On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s airstrike on Syria, which came in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that killed dozens of people last Tuesday.
Oliver said it was perfectly understandable for Trump to be moved to action after seeing pictures from Assad’s recent chemical gas attack but he warned that larger considerations needed to be thought through.
“But there are some serious questions that need to be answered regarding these airstrikes, which were in retaliation against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons to target his own people — which is undeniably horrific, but as many have noted, when Assad did the same thing four years ago, Trump’s reaction was significantly different,” Oliver noted.
After Assad’s 2013 chemical-weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, which claimed an estimated 1,300 lives, Trump tweeted about how the U.S. should stay out of Syria and how then-president Barack Obama must seek congressional approval in order to pursue military action against Assad (which Trump failed to do himself).
What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013
AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2013
Oliver went on to insist that he doesn’t believe Trump is “thinking strategically” about Syria.
“It has to come in the context of a larger strategy or it’s close to worthless,” Oliver said. “I don’t think he is thinking strategically because there is no indication that he’s taken the time to answer some fairly basic questions, like: If this was a warning shot, what were we warning against?”
Oliver continued: “Do we only want to stop Assad using chemical weapons, or are we going to push for regime change? If he does it again, are we prepared to go to war to stop him? If so, are we prepared for how significantly this may deteriorate our relationship with Russia? And how will that affect our fight against ISIS?”
The comedian went on to acknowledge both the complicated nature of a U.S. military response to the Syrian chemical weapon attack and the horrifying nature of the attack itself. He believes that the Trump administration’s response to this attack is possibly dangerous.
“This is complicated and I am not saying there are right answers here,” Oliver suggested.
“Right now we have a president who feeds off praise, and he just got a lot of it for bombing someone, and that should make everyone very, very worried,” Oliver warned.
Watch the video above.
— With a file from Andrew Russell