Since last Thursday evening (U.S. time) the news media has focused on the U.S. military strike against an airbase in Syria and the aftermath of that decisive action authorized by President Trump. Without question, this is a very serious (“Syrious”) matter that deserves careful consideration.
REASONS FOR THE ATTACK ON SYRIA
As you know, on April 6 at approximately 8:40 p.m. EDT (3:40 a.m. the next day in Syria) the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk missiles on the Shayrat Air Base in western Syria.
Pres. Trump ostensibly ordered the surprise strike in direct response to the chemical weapons attack in Idlib on April 4. That horrific attack apparently by the Assad regime killed around 80 people, about half of whom were women and children.
This month’s lethal gas attack in Syria, though, was on a far smaller scale than that of August 2013 when approximately 1,400 Syrians were killed by a similar attack.
Many politicians, mostly Republicans but some Democrats as well, were quite critical of President Obama for not taking action against the Assad regime following that 2013 attack. Of course, he did seek to get congressional approval for military action against Syria then, but Congress refused to act.
After his administration’s sputtering for its first 75 days, the current President may well have wanted to do something that would bolster his approval ratings and draw praise from the crowd who regularly referred to Obama as a feckless President.
Whether that was DJT’s intention or not, he seems to have reaped those benefits. Two of his Republican critics, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have praised his action. And he even garnered positive comments from Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ATTACK ON SYRIA
There are, however, numerous troublesome questions, the greatest of which is, Will this escalate into a broader, more serious war—even into World War III? Because of that ongoing possibility, I, for one, was relieved that Pres. Obama did not initiate military action against Syria in 2013.
Here are some other questions raised by the DJT’s April 6 action.
1) Was this just a symbolic strike? The very next day Syrian airplanes were able to use the Shayrat runways for takeoffs. If it was just symbolic, what real benefit did it have?
2) What was gained by using 59 missiles that would cost an estimated $60,000,000 to replace at a time the President’s budget calls for cuts in foreign aid and at a time tens of thousands are in danger of dying from starvation in Africa? Does the President need to see some pictures of those dying children?
3) What does it mean for the President to say that he was acting out of sympathy for children killed in Syria when he has proposed not accepting refugees from Syria into the U.S.?
4) What does it mean for the U.S. to be now on the same side as ISIS in Syria?
5) And this is a major question: Was it legal/constitutional for the President to order the strike?
CONSEQUENCES OF THE ATTACK ON SYRIA
At this point, less than four days after the April 6 attack, the world will just have to wait and see what the short- and long-term consequences of that attack will be. There are too many unknown variables to make any predictions at this time.
The main thing we don’t know is whether there will be further military action by the U.S. If not, perhaps the negative consequences will be negligible.
But if there are further unilateral strikes launched by the U.S., or retaliatory attacks by Syria—or especially by Russia—there will doubtlessly be many dark days ahead.