American response to the catastrophic humanitarian crisis Syria has been experiencing for the last seven years has been tepid at best. With Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most recent chemical attack on the Syrian people, inaction is no longer an option.

While President Trump would like to lay blame for the ongoing atrocities being committed by the Assad government at former President Barack Obama’s doorstep, it’s time he recognizes that the failings of his predecessor are no excuse for his own inability to act decisively and in a manner befitting the office he now holds.

The Obama administration bears significant responsibility for the current situation in Syria. The “red line,” the former president drew, but refrained from crossing, after Assad launched a chemical attack on his own people weakened both his presidency and his credibility. Obama’s miscalculation allowed the Syrian president to act with impunity, leading to the destruction of vast expanses of his country.

Nearly a half-million Syrians have been killed to date. Nearly two-million have been displaced; dwelling either in refugee camps or struggling to gain legal entry to countries that are increasingly losing tolerance and understanding for those in need.

Less aggressive action on the part of the United States also opened the door for Vladimir Putin, allowing him to insinuate himself into an already bad situation and gain a toe-hold in the Middle East; not to mention easy access to Syria’s Mediterranean ports. It has allowed Russian expansionism to flourish, posing a threat to the U.S. government’s sphere of influence among Arab nations long considered to be our friends.

Assad also grew emboldened with every inadequate response on the part of the American government. He has willingly accepted the help of Iran, becoming a proxy of a questionable theocratic regime; one only too willing to cast aside differences in religious ideology with Assad and his Alawite sect in exchange for strategic access to one of our most important allies, Israel.

The Iranians are not shy about their desire to destroy Israel; they are shamelessly direct. Together with Syria and Hezbollah – both of whom have their own agendas and aspirations – the world faces a deadly triumvirate capable of igniting a conflagration that could envelop the entire region.

The president has promised a strong response to Assad’s latest act of aggression. His actions may be short-term at best. If his intention is merely to send a half-baked message by way of a showy, but ineffective use of military force, it’s doubtful that the outcome will be any more positive than that of last year.

Should the president follow through with his plan to recall American forces from Syria at such a critical juncture the prospect of increased violence grows even more likely, as will Assad’s reckless disregard for human life.

Though President Trump believes the defeat of ISIS and the destruction of its dreams of a caliphate are an endgame in and of themselves, he is sadly mistaken. Military advisers as well as leaders in the field have clearly indicated that withdrawing troops now would be premature. A more decisive action is required and now is the time to employ it.

The president must first abandon his self-serving attitude toward governance and think of the greater good of the world community. Which begins with taking on Vladimir Putin. More than the Iranians, Putin is responsible for the Assad regime’s maintaining control of Syria and his ongoing support is a destabilizing factor in the region.

Putin must be made to understand that Assad’s control of the Syrian government will no longer be tolerated. President Trump must be prepared to bluntly and forcefully impress upon the Russians that it is Putin’s responsibility to peacefully convince Assad to vacate his office and leave the country. Should Putin ignore the world community and maintain his stubborn, unreasonable stance, further isolation and more potent economic sanctions against Russia and its oligarchs must be put into place.

If Mr. Putin cannot be convinced that ending Assad’s reign of terror is in everyone’s best interests, President Trump has other alternatives should he be willing to cast aside his bluster and take a bold stance. Isolating Syria by way of a naval blockade could be highly effective and relatively non-confrontational. Rendering all Syrian air facilities – military and commercial – totally unusable is another. Pre-emptive strikes on suspected weapons caches and military facilities could be launched.

Lastly, the prospect of direct military action against President Assad and his cronies must not be ruled out. The Syrian leadership has yet to endure the pain and suffering they’ve inflicted upon millions of their people. Eliminating access to the finer things in life so obviously enjoyed by these autocrats might give them pause. As would cutting off their means of command and control of Syrian forces. And limiting their mobility, freedom, and security to a tightly regulated area.

While these measures may sound draconian, they are far less so than those employed by Bashar al-Assad in his mission to quash any dissent amongst those Syrians setting out to establish a more democratic society. Assad is an increasingly dangerous man. With the backing of Iran and Putin as his corner man, Assad can be instrumental in redrawing the map of the entire Middle East. His Arab neighbors and the Israelis both know this. And they are growing increasingly uneasy with the alliances Assad has forged with like-minded rulers.

Regime change in Syria is inevitable. When and how it will take shape has yet to be determined. has yet to become part of the world community’s collective consciousness. The brazen actions of Iran and Russia at the behest of Bashar al-Assad will inevitably cause pain for the leadership and citizens of those nations.

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