Tillerson: Assad’s Fate Still Up to Syrian People

In interviews with the Sunday network shows, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that last week’s strike against Syria did not necessarily mean the United States would move forward with more military action against the Assad regime.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Tillerson said there has been “no change” to U.S. military plans in Syria, despite the strike that saw 59 cruise missiles blast one of Bashar al-Assad’s airbases.

Tillerson said, however, that countries all over the world should take note: if they violate international norms, they could face the same consequences.

The U.S., he said, still stood behind a “political process that we believe the Syrian people will lawfully be able to decide the fate of Assad.”

Asked what message Assad should take from the strikes, Tillerson said, “Your multiple violations of your agreements at the UN, your agreements under the chemical weapons charter back in 2013 – that those would not go without a response in the future.”

Tillerson also appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” where he reiterated that the Trump administration’s priority remained the same: To crush ISIS.

“Once the ISIS threat has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria,” he said.

And while Tillerson wouldn’t rule out ultimately using U.S. military might to remove Assad from power, he said it was important to learn from the mistakes made in similar situations.

“We’ve seen what that looks like, when you undertake a violent regime change in Libya, and the situation in Libya continues to be very chaotic,” he said. “We have to learn the lessons of the past and learn the lessons of what went wrong in Libya when you choose that pathway of regime change.”

Hopefully, Trump will take the prudent path, let these strikes send their own message, and hold off on any plans to pursue regime change in Syria. The situation as it is cannot be described as anything but horrible, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. is responsible for changing it. As we’ve seen so many times in the past, the fix is often worse than the problem.

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