It's now been about 72 hours since we learned of the United State's attack on the Syrian airfield from which the latest nerve gas attack on civilians was launched. Members of the be the change Turlock group may not agree with my initial reaction which was one of thinking that at last something is being done to deter Bashar al-Assad from committing further atrocities against his populace. Some aspect of my initial reaction was undoubtedly nurtured by my sense of patriotism to our country and to my strongly held belief that it is immoral for nations to stand silently by when preventable human rights violations are occurring.
However, with the luxury of 3 days to think and reflect, I have come to the following conclusions.
1) Trump intended this attack to be symbolic, and only symbolic. The air base is already operational. The intended audience was not Syria or Russia, but the people of the United States. This was about distraction, not real policy or real prevention.
2) The actions actually place us more at risk. By being so transparently phony, there is nothing to stop the Syrians and Russians from continuing their atrocities. They may or may not use poison gas, but you are just as dead if a barrel bomb falls on your house as you are if a nerve gas canister does. So the next time Bashar al-Assad chooses to assault his citizens, will we have to escalate? Will we become embroiled in an unwinnable war, once again?
3) Trump is a hypocrite of the worst sort. When Obama faced the same painful decision and defered to the lack of congressional will for intervention in 2013, Trump tweeted emphatically for non-intervention.
4) The Iranians and Russians are now more likely to double down in Syria, making Bashar al-Assad's regime less likely to change and cementing an alliance that is not good for our interests.
5) I am a big believer in the idea that if something is worth fighting for then it is worth going all in. Half measures do not work, as proven in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Will we never learn? If, and that is a big if, it is worth going in, then the Syrian air force should no longer exist. Russian anti-aircraft defenses should be shattered.
6) And therein lies the problem. While a nerve gas attack is an atrocity, it is not worth starting a nuclear war over. In this case, history will record that the country that is most responsible, besides the Syrian government, is Russia. It has the power to stop the atrocities and does not. All in pursuit of their several centuries long pursuit of a warm water port. These deaths are on Putin, not that he cares. They are not on the nation whose intervention could lead to a broader conflagration.
7) Perhaps of the most importance, our constitution is important, and Trump did not uphold the clear language in the constitution when he attacked without congressional approval. This is why Obama, much to his chagrin, did not attack in 2013. Congressional Republicans should reflect on their harsh words for Obama given that he chose upholding the constitution over his own policy objectives. The test of a true leader is not how he or she uses his or her power, but when he or she chooses not to.
For these reasons, I now view the 59 cruise missile attack as unwise, ineffective and unconstitutional. If Trump gave a damn for the Syrian people, he would allow the refugees from that tragically war torn nation to flow into our welcoming arms. (S)