President Donald Trump's decision to launch airstrikes Thursday night against a Syrian air base was both appropriate and legal under international law, former NATO Commander James Stavridis said Friday.
"It sends a salutary and most-needed message to our allies," the retired admiral and current dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "It pushes back on their heels a bit the Russians and Iranians."
Turkey will be an "interesting ally" to watch for, continued Stavridis, but now the main question is what's next.
"You know the old saying, 'a single swallow does not a spring make?'" said Stavridis. "A single Tomahawk missile does not a spring make either. We've got a lot of work to do to sit back, look at the diplomatic options, look at the conversation with Russia, where does that go?"
But in terms of the right decision, "this was it," Stavridis said. "It's the appropriate use of force. It was well done militarily, a good day for the Navy, and I feel overall this will have at least a stopping effect on the flow of activity."
Next, the United States will need to see if it can negotiate with Russia in a way that puts constraints on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said Stavridis.
The airstrikes though, do not change the tactical situation on the ground, the retired admiral said.
"The air force of Assad still has great capability in order to [do] this kind of work," said Stavridis. "But what [the airstrike] does do, it sends a message that the United States does intend to be involved, is willing to use force, will act to try and put constraints. So I think there's a greater strategic impact than there is tactical impact."
The Trump administration, with the airstrike, showed it wants to send the message that if further chemical weapons are used, another military target will be hit, Stavridis agreed, and it was not a coincidence that the airstrikes occurred while Trump was meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida Thursday.
"This is another thing for the events in Asia, that the United States may be willing to use military force there, and that may have a clarifying effect in the conversations with China today," Stavridis said.
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