Nikki Haley spoke at the UN Security Council today and defended the missile strike on the Assad regime. Haley blamed Syria, Iran, and Russia for the chemical weapon attack which killed 72 people earlier this week. She also warned the U.S. was prepared to go beyond last night’s strike if necessary.
“For six years the world has watched as the Syrian government and its leader Bashar al-Assad have terrorized its own people,” Haley said. After a brief recitation of Assad’s history she then came to current events. “On Tuesday the Assad regime launched yet another chemical attack on civilians, murdering innocent men, women, and children in the most gruesome way,” she said. Haley continued, “Assad did this because the thought he could get away with it. He thought he could get away with it because he knew Russia would have his back.”
“That changed last night,” Haley said. She added, “The United States will not stand by when chemical weapons are used.” And then Haley made a comment which was an implied rebuke to the previous administration saying Assad’s, “crimes against humanity could no longer be met with empty words.”
Haley then moved on to other nations the U.S. holds responsible for the chemical attack. “While the Syrian regime is responsible for the chemical weapons attack, it is not the only guilty party,” she said. She continued, “The Iranian government bears a heavy responsibility. It has propped up and shielded Syria’s brutal dictator for years.”
Next, Haley placed blame on the Russian government saying, “Every time Assad has crossed the line of human decency, Russia has stood beside him.” Haley then examined Russia’s failure in Syria as the Russian representative sat perusing his phone and mostly avoiding eye contact.
“Russia is supposed to be a guarantor of the removal of chemical weapons from Syria. Think about that,” Haley said. She continued, “As innocent Syrians continue to be murdered in chemical attacks, let’s think about the possible reasons for Russia’s failure.
“It could be that Russia is knowingly allowing chemical weapons to remain in Syria. It could be that Russia has been incompetent in its efforts to remove the chemical weapons. Or it could be that the Assad regime is playing the Russians for fools, telling them that there are no chemical weapons, all the while stockpiling them on their bases.”
“The world is waiting for the Russian government to act responsibly in Syria,” Haley said. After outlining what the U.S. expected from Syria and its allies in the future, Haley gave a final warning: “The United States took a very measured step last night. We are prepared to do more but we hope that will not be necessary.”
It’s worth noting that just yesterday Haley was booed by attendees at the Women in the World summit for saying President Trump would stand up to Russia with regard to Syria. It’s hard to imagine a more forceful response than Haley’s trilemma on Russia’s “failure,” i.e. they are either complicit, incompetent or foolish. The assumption that President Trump would be a pushover for Putin doesn’t seem to be working out as expected.