President Donald Trump’s order to launch cruise missiles at a Syrian air base does not represent a shift in Middle East strategy or his larger foreign-policy views, an administration aide said Friday.
Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that Thursday’s attack was a “surgical strike” with a limited and specific objective. He said it is consistent with Trump’s “America First” agenda.
“In geopolitics and geo-strategy, the moral imperative and the national-security imperative can overlap, and in this case, they absolutely do.”
“That’s why the president did what he did,” he said. “In geopolitics and geo-strategy, the moral imperative and the national-security imperative can overlap, and in this case, they absolutely do.”
Gorka also dismissed suggestions that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may not have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack that sparked the U.S. military response.
“We have the certitude for that,” he said.
Gorka made the case for military action by arguing that the mix of terrorism that directly threatens America and the use of weapons of mass destruction requires a U.S. response. He said the president remains adamantly opposed to invading other countries.
“The president and his fundamental outlook has not changed,” he said. “I can guarantee that for you … This was a surgical strike, using cruise missiles.”
Ingraham recited past quotes and tweets from Trump urging the United States to stay out of Syria.
“How is this not a complete about-face?” she asked.
Gorka said Trump has a new perspective.
“What one says as a businessman who has not had a [security] clearance and sat in the Situation Room, or what one says on the campaign trail in a politically charged environment for a year, is incredibly different to the perspective you may have after you take on the mantle of the commander-in-chief, and you are the person who is responsible for the safety of all Americans,” he said.
Gorka said America cannot stop all the atrocities in the world, but he argued that it should not ignore all of them, either.
“When evil happens, and we are able to do something, do something,” he said.
Gorka sought to differentiate Trump from former President Barack Obama.
“This is not the Obama White House,” he said. “We’re not feckless, and we’re not spineless.”
Gorka said the administration would not “give away the playbook” on future action. But he said it will be calibrated to achieve results with minimal risk to the lives of U.S. servicemen.
“We are going to change the behavior of key actors, and key supporters and sponsors,” he said. “Why? Because the carnage needs to end.”