Donald Trump and the United States Navy launched more than 50 Tomahawk missiles on Syrian targets Thursday night, and local Kansas Citians reacted with a range of emotions: fear, support, loathing.
A man who only wanted to be identified as Rex had just finished smoking a cigarette outside of a downtown Kansas City business when he got word of the air strikes.
Rex said he served in the United States Army from 1969-72 and fought in Vietnam. There, Rex said, he saw first-hand the devastating effect of chemical weapons.
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To witness on television the attack in Syria made Rex ill, he said.
“It made me sick to see that someone would do that to children and people in any aspect,” Rex said. “Flat out, you don’t do that to people.”
Citing the images, Rex said he agreed with the offensive.
“Reality is, you don’t gas people,” Rex said. “As far as the U.S., they need to (hold accountable) the people responsible for that. We’re doing what we have to do. I’m OK with that.”
But for some, the U.S.’s military response evoked fear.
John Gunter of Kansas City said he believed the strikes were a bad idea. He was torn about its effectiveness as a deterrent to other countries tempted to use chemical weapons.
“If we don’t do anything about it, it just encourages it, so I don’t know,” Gunter said. “I don’t think anything good will come from it.”
Still others on Twitter wrote the strike was justified.
Trump himself seemed to contradict past statements by issuing the strike.
In November, days before the election, Trump criticized Hillary Clinton, implying she was too hawkish and would start “World War III” by starting a shooting war with Syria.
And he scolded then-President Barack Obama in 2013, saying Congressional approval must be sought before attacking Syria. That tweet came after a similar chemical attack was waged on the Syrian people.
Then, Obama responded with diplomacy. With this strike, Trump may be hinting at how he’ll respond as president.