NIU Professor: Trump Drew The Line At Chemical Weapons

Apr 7, 2017

Thursday night, President Trump ordered dozens of Tomahawk missiles to target a Syrian base. It came in response to the reported use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians earlier this week by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

Professor Ches Thurber
Credit NIU / chesthurber.com

Ches Thurber is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Northern Illinois University. His research focuses on international security, conflict and governance. He says it appears the strikes were calculated in such a way as to reduce the risk of escalation.

"I interpret the strikes last night, to the degree that they were so limited in scale and scope, as a very specific effort to do something to send a signal to Assad that very specifically the use of chemical weapons crosses a line that President Trump will not tolerate."

Thurber says he doesn't believe the narrowly targeted action was intended to signal a change in policy to the extent that the U.S. would be pushing for Assad to step down or to leave.

The U.S. warned Russians ahead of time about the military action. Russia has since condemned the strikes.

"I think both sides have an interest in seeing this proceed in a way that resembles more or less the status quo of last week--with Assad fighting insurgents with primarily conventional weapons, and the U.S. more or less staying out of it and focusing its military efforts on the fight against ISIS," he said.