The Trump administration announced Monday that the U.S. would be imposing a new round of sanctions against Moscow in retaliation for Putin’s continued support of the reckless Assad regime in Syria.
In the wake of yet another sick and disturbing chemical weapons attack on the civilian population, the president has authorized airstrikes that have reportedly destroyed much of Syria’s chlorine and sarin-making facilities. But as long as Russia continues to aid and abet the dictator in his civil war, there remains the chance that Assad will once again defy international norms and use these banned weapons against the rebels. Trump’s latest move is in an effort to persuade President Putin to think twice about that course of action.
The sanctions, said UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, “will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use. And so I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it.”
Unfortunately, whether or not these military strikes and economic sanctions have an effect on Syria’s ability (or will) to use chemical weapons, they will almost certainly take a toll on President Trump’s oft-spoken desire to forge a better relationship with his counterpart in Moscow. Granted, Putin himself bears much of the blame in this area, but Trump has also been hindered by Republicans, Democrats, and a media frenzy that is desperate to connect him to the Russian hack of the DNC.
If you were to honestly ask Trump about his greatest disappointments up till now, we wouldn’t be surprised if he went to this one first. He is the dealmaker, but circumstances beyond his control are making it impossible to make what could have been the greatest deal of his presidency.
Speaking of the media…you’ll notice that despite having hit Russia with three powerful rounds of sanctions in a little under a month, there has been no change in the narrative, right? You don’t see the New York Times or MSNBC suddenly telling us that Trump is “tough on Russia,” do you? No, of course not. We’re still supposed to be laboring under the belief that Trump is compromised by the pee-pee tape or that he’s sold out American democracy to the Russian mafia or some nonsense, so there’s no room for this inconvenient fact.
Alas, the media doesn’t control Vladimir Putin or Bashar al-Assad, so the ball is in their court as far as the future goes. Hopefully, they’re beginning to realize that they’re not dealing with an Obama-esque pushover in Washington anymore. Nor is Trump willing to turn a blind eye to atrocity just for the sake of “making friends.” Perhaps when they recognize the strength and character of this administration, things will turn around.
Or, perhaps, they’ll need another reminder or two before we get to that point.