Trump Bowed to Pentagon Restraint on Syria Strikes by Gordon Lubold and Dion Nissenbaum – Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump deferred to his Pentagon chief’s caution and tempered his preference for a more robust attack on Syria over allegations it used deadly gas on civilians, the first hints at the direction of his revamped national-security team.
The decision late last week, detailed by people familiar with the process, marked the first substantive test of the group now that John Bolton is serving as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser.
After days of tense White House meetings, the president and his advisers agreed on one of the most restrained of the military-strike options crafted by the Pentagon: a powerful missile attack aimed at three targets meant to hobble the Syrian regime’s ability to use chemical weapons and deter President Bashar al-Assad from using them again.
The outcome was a sign of the sizable influence Defense Secretary Jim Mattis still wields in the reorganized national-security team. Faced with a push from the president for a muscular response to the alleged chemical-weapons attack that killed at least 43 people, Mr. Mattis presented the White House with three military options, according to the people familiar with the decision-making.
The most conservative option would have hit a narrow set of targets related to Syria’s chemical-weapons capabilities…