Doves and hawks: how opinion was divided about airstrikes in Syria

How the US cabinet and beyond sought to influence Donald Trumps decision to order missile ten-strikes on Syrian airbases


Jared Kushner, senior consultant

Jared Kushner.

Trumps increasingly influential son-in-law is said to favour intervention in the Countries of the middle east and could be seen in the newly built situation room at Mar-a-Lago. Kushner visited Iraq last week and has taken on the job of setting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. On Friday some critics in the Trump base adopted the online hashtag # FireKushner.

HR McMaster, national security consultant

HR McMaster.

The army lieutenant-general, a strategist respected by Republican hawks, was pivotal in the decision to launch the cruise missile strike and lauded for a professional approach. He gave reporters a detailed account of how Trump was presented with options and arrived at the final decision. Having served in Iraq, he is cautious about being dragged into another quagmire.

Jim Mattis, defence secretary

Jim Mattis.

Nicknamed Mad Dog, though he has disavowed the label, the former Marine Corps general has criticised the Barack Obama administration for surrendering US leadership in “the worlds” and expressed strong support for Nato. He described the deadly chemical onslaught in northern Syria as a heinous act and would be treated as such.

Senator Ted Cruz told Fox News on Friday: Secretary Mattis is a legendary campaign fighter.

Rex Tillerson, secretary of state

Rex Tillerson

He has been mostly silent in his first two months in agency but suddenly emerged from his shell with harsh terms for Russia. Recalling the 2013 arrangements with Syria to hand over its compound stockpile, which Moscow was supposed to monitor, he said: Clearly, Russia has failed in its responsibility on that commitment. Either Russia has been complicit or has been incompetent in its ability to deliver.


Steve Bannon, chief strategist

Steve Bannon

Keeper of the flame for the isolationist America first creed, a backlash against the neocons invasion of Iraq and other US attempts to meddle in world affairs. A month ago the ex-head of Breitbart News was rumoured to be the second most powerful boy in “the worlds”. But last week Bannon, above, was removed from the National Security Council at McMaster’s behest.

Mike Cernovich, blogger

Mike Cernovich

A peddler of conspiracy hypothesis said to be influential with governments, he describes himself as new right. Last week Trump’s son, Donald Jr, tweeted: In a long gone time of unbiased journalism he’d win the Pulitzer. But Cernovich has promoted the hashtag #SyriaHoax and said: This is appalling actually. This is unbelievable. This is not what we voted for. This is definitely not what we voted for.

Ann Coulter, writer and broadcaster

Ann Coulter

The author of In Trump We Trust and tireless media champ of the chairman expressed bitter frustration to her 1.46 million Twitter adherents. She posted: Trump campaigned on not getting involved in the Middle East. Mentioned it ever helps our enemies & makes more refugees. Then she saw an illustration on TV.

Rand Paul, senator for Kentucky

Rand Paul

The libertarian senator played golf with Trump last weekend and appeared to be forming an unlikely confederation over allegations regarding surveillance by the Obama administration.

But he told CNN on Saturday: He actually, clearly ran on the Iraq war was a mistake, government change hasn’t operated, and that involving ourselves in civil wars throughout the world is really not the job of America’s foreign policy.

Some will say perhaps this is an exception to the rule, and I hope frankly that this is an exception, that he won’t believe that we can actually solve the Syria campaign militarily.

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