Following the tragic chemical attack in Syria that left over 100 dead, many wondered how the United States would react. Since taking office, President Trump has sought to warm relations with Russia. The renewed commitment to improving relations has led the two countries to cooperate in Syria, something that was absent under Barack Obama’s leadership.
Of course, differences still remain between the two powers. Although both countries are committed to defeating ISIS, Russia’s government is a firm backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a position not popular in the United States. However, just a few days ago, U.S. officials expressed openness to the possibility of allowing Assad to stay in power. That openness had many questioning how the U.S. would respond to the news.
As it turns out, it didn’t take long for the U.S. to issue a stern response. Just one day after news of the attack broke, Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley condemned the attack in front of the international body. However, it was her stare down of the Russian ambassador that left the room silent.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday confronted Russia directly in an impassioned address to the United Nations following a reported chemical attack in Syria on Tuesday.“Men, women, the elderly, and children gasping for their very last breath,” she said. “And as first responders, doctors, and nurses rushed to help the victims, a second round of bombs rained down. They died in the same slow, horrendous manner as the civilians they were trying to save.”
She then stared down the Russian ambassador and said: “How many more children have to die before Russia cares?”Seconds of silence followed.
Haley’s strong rhetoric is sure to puzzle members of the media that insist the Trump administration is too close to Russia. In the first serious test of the new relationship, Trump’s team chose to directly challenge Russia publicly.
Whether or not the Russians are willing to negotiate on Assad is yet to be seen. However, in issuing the stern condemnation, the U.S. made its positions perfectly clear. The use of chemical weapons, especially against civilians, is an unacceptable act.
[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]