Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did not mince words concerning Russia and their alleged role in the Syrian gas attack this week. The horror and devastation the chemical weapon produced precipitated President Trump ordering a military strike on a Syrian air base. 59 Tomahawk missiles were launched destroying the airport from which the planes left for their chemical attack. It was a sensible and strategic response to Syria’s horrific murder of men, women, and children.
Tillerson made reference to the chemical weapons deal made between the U.S. and Russia in 2013. He said, “Clearly, Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on that commitment.” He then leveled this very serious charge: “Either Russia has been complicit, or Russia has been simply incompetent in its ability to deliver on its end of that agreement,” Tillerson concluded.
In September of 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry announced a deal with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. That deal should have eradicated Syria’s chemical weapons stock. Destruction or removal of all chemical weapons was to have been completed by the middle of 2014.
Tillerson was asked if the president’s response was an emotional reaction to the images from the Syrian chemical attack. Tillerson denied that saying, “I don’t think it was, I don’t view it as an emotional reaction at all. President Trump evaluated this first attack, these attacks that occurred on his watch, and reflected upon the prior responses, or lack of responses. He came to the conclusion that we could not, yet again, turn away. And turn a blind eye to what’s happened.”
Tillerson went on to share his thoughts about the response to Syria, “The use of these weapons as I indicated earlier, one of the concerns we have is the more we fail to respond to the use of these weapons, the more we begin to normalize their use. And when we begin to normalize their use, we are opening up wider spread use by others to use such weapons.” The Secretary of State continued, “And I don’t think we should in any way diminish the risk of the situation in Syria where there is a lot of chaos on the ground. There are elements on the ground in Syria. Elements that are plotting to reach our shore, and these type of weapons falling into their hands and being brought to our shore is a direct threat on the American people.”
How do you feel about the way our new Secretary of State has handled this first military crisis? We would like to see your comments.