So we should feel proud as Americans.

We did the right thing in Syria, as did our two great, old friends.

Let’s take a break from the Comey Chronicles to feel proud and send those who protect us — from Gen. James Mattis, to all the grunts and sailors and airmen in harm’s way, to the national guardsmen and the fresh ROTC cadets — our gratitude and prayers.

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