The 59 Tomahawks missiles which almost destroyed the Syrian Shayrat airbase was an unambiguous message to Syrian President Bashard Assad. By its action, the Trump administration gave the sign that the United States will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. The airstrips, ammunition areas, hangars and control tower were destroyed.
Deterrence and reality
President Donald J. Trump was quite clear when he spoke about the US strike. He said that the aim was deterrence. The US military concurs. Officials say that the Shayrat was hit to prevent any more chemical attacks to be launched from that location. Assad's chemical attack against his own citizens killed about 80 civilians and there are multiple images of people suffering from chemical burns, similar to what is observed when exposed to sarin nerve gas.
The reality is that the attacks did not change anything. Assad's iron grip over Syria continues to hold and he can execute more chemical attacks if he wants to.
The US bombing raises a number of difficult questions as to where the Syria-United States policy is headed. Trump himself has shown to be mercurial in this regard. The Trump administration has earlier said that it is important to defeat Islamic State and the issue of removing Assad from power in Syria is of minor importance. However, the recent missile attack seems that the US government under Trump is that the country is open to Assad being overthrown from his dictatorship. President Trump underscored the new policy by saying that the United States must deter and prevent any use of lethal chemical weapons which may go against its own national security interests.
These kind of declarations are accompanied by risks. Not a single US military official has said that the missile blows eliminated Syria's capability to launch chemical weapons. In case Assad is not kept in a leash, there could be multiple attacks such as innocent civilians dying in agony and the bodies kept in heaps. There would be no option for the US but to ratchet up militarily. That this was the case can be proved when Jeff Davis, a Navy Captain and spokesman for the Pentagon, said that the American military continue to assess the result of the missiles it fired towards the Syrian airbase. He continued to say that it is Assad's choice if he wants more US military action against his dictatorial regime.