You could see it written on President Donald Trump’s face on Wednesday. After the images started rolling in, showing the devastating effects of Bashar al-Assad’s chemical attack on his own people, Trump’s demeanor changed to one voters hadn’t seen before.
This was a man who, unlike his predecessor, could not stand idly by and do nothing while innocent men, women, and children died under unimaginable circumstances. This was a man who would use the might of the U.S. military to keep madmen in check.
And on Thursday night, Trump lived up to that unspoken promise.
The U.S. nailed a Syrian airbase with nearly 60 cruise missiles, destroying most of Assad’s airstrike capabilities.
Whereas President Obama backed down in the face of Assad’s aggression, Trump stepped up to the plate.
That’s important for a number of reasons. It sends a message to Assad, first and foremost: Your days of gassing your people with impunity? Those are over.
It sends a message to Putin: We want to get along, but if you want to support a monster like this, it’s gonna be tough.
It sends a message to North Korea: The U.S. military is back in the game. You sure you want to try us?
And it sends a message to Trump’s critics at home and abroad: Our new president may be unconventional, but he is not afraid to defend American values using any means necessary.
When you count up all the differences between Trump and his predecessor – and they are many – this one may be the biggest of them all.