Getting Assad’s attention, Reagan style

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, April 18, 2018

by Michael Reagan

To strike Syria, or not to strike Syria.

As of Thursday evening, Donald Trump, our tweeter in chief, is keeping the world, the Russians and Syria’s dictator-in-chief Bashar al-Assad guessing.

On Wednesday, President Trump said U.S. missiles “will be coming” to visit Syria in retaliation for its government’s alleged use of chemical weapons on the Syrian town of Douma on April 7.

On Thursday, Trump hedged a little, tweeting that he “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

Later he tweeted, “We’ll see what happens.”

Trump being Trump, we won’t know what will happen until he makes it happen.

Meanwhile, everyone in the media and politics has a different opinion about what we and our allies should or should not do militarily to punish Assad for his latest crime against humanity.

In some conservative and Republican circles, I’ve been hearing that old familiar question – “What would Ronald Reagan do?”

I like to turn that around and ask, “What did Ronald Reagan do? What did he do 32 years ago this week?”

On April 14, 1986 my father sent a powerful message to Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi, the leading international thug of the day, that made Qaddafi behave for the next two decades.

For years Qaddafi had been sponsoring terrorism against American troops and citizens around the world and also financing Muslim rebels in the Philippines, the IRA, Palestinian guerrillas and even the Black Panthers in the USA.

Increasingly tough economic sanctions on Libya and the freezing of its overseas assets didn’t impress Qaddafi and on April 4, 1986 he ordered his terrorists to bomb a dance hall in West Berlin known to be frequented by American soldiers.

Nine days later my father got Qaddafi’s full attention.

At 2 a.m. Libyan time, about 100 U.S. Air Force and Navy warplanes hit five military targets and “terrorism centers” in Tripoli and Benghazi.

My father’s message to Qaddafi lasted less than an hour. But one of the targets U.S. planes obliterated — the most important one — was one of Qaddafi’s homes.

Qaddafi and family were elsewhere, but he got the message my father wanted him to get — “We know where you and your family live and any time we want to take you out, we can.”

If I could give advice to President Trump about what to do in Syria, it would be this:

If you think we need to do something in Syria to show Bashar al-Assad we do not approve of his use of chemical weapons against civilians, you have to make him feel it.

Taking out a Syrian airbase or blowing up some Russian planes on the ground is nothing, Mr. President.

You have to make Assad know we know where he lives and that any time we want we can take him out with a missile strike targeted at his morning grapefruit bowl.

We have eyes on the ground in Syria. We know which palace or home Bashar al-Assad and his family are staying in at any given time.

Blowing one of them up with a cruise missile at 2 a.m. will be a wake-up call Vladimir Putin’s favorite dictator won’t be able to ignore.

MICHAEL REAGAN is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press). He is the founder of the email service and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at and Send comments to Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.