In August 2013, President Barack Obama planned an attack on the Assad government in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus. Obama changed his mind when it was found the sarin gas used didn't match that known to exist in the Syrian arsenal.
A serious chemical attack near Aleppo earlier that year had been carried out by rebels, and members of the al-Nusra front had been arrested in Turkey with sarin gas. In the few days between the Ghouta chemical attack and Obama's planned strike, it was determined it likely had been a “false flag,” i.e., an attack by one party in a conflict that's made to look as if it's been carried out by their enemy.
While not an Obama fan, I respect the thoughtful gathering of intelligence prior to launching any act of war. I'm thankful that Obama waited before again throwing gasoline on the flames of the Middle East, as he had done in Libya. I'm dismayed by the media's falling all over itself praising Donald Trump's knee-jerk, emotion-driven strike on Syria, without adequate proof that the recent chemical attack was in fact done by Assad.
Even if it's proved that Assad ordered this attack, an international response of severe sanctions and diplomacy would be a far more effective deterrent than missile strikes, with their inevitable civilian casualties. It's cause for great concern that someone who acts on impulse now has the power to order military strikes.
Joan F. Walsh