The international community is conflicted
Late Thursday evening word broke that the United States hit Syria with more than 50 tomahawk missiles. President Donald Trump said in a statement that the bombing took place because it is “in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
The news spread quickly on social media, with most expressing confusion over the political maneuver. In Washington, political leaders from both sides also shared their mixed emotions over the bombing. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., tweeted, "Airstrikes are an act of war. Atrocities in Syria cannot justify departure from Constitution, which vests in Congress power to commence war."
Airstrikes are an act of war. Atrocities in Syria cannot justify departure from Constitution, which vests in Congress power to commence war.— Justin Amash (@Justin Amash) 1491533881
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., meanwhile, put out a joint statement supporting the president’s actions saying, “Unlike the previous administration, President Trump confronted a pivotal moment in Syria and took action. For that, he deserves the support of the American people.”
And in a well-timed coincidence, just hours before the bombing, Hillary Clinton said the United States should take out Syria’s airfields during a speech at the Women in the World summit in New York City. “Assad has an air force, and that air force is the cause of most of these civilian deaths as we have seen over the years and as we saw again in the last few days,” Clinton said. “And I really believe that we should have and still should take out his airfields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.”
The decisive move is one even Trump himself disagreed with at times. As many have pointed out, President Trump tweeted numerous times throughout the years that it would be a poor political move to bomb Syria, or even get involved in the conflict. As recently as May 2016, Trump said on an interview with MSNBC that the United States had “bigger problems than Assad. I would have stayed out of Syria and wouldn’t have fought so much for Assad, against Assad.”
Trump, Clinton, and the rest of the United States aren’t alone in feeling conflicted over what to do next in Syria, a country that has been in a disastrous civil war for more than six years. The rest of the world is now beginning to share their reactions to the bombing, with leaders around the world sharing their thoughts and their country’s position.
“Amid the missile strikes, it is hardly reasonable to talk about any more increase in the risk, as the risk has increased considerably,” Dmitry S. Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin, said in a press briefing. As a result, Russia froze a critical agreement on military cooperation with the United States in Syria, The New York Times reported.
United Kingdom: Supports
"The U.K. government fully supports the U.S. action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks," a U.K. government spokesperson said in a statement, according to CNN.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a news briefing on Friday, “We are concerned about the current situation in Syria and call for political settlement. We hope all sides will stay calm and exercise restraint to prevent the escalation of tension.”
Saudi Arabia: Supports
According to a statement from the Saudi Press Agency, "A responsible source at the foreign ministry expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's full support for the American military operations on military targets in Syria, which came as a response to the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians.” It additionally called the strike a “courageous act.”
"We strongly condemn any unilateral military action and the missile attack on the al Shayrat air base in Syria by the U.S. Navy and believe that such actions, which use the excuse of a suspicious chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, whose timing and perpetrators are shrouded in a cloud of doubt, only strengthens terrorists who were already weak and adds to the complexity in Syria and the region,” ISNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying, according to Al Jazeera.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said in a statement, “President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang, and elsewhere.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Friday, “The destruction of Sharyat air base marks an important step to ensure that chemical and conventional attacks against the civilian population do not go unpunished.”
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed support, saying the strikes were "a means to prevent further deterioration of the situation,” additionally stating, "Japan supports the U.S. government's determination to prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons.
France and Germany: Supports
In a joint statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said it "fully supports" the strike and “President Assad alone bears responsibility for this development. His repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own population had to be sanctioned.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement, “Canada fully supports the United States’ limited and focused action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against innocent civilians, including many children. President Assad’s use of chemical weapons and the crimes the Syrian regime has committed against its own people cannot be ignored. These gruesome attacks cannot be permitted to continue with impunity."