On Thursday, April 6, President Donald Trump authorized a Tomahawk missile strike on the Shayrat Syrian Arab Army Air Base near the city of Homs in southwest Syria from a U.S. Navy Destroyer somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. This was in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by Syrian government military planes.
This marked the first time in the six-year-long civil war in Syria that the president of the United States decided to order a strike against the sovereign nation and government of Syria led by its president, Bashar al-Assad. Until this point, U.S. military operations have kept to a train, advise and equip mission for fighting ISIS in the peninsula. This strategy included special forces raids in which elite units of U.S. soldiers, embedded with their Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish counterparts, battle ISIS on the front lines in Syria.
There are many reasons for this unusual US-Kurdish partnership in the fight against ISIS. They include the complete and total absence of any moderate opposition force to Assad, except the Kurds, during the entire six-year history of this foreign civil war. The only opposition that truly exists in Syria are radical extremist jihadist forces. This became clear, despite U.S. taxpayers wasting billions of dollars attempting to create a moderate opposition and fighting force. The radicals of the civil war conquered or killed the moderates years ago, once and for all, in this foreign civil war made worse and prolonged by foreign intervention.
While at first glance this strike against the sovereign nation of Syria may seem like a positive step for humanity or “the good guys” in this war, whoever that is, it in fact leads the United States down a dangerous, costly and counterproductive path evidenced recently by unwinnable and unnecessary wars of regime change in Iraq and elsewhere. This unhinged emotional reaction by the president has opened a Pandora’s box for the United States, as we have absolutely nothing to gain from regime change, and it ought to be troubling.
It demonstrates the fickle emotional state of the president to say the least. Trump’s comments standing in the rose garden with King Abdullah of Jordan, where he said the latest images of dying babies on TV “crossed a lot of lines” for him, showed a leader way too affected by what they see on TV.
A shoot first, think later foreign policy married with new threats of an American invasion in Syria by a president who has displayed a dangerous distain for diplomacy to the point of failing to care enough to even fully staff his own State Department should displease anyone sensible.
Hundreds of thousands have died in the Syrian Civil War, including many more than the 26 children killed tragically by this last attack. Should we unilaterally invade a sovereign nation halfway across the world every time CNN shows us dead babies on repeat for an entire day and night?
This demonstrates, unlike President Barack Obama, the current president has no problem getting America needlessly bogged down in yet another military quagmire in the form of regime change to oust Assad—just as President George W. Bush ousted Saddam Hussein—in this foreign Islamic Syrian Civil War. Trump decided in less than one day, contradicting at least five years of his public statements regarding the use of military force against the Syrian government. To begin attacking a sovereign nation’s military for it killing a few dozen of its own citizens, even if it happened to occur by chemical agents as alleged, is not nor has ever been an intelligent foreign policy for this nation.
This kind of tit-for-tat game of escalation against Assad the administration is playing gains absolutely nothing but more problems for Americans. This new Trump tactic, this sort of ignorant, reactionary, hollow, blustering brinksmanship will only lead to more of the same awfully painful lessons history taught us in Iraq.
It’s time to remember the lessons from our past mistakes of regime change before we repeat them needlessly again by inserting the United States military into the middle of a foreign civil war that was never ever our fight to begin with.