TRUMP – 3, THE REST OF US – 0
Last week, after viewing images of Syrian residents dying from the aerial gassing by their own President, Bashar Al-Assad, President Trump ordered the bombing of a Syrian airfield. The President has since been both hailed and condemned for this action by political pundits and members of both political parties. In my opinion, Mr. Trump scored three times in his decision to order this response to Assad’s action.
First, he showed that he is a President who is not afraid to use military force when he feels it is necessary. This highlights his “power” after two months of numerous defeats and miscues in his new administration, specifically the judicial blocking of his two immigration bans, the failure of his party to agree on a plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), the threatened filibuster by Senate Democrats of the vote to approve his Supreme Court nominee, his decision to deal with health care first instead of new infrastructure which would have gained bi-partisan support in Congress, his failure to deliver on any of the actions that he promised to implement on “Day One” of his Presidency, and conflicting policy statements by members of his administration. This flexing of his power as Commander-in Chief completely overshadows all of his other failures as President.
Second, Mr. Trump’s action restores Russia as our “enemy,” in contrast to his numerous statements of admiration of President Putin’s rule. Mr. Putin’s harshly negative response to this bombing diverts attention from the possible collusion by the Trump campaign with the alleged Russian interference in our Presidential election, and diminishes its importance if proven to be true. This is significant since Rep. Devin Nunes has now recused himself from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russia’s involvement with the election, which will surely lead to the resumption of this investigation following Congress’s Easter recess.
Third, Mr. Trump’s action on the first day of China’s President Xi Jinping’s visit with him sends an unmistakable message to Xi that China must take some action to halt North Korea’s development of atomic weapons. The fact that Mr. Trump did not even wait two days for the United Nations to respond to Assad’s heinous action before taking unilateral military action against Syria underscores his previous statement that the US will halt North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons alone if China does not act to do so.
As I see it, US and Syrian citizens lose all the way around.
- It is clearly evident that President Trump acted emotionally and impulsively, in contrast to his previous numerous statements that the US should not become militarily involved in Syria.
- It is obvious that the Trump administration has no strategic plan for dealing with the crisis that continues in Syria year after year. Should Mr. Trump decide to topple Assad, the US will be left with an even more destabilized Middle East. As with Saddam Hussein, it would be easy to topple Assad. The important question is, “WHAT THEN?” a question that President Bush did not have an answer for when he invaded Iraq. Some fifteen years later the world is still paying the costly price for that lack of planning and basic understanding of the dynamics of politics and extremism in the Middle East.
- Mr. Trump’s action clearly breaks faith with those who voted for him based on his pledge to put America first and not become entangled in foreign affairs.
- Despite his assertion that Assad’s chemical attack against the Syrian people posed a national security threat to the US, it is hard to make that case in any sort of convincing way.
- Reportedly Syrian planes flew over the gassed city the very next day, from the same airport that we bombed. Our bombing did nothing to divert future chemical attacks against the Syrian people.
- In the event that Mr. Trump takes unilateral action against North Korea, our relations with China (North Korea’s strongest ally) will be severely damaged, threatening further escalation of military involvement in the region, and dealing a severe blow to our trade with China.
- Finally, Mr. Trump has shaped the news for the media and the public yet again, successfully diverting attention from his own ineptitude.
President Assad lobbed Mr. Trump a slow ball by gassing his own people. By my tally, the score at the end of the week is: Trump – 3, the rest of us – 0.