The Trump administration’s strike on an Assad airbase reflected a significant course change for the president’s attitude toward the Syrian civil war.
During the “red line” debate in 2013, he advocated against involvement in the war and attacking Assad – but this week’s deadly chemical weapons attack changed his view.
Here is a sampling of how Trump’s statements, and views, on Syria have evolved.
Trump, on Twitter, June 15, 2013:
“We should stay the hell out of Syria, the ‘rebels’ are just as bad as the current regime. WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS?ZERO”
On Twitter, Aug. 29, 2013:
“What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.”
On Twitter, Sept. 5, 2013:
“The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria,fix U.S.A.”
In written statement, April 4, 2017:
“Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world. These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.”
In Rose Garden, April 5:
“These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated. … That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me -- big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that. And I have that flexibility, and it’s very, very possible -- and I will tell you, it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. And if you look back over the last few weeks, there were other attacks using gas. You’re now talking about a whole different level.”
At Mar-a-Lago, April 6:
"Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror. … Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched."