In effect, Putin drew his own red line, right over Obama’s. Putin gave Assad a free pass to use any means to fight his people, anything save for chemical weapons. Moscow is a stickler for the letter of international law, and in 2013, it quickly organized a unanimous vote in the UN Security Council and a broad international coalition to oversee the destruction of Assad’s chemical arsenal at sea. But despite the pointedly international nature of the operation, Moscow had essentially acted as Assad’s guarantor, with Putin having to ensure that Assad would no longer use chemical weapons.
Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic
If any of this was true, I don’t know why they couldn’t wait and take a look at it. In 2013, there were similar stories that didn’t go anywhere, because with a little bit of a pause, there was a resistance to it built in our Congress and in the American people. They thought that it was a fraud and nothing like that was happening, and right now, I just can’t think of how it could conceivably be what they claim, because it’s helping ISIS, because it’s helping Al-Qaeda....
From my point of view, there was no need to rush. There was no threat to national security. They have to give a reason to do these things.
I don’t believe that our people or the American government should be the policemen of the world, it makes no sense, it causes us more trouble and more grief, it causes us more financial problems, and it’s hardly a way that we could defend our constitutional liberty.
Ron Paul, talking to Russia Today
It is also true that few presidents are oblivious to the political upsides of looking tough by blowing up some empty buildings—particularly if doing so undercuts the story that your presidential campaign was in cahoots with the Kremlin. Still, it was a firm response to a loathsome crime, and Trump’s visible distress betrayed a decent outrage that many of his opponents would not have credited him with.
Eliot Cohen, a neo-con, in The Atlantic