Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has once again unleashed chemical weapons against his own people.
The “poisonous gas,” as one Syrian activist put it, was dropped by helicopters in a series of airstrikes in the city of Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib province, one of the last enclaves of rebel control in the area, mainly administered by al Qaeda and other Islamist groups.
But videos on social media do not show jihadis lying as waxy corpses in makeshift hospitals. They show children. In one image, published by Al Jazeera, a half dozen are laid out in a row under a blanket in the back of a pickup truck. Boys on the left, girls on the right, their ages probably as young as 3.
Dr. Firas Jundi, health minister for the opposition interim government, told The Daily Beast he had the names of 60 people killed in the gas attack. He said the death toll was bound to rise as there are 300 wounded, many in critical care hospitals and clinics throughout the province…
The airstrikes started at around 6:30 Tuesday morning.
The attack came just four days after U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters, “our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.” That was followed by Sec. of State Tillerson saying that Assad’s longer-term status “will be decided by the Syrian people.”
To further confuse things, on Friday Haley called Assad a “war criminal,” but said that the U.S. might cooperate with him to defeat ISIS.
Today, when news broke about the chemical attack, Sean Spicer read this statement:
Spicer: “These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.”
Note that the first instinct of the Trump administration is to find someone to blame. So let’s be clear. The person to blame is Assad.
Secondly, the reason Spicer is so intent on pointing the finger of blame at “the past administration” is because the current crew has so obviously muddled the U.S. position over the last few days that it is hard to avoid the question of whether or not they signaled weakness to Assad.
While the incompetence of the Trump White House might be what is saving us from even more draconian domestic policy, it is literally a ticking time bomb on foreign policy.