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In Syria strikes, Trump opts for narrow, targeted punishment

President Trump speaking at lectern in White House
President Trump addresses the nation on April 13, 2018, as strikes were under way in Syria. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. coalition strikes in Syria were a direct but limited response to the violation of international norms opposing chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction. They were narrow in focus — against three targets associated with chemical weapons — and essentially punitive in nature. Whether they will achieve a deterrent effect will only be known with time.

Be smart: Just as interesting is what the strikes were not. They were not intended to unseat the Assad regime or directly protect the Syrian people. Although President Trump expressed his disappointment with Russian and Iranian support for Assad, the strikes took care not to engage them directly.

What's next: There is no reason to expect further military action absent additional use of chemical weapons by Assad. The president did not say how long U.S. forces might remain in Syria but reiterated his desire to bring home those troops. Ultimately, the strikes shed little new light on the future of U.S. policy toward Syria.

Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “A World in Disarray.”

Axios 7 hours ago
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North Korea says it is stopping nuclear and missile testing

Kim Jong-un sits at a desk.
Kim Jong-un. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has announced the country will stop conducting nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles starting April 21, and shut down a nuclear test site in the north side of the country, through a broadcast on the state news agency KCNA reports, and President Trump announced in a tweet, later adding quotes from the message.

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State Department report cuts references to Israeli "occupation"

A Palestinian protester at the Gaza-Israel border
A Palestinian demonstrator at a protest today near the Gaza-Israel border. Photo: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The State Department dropped almost all uses of the term "occupation" from its latest annual report on the human rights situation in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Between the lines: This is a significant change, because the public language used by the State Department usually communicates a policy. The U.N., the E.U., Russia, China and almost all the countries in the world see the Israeli control of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights since 1967 as "military occupation." But Israel doesn't, and now the U.S. might not see it that way either.