Bret Stephens: Gail, I know we need to discuss James Comey’s new book and President Trump’s Twitter neuralgia about it, but I wanted to get your thoughts about the attack in Syria in response to the gas attacks — the suspected gas attacks, I should say — near Damascus.Anne-Marie Slaughter, who served as a top adviser in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, said “It will not stop the war” and “is illegal under international law.” Yet she praised it because “it at least draws a line somewhere and says enough.” What do you think?
Gail Collins: There had to be a response, and it had to be one that wouldn’t put Syrian civilians in the line of fire. In a perfect world we’d have been in serious negotiations to try to end the violence before the strike occurred. In a perfect world there wouldn’t have been that presidential chest-thumping. In a perfect world we wouldn’t, for God’s sake, be calling it “Mission Accomplished.”So I guess I think that given the guy we’ve got in the White House, it was about the best we could have hoped for. How about you?
Bret: I’m surprised to find myself writing this, but I think the strike was a waste of perfectly good cruise missiles. We did nearly the exact same thing last year, and it did nothing to stop Bashar al-Assad from slaughtering his own people and using chemical weapons on them. If we really believe, as I do, that the use of chemical weapons cannot be tolerated, then we can’t allow the guy who used them to come away from the strike unscathed and — given that he’s immediately renewed his offensive in the area — emboldened.
The strike really was classic Trump: A show of force mainly for the sake of show, without any strategy behind it. Iran has entrenched itself in Syria alongside Russia, while Israel is quietly preparing for war on its northern front. The administration looks likely to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal next month, but little thought seems to have been given to what comes after. In all, just another reminder that the Trump disaster is global.”