Of course I’m going to talk about it. How could you not? That would be like not talking about the elephant in the room, right? So, let’s get to it …
On Thursday, President Trump stepped away from his normal demeanor, perhaps at the urging of his military strategists, and concluded two days’ worth of discussion concerning Syria’s unconscionable use of chemical weapons against their own citizens by sanctioning a limited airstrike in Syria.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Bashar al-Assad gave a nod to this military action. He’s tired of the war. He’s running out of money and running out of resources. He sees the war as an obstacle to a life of wealth that could be attributed to Syria’s vast oil reserves. Syria is, after all, the only significant oil-producing country in the Eastern Mediterranean region (which is Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories). And with that wealth, of course, comes power — perhaps even a seat at the world table. But, first, he must end the relentless, entrenched ground fighting that has paralyzed his country for six years. And it’s complicated. As of January this year, his government held 34% of Syria, ISIL held 33%, the Syrian Democratic Forces held 20% and 13% was held by rebel forces. Talking wasn’t getting it done. Brut force wasn’t getting it done, either. But chemical weapons? The perfect way to obliterate all and begin again. A shortcut, you might say.
But he didn’t count on America’s response — America’s very calculated response. We didn’t go after personnel — to the contrary, we gave Russia a big head’s up, enough so that they could extradite their personnel and aircraft. And you can bet that Russia gave al-Assad the head’s up, as well. We were counting on that. But what we did go after was their aircraft and reports are that 20 were destroyed. Syria does have as many as 450 more Russian-made jet fighters, so our success was minimal in the overall picture — but it spoke volumes in its wake.
Should we have stood up and sent a message? There are legitimate concerns over being sucked into a political war that has no level playing field. Understood. But when is it that you stand up for innocent victims — not just soldiers who have volunteered to be in harm’s way — but women and children, as small as babies, that are utterly defenseless in these circumstances? They are trapped in a life of daily bombing, sniper attacks, lack of adequate food and medical supplies, left behind in a war that they cannot gain from. How could we not respond?
We did what we had to do — for humanity — no apologies. This time, it is America that has drawn a line in the sand.