Politics

CNN Bangs War Drums on Syria

Cable network parades hawks who say Trump ‘falling short’ of ‘first true foreign policy test’

CNN on Wednesday framed its coverage of President Donald Trump’s criticism of the Syrian government’s chemical-weapons attack as evidence that he will be forced to pull back from his “America First” foreign policy.

“As this new president is learning, like so many before him, you may want to focus on your domestic agenda; you may want to put America first,” White House correspondent Sara Murray said. “But time and time again, the world intervenes as it did with this brutal attack in Syria. And once again, the world is looking to the U.S. to see how they will respond. Today, we did not get a clear answer.”

“And once again, the world is looking to the U.S. to see how they will respond. Today, we did not get a clear answer.”

In a shift from his somewhat muted response Tuesday to reports of women and children dying from suspected sarin gas, Trump spoke forcefully at a joint news conference with Jordanian King Abdullah II, saying the attack in Syria “crosses many, many lines.”

But Trump stopped short of laying out a specific response. As Murray made clear during her report on “The Lead,” critics in both parties were quick to jump on the president for not doing enough.

“Today, congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle point to Syria as his first true foreign policy test,” she said. “Already, some say, he’s falling short.”

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a news conference: “What he’s done with Syria is emblematic of what he always does. Instead of a policy, instead of action, there’s just blame. Blame doesn’t solve the problem.”

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) even suggested that the Trump administration bears some of the blame for the attack because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently had said that regime change in Damascus no longer was an American goal.

“It’s my belief that if you’re Bashar al-Assad and you read that it is no longer a priority of the United States to have you removed from power, I believe that is an incentive to act with impunity,” he said at a different news conference.

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Of course, while they were happy to criticize Trump, neither Schumer nor Rubio explained how the United States could knock Assad from power without committing tens of thousands of troops to yet another land war in a majority-Muslim country or risking a wider war with Russia, which has deep interests in Syria and soldiers stationed in the country.

They also were silent as to whether they would be willing to support another open-ended occupation aimed at propping up whatever government inherited power from Assad’s fall.

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