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Comment on Allied Strike on SyriaRalph E. Stone, Salem-News.com
Was a military response in U.S. interests?
(SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.) - On April 12, 2018, the U.S., Britain, and France launched a strike against Syrian research, storage, and military targets to punish Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for the suspected use of his air power to drop chemical weapons in an attack in the Damascus suburb of Guouta, where between 40 and 70 people were reported to have been killed by banned chlorine and sarin gases.
The key word here is “suspected.” Assad and Russia have vigorously denied the allegations.
Meanwhile, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the world's chemical weapons watchdog, landed in Syria on April 14 to begin a fact finding investigation to determine whether Syria did indeed use banned chemical munitions.
There is no doubt that Syrian Assad, like his father before him, is a brutal dictator, who caused a civil war which has shattered his nation.
But, why would Assad use banned chemical weapons of no tactical significance to provoke international outrage and military intervention against him when his Syrian army is winning the battle against the opposition forces and has surrounded the last town held by them?
Could it be to distract the U.S. media and the public away from his sex scandals, James Comey’s new book, or the Russia investigation?
The Trump administration should have stepped back until there was definitive proof of Syria’s use of chemical weapons and then, even if true, rethink whether a military response was even in U.S. interests.
The possible use of chemical weapons by Syria may be morally wrong, but from a practical point of view, the possible use of chemical weapons by Assad presents no immediate danger to U.S. interests.
Trump taking the moral high ground is a bit laughable, isn't it?
The allied attack on Syria dramatically illustrates Trump’s schizophrenic approach to the Syrian conflict. Remember, in 2013, before he was president, Donald Trump tweeted:
And on October 2016, in response to a question during a debate with Hillary Clinton about his plan for Syria, he asked, "How stupid is our country?" lamenting the lack of "sneak attacks.”
On April 3, after becoming president, Trump instructed military leaders to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria as soon as possible, and told them he wanted Arab allies to take over and pay for stabilizing and reconstructing areas liberated from the Islamic State.
Then a day later, Trump backtracked on his insistence that the troop exit was imminent, now that the militants were “close to 100 percent” defeated. Then after signaling an attack was imminent, the allied forces launched a not-so-sneaky attack against Syria.
Now the Trump administration has signaled that it will impose new sanctions on Russia for supporting the Syrian regime for allegedly attacking against its own people with chemical weapons.
As Jim Arkedis, a former Department of Defense counterterrorism analyst, put it, "This unstrategic inconsistency is not a doctrine.”
We should expect a more coherent Syrian foreign policy from our president.
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