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Wreckage of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound north of Damascus, a target of the missile strikes. Photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

In response to the recent chlorine bomb attacks in Douma, President Trump ordered missile strikes on three facilities used by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime to produce and store chemical weapons. Rather than destroy Syria’s extensive chemical weapons infrastructure, Trump sought to demonstrate international resolve and deter future use.

Yes, but: These were limited and surgical strikes at the insistence of cautious Pentagon planners, including Defense Secretary James Mattis. Strikes did not target Assad’s broader war-making capability or seek to advance the goal of regime change. They also avoided Russian and Iranian casualties, which could have escalated the conflict.

What's next: The U.S. and its allies will hit more targets with greater firepower if Assad uses chemical weapons again, but it is still unclear whether the strikes were an impulsive response or part of a larger strategy to end Syria’s civil war.

The bottom line: The Trump administration should renew its diplomacy, backed by a credible threat of force. Secretary of State designate Mike Pompeo can engage Russia, Iran and Turkey in U.S.–led mediation through a “contact group” of stakeholders that complements UN efforts. Syria's grinding civil war will continue without greater U.S. engagement.

David L. Phillips is director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University and a former senior adviser to both the UN Secretariat and the U.S. Department of State.

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Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.