Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is praising President Trump for ordering a missile strike against a key Syrian airfield in response to Syria’s latest use of chemical weapons against it’s own people, and Bolton says it tells the rest of the world that this administration sees the world much differently than the last one.
“The Obama era in American foreign policy is over and there’s a president in the White House with a very different worldview,” said Bolton, pointing to Obama’s repeated threats of military action in response to using chemical weapons.
He says the Syrians, Russians, and Iranians clearly didn’t expect Trump to act so decisively.
“I think they’re so stunned that Trump acted, given the performance of Obama over the years, saying that that he would view even the movement of chemical weapons as a red line and not enforcing it,” said Bolton.
On Thursday, Trump green-lighted the launch of 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles from American ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The missiles targeted Shayrat Air Base, the installation from which the latest chemical weapons attacks were launched.
Reaction has not fallen along traditional lines. Mainstream Republicans and many liberals are hailing the decision, while some of Trump’s most ardent supporters during the campaign were very critical.
Bolton believes it was the right call.
“Anytime you have an authoritarian regime like this that joins a treaty like the Chemical Weapons Convention, says it will give up these weapons of mass destruction and lies about it and uses the weapons, that is a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” said Bolton.
He is also hopeful that other bad actors around the world will act differently when they see the consequences of Syria’s behavior.
“It’s important around the world that people know that we’re simply not going to tolerate countries entering these treaties and then violating them by using weapons against innocent civilians. I think it’ll have an impact well beyond Syria. I think North Korea and Iran, in particular, should draw a lesson from this. I think China and Russia should as well,” said Bolton.
But is this an isolated strike or the start to a more entangled involvement in the region once again? Bolton says Trump’s actions are unlikely to trigger a slippery slope of U.S. engagement. He also says the region is about to look a bit differently and the U.S. must be positioned well.
“We’re going to defeat ISIS, hopefully in a short period of time, maybe by the end of the year. We need to think ahead to what the Middle East is going to look like post-ISIS and I certainly hope it does not include a Russian airbase at Latakia in Syria, which the Obama administration allowed them to have,” said Bolton.
Bolton says this episode should make it clear that assertions of Trump being a Vladimir Putin stooge were grossly unfounded.
“I think this is very interesting commentary for all those in Washington that basically argued that Trump was a Manchurian candidate with his strings pulled by Moscow. That’s not quite the way this has worked out,” said Bolton.
The timing of the strike played out in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but Bolton says launching the mission while the Chinese president is in the U.S. sends a direct message about North Korea as well.
“It was more than an amazing coincidence that President Xi Xinping of China was in Mar-A-Lago with President Trump when he decided on the airstrike against Syria, certainly people have looked at that possibility with respect to North Korea,” said Bolton.
He says there is great urgency for Trump and Xi to act on North Korea as the communist nation’s nuclear program and missile system continue to advance.
“They’re so far advanced toward putting a nuclear device on an intercontinental ballistic missile and hitting targets on the west coast of the United States in the very near future. Some people have estimated that to mean next year,” said Bolton.
Bolton believes the common ground for Trump and Xi would be for the two Koreas to be united again and erase the nuclear menace.