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OTHER VIEW
Other View: Trump's chance to step into the global leadership vacuum

Special to the Washington Post:

President Donald Trump’s decision to strike a Syrian airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack by the regime of Bashar al- Assad was right as a matter of morality, but it could also yield a host of practical benefits. The Assad regime may be deterred from again using deadly gas on civilians- a heinous war crime that, if tolerated, would make not just Syria but the world more savage.

Russia and Iran should have new cause to consider whether they will continue backing the blood-drenched Damascus dictator, or cut a deal to get rid of him. Other rogue regimes and their sponsors will have to recalculate how the United States might respond to their provocations. How convenient that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who props up North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un while conducting a slow campaign of aggression in the South China Sea, had a ringside seat in Mar-a-Lago as Trump boldly acted.

Perhaps most importantly, U.S. allies now have reason to hope that Trump could fill the leadership vacuum, in the Middle East and beyond, left by President Barack Obama’s decision not to enforce his own red line on Syria’s use of chemical weapons. It is little wonder that Trump’s action was cheered from Britain to Germany and from Israel to Japan—and by congressional Democrats as well as Republicans. Even the snarling response from Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin looked skin-deep, particularly as the Pentagon took care to warn Russia’s forces in Syria in advance.

What’s unknowable is whether Trump’s decision represents a change in his conception of U.S. foreign interests or a one-off response to wrenching televised pictures of suffocating children. In 2013, Mr. Trump strenuously opposed U.S. retaliatory action following a much more deadly sarin gas attack by the Assad regime; just Tuesday,he repeated in a speech that “I’m not, and I don’t want to be, the president of the world.” Yet on Thursday night Secretary of State Rex Tillersonspoke of taking action “on behalf of the international community” to preserve “international norms” about chemical weapons, and Trump said that “as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.” America’s allies can only hope that Trump will truly embrace that sentiment, rather than his long-standing isolationist instincts, as his presidency evolves.

For now, Trump must devise a Syria policy that responds to this week’s events. The administration now appears to understand that the civil war—and the fuel it provides for the Islamic State and other extremists—can never be ended while the Assad regime remains in power. The chemical attack signaled the regime’s intention to assault rebel-held Idlib province with the same scorched-earth tactics it has employed elsewhere in the country, which would trigger a massive new wave of refugees in addition to thousands more civilian deaths. The United States should make clear to Damascus that any further chemical attacks—as well as other blatant assaults on civilians—will be met with more military retaliation.

The administration should meanwhile make another effort to draw Russia and Syria’s neighbors into a negotiation on the country’s future, using the new leverage provided by Trump’s demonstrated willingness to use force. It should seek bipartisan congressional support, including the authorization of military force in the event of further atrocities—even if the White House has, as we believe, the constitutional leeway to act without it.

Trump has created an opportunity for the United States, and for his presidency, in Syria. Its ultimate value will depend on how well he follows up.


Mailbag
Letters of Thanks

Letters of Thanks

Thanks to Burley Library

The Idaho Humanities Council would like to thank the Burley Public Library for hosting the Smithsonian traveling exhibition Water/Ways from Jan. 28 – March 12.

Not only was this an excellent opportunity for Burley, but it was incredible to witness the great work of the library and staff. Project director Linda Barney did a wonderful job in creating the energy, experiences and complimentary educational programs for the community to enjoy. Thanks to Ms. Barney and staff, hundreds were able to witness the Smithsonian’s quality in their hometown and region.

These traveling exhibits are only available to state humanities councils and we are pleased to be able to bring them to Idaho communities. We congratulate the Burley Public Library on a job well done and greatly appreciate the effort to make the project an overwhelming success.

