According to CNN, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Tuesday’s horrific gas attack in a rebel-controlled area of Syria was the “consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.” President Trump later doubled down on Spicer’s words by releasing the following statement, in which he blamed his predecessor for the attack:
Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world. These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 he would establish a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.
POTUS statement on Syria today — pic.twitter.com/N2zVE41xhN
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 4, 2017
In 2012, former President Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons would be his administration’s “red line” against the Assad regime, threatening to invade Syria if such attacks continued. Later that year, President Assad’s forces killed around 1,500 people in a chemical weapons attack, but then President Obama backtracked on his threat, seeking Congressional approval for military intervention in Syria and later brokering a deal with Russia that included an agreement by Assad to destroy his arsenal of chemical weapons.
President Trump appears to agree with many foreign policy experts who have claimed that Obama’s failure to follow through with his warning damaged the United States’ credibility and assertiveness worldwide. However, the president appears to have held a much different opinion at the time, having tweeted multiple times in 2013 urging former President Obama not to attack Syria.
Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack in Syria was one of the deadliest in years, killing dozens of people and sickening many more. A senior State Department official has implied that the attack was a war crime and called on Russia and Iran to restrain Assad from carrying out similar attacks in the future. The heinous incident occurred just days after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley insisted that the American “priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.”