Just 48 hours after saying the Assad regime's alleged chemical weapons attack last week "crossed many, many lines," President Trump approved the immediate launch of 59 cruise missiles on a Syrian airfield.
Yet in the days since his decisive action, Trump has been conspicuously quieton Syria while his administration has struggled to articulate if Thursday's missile drop was a symbolic "one-off" or part of a broader U.S. strategy targeting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Foreign policy and military experts say that even limited strikes could risk pulling the U.S. further into a conflict with no clear exit strategy, and the establishment of a "red line" could mean greater chance of military escalation.
"It's a one-off only if Assad complies," said Barak Mendelsohn, a professor specializing in international security at Haverford College. "It's clear that if Syria does something like this again, the U.S. will not be able to hold off and say, 'That was then; we're not going to respond anymore.'"
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