Jennifer Holley

Program Officer

Idaho Humanities Council

Thanks for supporting benefit

We at Big Hearts would like to thank the following donors and all the special people who helped put together the Alzheimer’s Benefit on March 25. Oasis Air, Barton’s Jewelry, Rob and Sandy Doig, Gooding Bed & Breakfast, Magic Valley Distributing, Margie Alexander, Zamzows, Michelle Shady, Les Schwab Pole Line Road, Planet Beach, Copy It, Renee Partin, Miracle & Banbury Hot Springs, Mary Lewis, Pizza Pie Cafe, Diane Welch, Twin Falls Golf Course, Canyon Springs Golf Course, Jerome Country Club, Karen Wetzstein Schulz, Angel Wings Massage, Con Paulos, Walmart, Wedding & Rental Shop, All Tech Automotive, Betty B’s Kitchen & Diane’s Delights, Fredricksons Candy, Bill’s Automotive, Red Canary Hair Salon, Outback Steakhouse, Jakers, Doc and Jeanette Sparks, Dain and Denise Bloxham. A huge thanks to the band Open Range Rick Maritt, Jimmy Crawford, Tad Shaw, special thanks to the drummer coming down from Meridian Ross Parton, Special guests Eli Doolin, Jeff Young. Kuddos to my kitchen staff Sandy Murphy, Amanda Kent and the folks that helped out from the Moose Lodge. A special thank you to our MC’s my daughter Tina Dennis and long time friend Kelly Musick. My son Mike and granddaughters Alexia, Makayla, and Emily for helping with baking, ticket sales and raffle sales. And to those in attendance, Thank you for your support and coming out for a fun evening. We love each of you and are blessed by having all of you in our lives.

Diane Partin Maritt

President, Big Heart Benefits


Editorial
Our View: Cheers and Jeers

Cheer

Twin Falls seemed especially blue this week, but it didn’t have anything to do with the gloomy weather.

Yes, the FFA is back in town for its annual leadership conference at the College of Southern Idaho, and those tell-tale blue jackets are everywhere. More than 1,400 students and their advisors have descended on town to compete for a chance to represent Idaho in the FFA’s national convention later this year in Indianapolis.

Besides competing, the students are touring 17 Magic Valley businesses, learning all there is to know about modern agribusiness. But FFA, which has ditched its more formal Future Farmers of America moniker, is about much more than farming these days. Students compete in categories including public speaking and others aimed at preparing students for careers both inside and outside of the farming industry.

Congrats to all the teens competing this week, and for the winners, we’re sure you’ll make Idaho proud in Indiana.

Jeer

Jeers to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, who late on Thursday vetoed four bills that passed the Legislature. One had to deal with creating a supervisor to coordinate the state’s response to invasive species; another would have funded the position.

Otter’s third veto was a cosmetology bill sponsored by Twin Falls Republican Lance Clow that would have allowed cosmetologists to work for theatrical events and weddings without having to obtain a license, among other changes. But, Otter said, lawmakers hijacked a compromise from the industry that led to the initial bill and went far beyond what the original idea intended. He urged lawmakers to come back next year with a cleaner bill.

Fine.

It’s the fourth veto that has us irked. Otter scuttled a bill passed with broad bipartisan support that would have reformed civil-asset forfeiture – laws that allow the police to seize your money and property if they suspect you’re involved in drug crimes, even if you never face charges.

Otter called civil-asset forfeiture reform “a classic case of a solution in search of a problem,” and he wrote in his veto letter that there have been no cases of Idaho law enforcement suspected of bending these laws.

Apparently, the governor missed Times-News reporter Alex Riggins’ investigative report into civil-asset forfeiture laws in Idaho we published last summer. Riggins found one case where police took $9,000 in cash from a couple caught with a small amount of pot. Neither was ever charged, nor suspected of being involved in major drug trafficking.

This bill wasn’t a solution in search of a problem. It was a bill that would have restored liberties to Idahoans and prevented potential police abuses, and it had the support of law enforcement after lawmakers worked hard with police to craft bill wouldn’t totally strip away a valuable tool in targeting drug rings.

Otter should have kept his veto pen in his pocket on this bill.

Cheer

If you’re not already including the miracle 1-pound baby born in Twin Falls in your prayers, you should be.

Rainna Crabb is just three weeks old and growing, but she’s still only slightly heavier than an NFL football. Doctors are working around the clock to save her life after she was born only 24 weeks into her mother’s pregnancy.

Even though one of her kidneys stopped working after doctors gave her medication to close a hole in her heart, her family say the baby is doing OK.

But it could be months before Rainna can come home from the hospital in Boise, where she was rushed after the delivery at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center. All that time in the hospital is putting tremendous financial pressure on her parents, Hansen’s Samantha and Steven Crabb.

Well-wishers can make donations at Wells Fargo locations to an account under Rainna Crabb’s name. And of course, keep the baby in your prayers.