If Trump just sees the strike on Assad as just a "one-off," I asked how different is it than a proposed "unbelievably small" strike back in 2013 under Obama.
So far, the difference is the embarrassing dithering of 2013.
As I noted in 2013, the best retaliation is regime change. That may yet become our long-term goal.
Because even though Obama's defenders say that the 2013 deal means Assad has far fewer chemical weapons than we'd have to deal with without a deal, that is only an advantage if Assad doesn't win the civil war and then rebuild that arsenal:
This deal isn't necessarily a fatal blow to our national interests and reputation if the end result is fewer WMD out there by the time Assad's regime falls despite the best efforts of Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah to save Assad.
But this requires our government to keep their eye on the ball and remember that chemical warheads don't kill people--bloodthirsty dictators and their minions who order chemical warhead use kill people.
Even if the chemical deal was at one time 100% effective as that dunce (and former Obama State Department spokeswoman) Marie Harf speculated on TV, the flaw in that theory is that a 100% effective deal that erodes over time just means that in 2013 Assad got the West to pay for a clean up of old chemical weapons and facilities, clearing the deck for new chemical weapons facilities and weapons after he wins the civil war.
And the Obama administration took the same flawed reasoning into the nuclear deal with Iran that leaves a hideous regime in Iran free to build nukes in the future even if they abide by the flawed deal (that practically invites Iran to cheat and escape retribution) for the duration of the deal.
But I digress (as I can).
Will the Trump administration eventually (after the defeat of ISIL) focus on the removal of Assad and his Baathist Party as the real safeguard against WMD use by a regime still hemmed in and under siege in the western part of Syria, after losing close to a couple hundred thousand dead troops (if memory serves me) just to reach this point of stalemate?
That would be a really funny thing, actually. Assad buying time to win the civil war by (maybe) giving up chemical weapons in the 2013 deal required an Obama administration (or something like it) to complete the process of winning the civil war and then rearming with newer and better chemical weapons. Trump may actually be the only way to make the Obama chemical weapons deal a good thing by taking advantage of Assad's relatively small chemical arsenal to defeat Assad.
Remember, the modern West has a taboo about chemical weapons use based on the horror of World War I. The Arab world doesn't share that revulsion as Assad in this civil war, as Saddam in the Iran-Iraq War and anti-Kurd campaign in the 1980s, as Khadaffi in Chad in the 1980s, and as the Egyptian use in Yemen in the 1960s show.
UPDATE: Even if Assad is winning right now, I recall that back near the end of 2013 Assad told his supporters that, in the aftermath of the chemical deal, he needed a year to win the war. He missed that deadline.
Even winning at this rate gives incentive to pile on your enemy if you think you can break them fast rather than grind them down (and also your already worn out supporters).
UPDATE: Eric reminds me that Saddam used chemical weapons in March 1991 to help put down the Shia revolt after the Persian Gulf War (search for March 1991) in the Duelfer report. I forgot all about that one.
UPDATE: If Assad has basically won the civil war, making chemical weapons use counter-productive, what is up with this?
Backed by Russian air power and allied militiamen on the ground, Syrian troops have recaptured entire cities from rebels and Islamic State group extremists in the past year, including the key cities of Aleppo, Homs and Palmyra.
Yet for the past three years, President Bashar Assad's forces have been unable to free opposition-held neighborhoods of the capital Damascus, where rebel fighters have built a labyrinth of secret underground tunnels, beyond the reach of airstrikes and connected to opposition-held suburbs farther out.
Assad has not won the civil war. He wants you to believe that so you will stop supporting rebellion and back talks to enable him to actually win. Don't fall for that ploy.