On Thursday, Apr. 6 President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. Navy to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase.
The strike was a response to a Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun, that killed scores of Syrian citizens.
However, 34 of the 59 missiles launched at the airbase were either shot out of the sky, thrown off course by electronic counter-measures, or plopped into the Mediterranean sea.
This confused many, as Trump was one of the loudest voices against getting further involved in the bloody five year long civil war.
Political Science Professor Joel Blank said this is Trump attempting to portray himself as being unpredictable, putting other countries on notice.
However he noted it’s part of a larger problem.
“I don’t think the Trump administration up until now is clear on what it wants to accomplish in regard to foreign policy,” he said.
This comes after the 2013 gas attack, after which Assad agreed to disassemble his chemical weapon caches.
The damage done to the airbase was insignificant as the planes stationed continued operating as though nothing happened the Friday after the attack.
Russia condemned the attack on Friday and suspended a 2015 memorandum dedicated to decreasing in-flight incidents between the U.S. and Russia as it operated in Syria.
The strike earned Trump praise from various media outlets, politicians such as John McCain and Hillary Clinton, NATO countries and others.
However, politicians Rand Paul and Tulsi Gabbard have questioned the strike, seeing it as nothing more than a continuation of the intervention Trump campaigned against.
Questions began to rise as to whether Assad was even behind the attack surfaced as concrete evidence is scarce.
“There are two points to this; either he took chemical gas from Russia and used it on his own people, and the second argument is that it’s not in his own interest to use chemical weapons, especially at this point, a week after the Secretary of Defense said that the ‘fate of Syria will be decided by the Syrian people’, this suggests that he does not support regime change,” said Delta College student Jude GeaGea.
Despite this, GeaGea does believe Assad did carry out the attack.
“My personal belief is that Assad has his head held up high because he has Russia’s support. I think Russia knew about the chemical attack and that Assad did it on purpose to see if the U.S. would say something. That’s what I believe, but there’s no proof.”
GeaGea supported the strike, but wasn’t comfortable with Trump deciding to attack Syria without going to Congress for approval, stating he was not comfortable with “one man decisions,” that may or may not have been swayed by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.
However, Blank said Trump acted constitutionally.
“America is signatory to a number of treaties regarding chemical weapons… he even complied with the War Powers Act,” he said.
The War Powers act was passed in 1973 after Vietnam as a check on the president’s ability to commit troops without the consent of Congress.
After the strike, fears of a potential war with Russia flared up again, however Blank doesn’t see war erupting over a shattered country like Syria, describing Putin as a “calm, rational realist who understands the limits of Russian power,” which includes a spiraling economy having to once again having to cut the country’s military budget.