Last night the United States launched dozens of missiles into Syria, striking numerous military targets and causing at least six casualties.
The 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were a response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's deadly gassing of Syrian civilians earlier in the week.
In a short address given at his Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump said he had "ordered a targeted military strike on the air field in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched."
The president went on to indicate that the military action was "vital" to the security of the U.S. "to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons."
Russia, which has been a Syrian ally, received warning of the impending attack so they could move any military personnel that might be in danger.
However Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin indicated this move might end up being problematic for U.S.-Russia relations. CNN reports Putin said the strikes were "an act of aggression against a sovereign state."
The Russian government reportedly also indicated they believed Syria had destroyed its chemical weapons. They declared America's use of Assad's attacks on his people as justification was "a far-fetched pretext" for the missile strikes.
The United Kingdom and European Union both expressed support for the strikes, reports the BBC, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement which said that Syria "bears the full responsibility for this development," as "use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, cannot go unanswered, and those responsible must be held accountable."
Predictably, social media reactions were all over the place. From panicked declarations that World War III had begun:
To statements indicating things weren't really that bad after all.
The attacks were a turnaround for the U.S. administration, as President Trump had expressed opposition to any kind of Syrian intervention during his campaign.
As CNN reports, gruesome videos of the aftermath of the chemical attacks had a significant influence on the president, who said that the death of "innocent children — innocent babies...little babies with a chemical gas" had crossed "a red line, many, many lines."
Republicans who have opposed the president in the past came out in favor of the move. Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain issued a statement that said America "sent an important message the United States will no longer stand idly by as Assad, aided and abetted by Putin's Russia, slaughters innocent Syrians with chemical weapons and barrel bombs."
The strikes occurred on the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I—though a mild coincidence, it's worth noting that the long and horrific stalemate of the Great War ended just two years later after America stepped in.
It may be that the U.S. is nothing if not consistent in its intention to be the deciding factor in ending grueling and terrible conflicts around the world.