President Donald Trump overruled Defense Secretary James Mattis' advice to get Congressional approval to strike Syria, The New York Times reported.
Trump wanted a rapid response that would correlate well with his strong tweets about Syria earlier in the week, the Times reports.
Mattis was able to earn a compromise from the president by limiting the scope - three targets - of the airstrikes, the Times reports. Mattis worried that a too-aggressive response could run the risk of widening the dispute with Russia over Syria.
Where Mattis once had an ideological ally in former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Trump's new national security adviser John Bolton is a hawk who will not defer to the defense secretary, the Times reports, a new dynamic that took center stage Friday night at the White House.
Mattis has defended the military response as being in accord "under international law, under our nation's laws. But flak is coming from both sides of the aisle.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Trump "missed a real opportunity here to get it right."
And the left viewed the strikes as a show card.
"The strike was really just enough to cover the president politically, but not enough to spark a war with the Russians," Jon Soltz, chairman of the liberal veterans group VoteVets, told the Times.
"It was clear the military had tight constraints on the operation, and that everybody in the military seemed to know that except the president."
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