Let’s be absolutely clear here:
Yes, it is horrible that Bashar al-Assad probably used chemical weapons on his own people. It is tragic. The photos are horrifying. But heartbreaking pictures make bad foreign policy. Bashar is a thug and a tyrant. And he is in many ways just as bad or worse than his father Hafez al-Assad. (See Hama to get a flavor of how evil dear old dad was). But we are not the Global police. Despite what the Susan Rices of the world believe, the US does not have a responsibility to protect everyone from every evil.
The primary obligation of the United States is to protect its citizens, territory and interests. Our secondary obligation is to come to the aid of our allies in protecting their citizens, territories, and interests. That is what is meant by National Security.
What Bashar al-Assad does not rise to those levels. He poses no threat to the national security interests of the US. However tragic it is that tyrant ruling that land is using WMDs on his civilian population does justify involving the United States.
And no, Iraq in 1991 is not the same. There, the US made it clear to Saddam Hussein that if he used chemical weapons against US troops during combat, we reserved the right to nuke Baghdad. There was a national security interest in protect US soldiers. What has happened in Syria does not rise to that level.
Does this affect our regional allies? Not really. We have been giving billions of dollars of weapons to our so-called allies in the region. If Turkey and Saudi Arabia thought this was serious problem, they would have been handling it themselves, and not waiting for us.
All last night’s missile attack does is give our putative allies in the region an excuse to continue to do nothing. If everything goes great, they get share in the glory. If things go south (which is general what happens), they get to wash their hands of it and blame the West and its Crusader mentality for the evils that befall the Syrian people.
And nothing good will come of this. How many countries in the Middle East do we have to destabilize before it’s enough? And what in our history of interfering in other countries’s internal affairs suggests we’re going to get it right this time? Afghanistan is still a crap show. The same with Iraq. Libya is a nightmare with people willing to die in the Mediterranean rather than stay there. Has our drone strikes in Yemen brought peace and prosperity to that Country? So why will Syria be different?
What happens now? We just lobbed a bunch of missiles at one airbase. What is al-Assad doesn’t stop? Are we going to keep firing missiles? Contrary to the myth spread by Bill Clinton’s acolytes, the Kosovo Air War in 1999 didn’t stop Serbian aggression. NATO was preparing to send in ground forces and Sloban Milosevic realized Boris Yeltsin was not going to send in troops to defendant Serbia. That’s what ended the air war.
Syria is not Serbia. Russia is already in Syria. If we are going to oust al-Assad, are we prepared to fight Russia?
And if for some reason, Russia decided not to intervene, what’s the outcome? A Syrian government made up of moderate rebel groups? Where are these moderate groups? There are no George Washingtons or Abraham Lincolns among the rebel groups. During the Obama Administration, the CIA funded one group and the Pentagon another. Did they fight al-Assad?
Did they fight ISIS?
Well then, who did they fight?
And these rebels maybe moderate in that they ain’t ISIS. But that is not the same as thinking these groups have a Western-style outlook for the future of Syria. Recall Kayla Mueller had been captured by “Moderate Rebels” and then sold to ISIS for supplies. You think those groups interests are aligned with Americas?
The so-called moderates are primarily comprised of Sunni Muslim tribes. Those groups will turn on us. More importantly, they will turn on Shia minority. They will turn on the Alawite Minority. They will turn on the Coptic and Syrian Christian minorities. They will purge the land of anyone who is not them.
Let’s look at our glorious Libyan Campaign. Just like Gaddafi posed no threat to our National Security in 2011. The Libyan civil war was an internal matter and contained. Our decision to topple the regime, led to a power vacuum that resulted not only to the infestation of ISIS in the region, causing problems in the neighboring countries, but also to attacks on US national security including the infamous Benghazi debacle. Let me make this crystal clear:
The 2011 United States decision to intervene and remove Muammar Gaddafi was a direct and proximate cause for the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that kill a United States Ambassador.
Like Libya, nothing good can come our involvement.
In addition, further involvement will almost certainly create a situation where our attacks end up dislocating civilian populations. If we don’t want Syrian refugees coming into this country, then we sure as hell shouldn’t be in position where our actions cause refugees migration. There is something rather twisted about our willingness to wreck a country and then tell the people who we harmed that we don’t care what happens to them.
Again, if you don’t want refugees, don’t cause refugees.
And while we’re at, let’s stop and reflect that both Houses of Congress are in session this week. President Trump had every opportunity to request Congress pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force. (AUMF). Whether you approved of the Iraq war or no, George W. Bush went to Congress to get permission to launch a war. Obama did not. Trump criticized Obama. And yet, when the rubber met the road, Trump followed Obama and not Bush.
Just like Barack Obama did in Libya circa 2011, what Donald Trump did last night in launching military action against a nation that does not pose an imminent threat to US national security was Illegal and Unconstitutional.
Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.