As someone who once criticized President Barack Obama for offering public timelines on American military engagement overseas, US President Donald Trump may have backed himself into a corner following his own promise to respond, and respond harshly, to the deadly chemical attacks in Syria.

Last week he declared he wanted to withdraw US troops from Syria as soon as possible. But the suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria over the weekend may force him to reevaluate the US mission in that country.
Vowing on Monday to come to a decision “over the next 24 to 48 hours” on how to make Syria pay a “big price,” Trump’s White House now appears to be scrambling to match its policy to his words.
In the days since the alleged attack:
  • Trump has canceled his trip to South America where he was meant to attend the 8th Summit of the Americas. “The President will remain in the States to oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.”
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis has rearranged his schedule, canceling trips to California and Nevada and keeping his activities for the weekend confined to the East Coast.
  • Trump has spoken to both French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Theresa May. In two conversations in the space of two days, Macron and Trump continued “their coordination on responding to Syria’s atrocious use of chemical weapons on April 7,” the White House said.
  • One US official said the White House was most likely to coordinate with the French on a potential response since there are apparently concerns that May wouldn’t receive approval from the UK parliament for strikes, CNN reported.
  • The United Nations Security Council failed to pass a resolution that would have established an independent investigation into the suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria, because of a veto by Russia. It was Russia’s sixth veto related to chemical weapons in Syria

Blinken told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that only days after giving the US military another six months in Syria before it needed to pull troops out, Trump has forced his administration to change direction and focus more resources there, rather than less.
“This attack has now jumbled the entire deck, and they now have to run as fast as they can to put some kind of plan in place to make good on the president’s own rhetoric,” Blinken said.

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