National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday that while President Trump was hoping to find a diplomatic solution to the civil war in Syria, he was open to taking more military action against the Assad regime if necessary.
McMaster told the hosts on “Fox News Sunday” that it was incumbent on the U.S. to do everything in its power to stop the slaughter of innocent Syrians.
“We need to do everything we can,” he said. “We need some kind of political solution to that very complex problem.”
McMaster’s interview came days after President Trump authorized a strategic missile strike against a Syrian airbase, retribution for a chemical weapons attack the U.S. blames on the Assad regime. The strikes, which were carried out with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on Thursday night, were met with high praise from U.S. allies in the region and around the world.
But in the aftermath of the retaliatory strike, the old questions have begun to surface. Do we go ahead with a policy of regime change in Syria, backed with the might of the U.S. military? Or do we return to the wait-and-see approach that Trump appeared to favor as early as last week? McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and others in the administration have said further action will be determined by Assad’s response to the strike.
As far as regime change foes, McMaster said it was not necessarily the United States’ responsibility to facilitate Assad’s downfall.
“I’m not saying we are the ones to effect that change,” he said. He criticized Russia and Iran for thinking “it’s okay to align with a murderous regime.”
But McMaster, like others in the Trump administration, is playing his cards close to the vest. He said that whatever Trump decides from this point forward, it wouldn’t necessarily be broadcast across the airwaves ahead of time.
“This is the first time that the U.S. has acted to the atrocities of the Assad regime,” he said. “The president will make whatever decision he thinks that is best for the American people.”