President Trump has sent Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad a message: Don't use chemical weapons on your own people again. Thursday's Tomahawk missile attack on the Shayrat air base in western Syria was intended to cripple Assad's ability to deliver chemical weapons, by destroying the aircraft that deliver them as well as the runways and infrastructure such as fuel storage areas and air defense equipment.
Whether the attack destroyed chemical weapons is unclear, but it is likely many of the weapons and weapons ingredients are stored in underground bunkers that are difficult to penetrate.
“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed, and failed very dramatically,” Trump stated. “As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen, and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.”
A few things to sort out:
- Trump's point about the destabilizing effect of Syria's six-year-old civil war is valid, and thus it is reasonable to suggest that our national security as well as European stability are at risk if the unrest and violence continue.
- In his brief televised statement late Thursday, the president cited the horrible suffering and deaths of innocent children and women following Tuesday's chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun as a good reason for the retaliatory attack. But as The Posse has stated numerous times, torture, atrocities and barbarism take place throughout the world every day (don't read about the depravities going on in places like Sudan, Somalia or Nigeria -- many of them perpetrated by Islamofascists -- if you have a weak stomach). The United States cannot and should not get involved in all of these conflicts, many of which involve bitter tribal enemies and two or more factions that are equally evil.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin and others claim that it was terrorists (i.e., al Qaeda and/or ISIS) that perpetrated Tuesday's bombing, but this seems unlikely since they do not have the capability of flying bombers and attacking from the air. Nor has anyone claimed that Syrian's air force is rife with rogue elements who would intentionally undertake such an attack in hopes it would backfire on Assad.
- Trump campaigned on maintaining a non-interventionist policy in Syria, and a hands-off approach in general when it comes to the Middle Eastern cauldron. That promise probably helped him secure a good deal of support, even from those who might not have agreed with him on other issues. He's already broken his promise.
- When the same neoconservatives who waved the pom-poms over our decision to go into Iraq are lauding Trump, and when the likes of Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are applauding, that's a very bad sign. It sounds like the Trump inner circle is gravitating toward the failed establishment neocons now that Stephen Bannon has been demoted.
- Let us recall that the Vietnam War was precipitated by a lie (the Gulf of Tonkin resolution). It is possible the lies about Syria have been so numerous that no one can really sort them out. But at least these days, with the Internet and sophisticated communications technology, we have a lot more information at our disposal to get to the truth.
- Let's face it: There are interests in the United States who see war as an opportunity to line their pockets and enrich their cronies. "Follow the money" definitely applies here.
- Some say Trump took this action to boost his sagging poll numbers, but I'm not buying it. Because, like shooting up heroin or smoking crack to get a temporary high, the long-term consequences will wreak havoc. U.S. involvement in Syria is bound to escalate, and if that happens, Trump will make the same mistakes George W. Bush did, and pressing needs stateside will take a back seat. Beware "mission creep."
- Finally, weakening or overthrowing Assad helps the likes of al Qaeda and ISIS. There is no way we can win in Syria, but we have a lot to lose.
It is incredible how fast the news cycle moves, and how one story can so thoroughly supplant another one. Yesterday at this time, the Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination and the so-called "nuclear option" were commanding our attention, but today that matter has been diminished. Who knows what we'll be talking about come Monday?