Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

President Trump with senior military leadership in the White House on April 9, 2018. Trump said he would decide his response to the Syrian chemical attacks by April 11. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Since the alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, on April 7, President Donald Trump has reiterated that he will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons.

The international response to these latest attacks will likely influence how Syrian President Bashar al-Assad eliminates remaining rebel strongholds in Syria. The regime would likely take a non-military response as license to end the civil war through any means necessary. In this regard, Trump was correct when he told Cabinet members that the issue “is about humanity.”

The big picture: The U.S. reputation is also at stake. When the president says there will be a “big price to pay” for the chemical attack, he must be true to his word — or risk acquiring a reputation for strong rhetoric followed by inaction.

Although a more abstract concern than Syrian lives, the United States' reputation for keeping its word can deter other nations from breaking international law in the first place.

Like Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin has also taken U.S. inaction as license for acts of aggression, including interference in U.S. elections, disinformation campaigns in the Baltic states and alleged chemical weapon use on U.K. soil. Beyond Russia, the U.S.'s reputation might affect whether North Korea denuclearizes, Iran exacerbates sectarian tensions in Iraq or China continues to steal U.S. technology.

The bottom line: To be sure, a U.S. military response would risk unsettling both Assad and his backers, Russia and Iran. But the Trump administration has made clear it has no appetite for expanding military action in Syria, and previous U.S. strikes have not led to escalation. Once the U.S. issues a hard warning, it must maintain a reputation for resolve.

Andrea Taylor is a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
27 mins ago - Economy & Business

Biden's inflation danger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.