By Nancy Thorner & Ed Ingold -
Donald J. Trump had a blunt warning about Syria for President Barack Obama in June of 2013:
“We should stay the hell out of Syria,” he wrote on Twitter in June 2013, after President Barack Obama directed American forces to increase support to Syrian rebels in the wake of a deadly chemical weapons attack by that country’s government.
A few days later Trump wrote on Twitter: "We should stay the hell out of Syria, the "rebels" are just as bad as the current regime. WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS? ZERO?".
Now President Trump has a decision to make about a retaliatory move against Syria, despite Trump’s repeated condemnations of Obama for his Syria involvement. What makes Trump’s consideration even more surprising is that recently Trump indicated he would be pulling troops out of Syria.
On Thursday, April 11th Trump tweeted: Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!
A day later Trump appeared to soften his tone on Twitter: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!"
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders reinforced Trump's tweet indicating that President Trump still has not decided on a response to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons. For after having met with his National Security team to discuss the situation in Syria, no final decision has been made.
According to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the U.S. is still waiting to see the evidence of a chemical attack in Douma, the final rebel-held Damascus suburb, where about 40 people died on April 7.
Trump bombed Syria's government once before in response to an alleged chemical attack. But Mattis said in February that “we do not have evidence” that Syria's government actually used Sarin gas in April 2017 — the stated reason Trump bombed an airbase with 59 Tomahawk missiles.
Why are we involved in Syria?
It started when President Obama took exception to human rights abuses by President Assad of Syria. However, Obama then embraced the “popular” rebellion by the Muslim Brotherhood, which then precipitated much of Assad’s alleged abuse.
Assad is not a nice guy, nor were Ghadaffi in Libya or Mubarek in Egypt; nevertheless, they were mostly secular leaders, who permitted Sunni and Shia Muslims to live in relative peace, as well as Christians and other religions. In each case, Obama quickly took the side of radical Muslim rebels, with uniformly disastrous results. Only Egypt has recovered from this policy, prompting Obama to turn his back on them. Obama's reaction to the Syrian rebellion, and abandonment of Iraq, led to the ascendancy of ISIS and Iranian influence in the region. Obama’s soul-mate, Jimmy Carter, did essentially the same thing in Iran 40 years ago, deposing the secular Shah and introducing the religious rule of the Ayatollas.
This leaves President Trump with few alternatives - retaliate against Assad for using chemical weapons or ignore it for the present. This begs the question, was it Assad who used poison gas on the rebel stronghold. There are a number of things which lend credibility to Assad’s (and Russia’s) denials.
- Gassing the rebels offered no tactical or strategic advantage to Assad. The rebels are essentially crushed.
- While it is clear that Assad used so-called “barrel bombs,” there is no evidence that they contained anything other than explosives
- The rebels are known to possess toxic agents, including Sarin nerve gas and chlorine. Liquid chlorine can easily be stored in relatively light metal containers and need only withstand 35 psi. (All war gasses are liquids, until dispersed).
- If chlorine (or Sarin) canisters were planted in the buildings subject to attack, the aerial bombs would easily release their contents
- Images of the victims did not show men of military age, only women, children and the elderly. Where were the rebels?
- Use of lethal gas in the past precipitated a violent response from President Trump (Obama just drew another “red line.”)
- The US response essentially provided air power to the rebels, and punished Assad’s resources in a way not otherwise possible.
- In other words, deployment of lethal gas is of strategic advantage to the rebels.
Will bombing Syria make America safer?
Two questions should first be asked before we take any action in Syria, which is being perceived by some as an unpatriotic thing to do, even by those who have no skin in the game.
- Why we are considering bombing Syria if we're not yet certain the Assad government really did use chemical weapons on its own people?
- How would the bombing pf Syria make this nation any safer? China would love for our country to bled in yet another war, which would weaken our military and increase our already frightening and ballooning debt.
Moral reasons are being cited by both Republicans and Democrats for bombing Syria, but do we even have a plan as to what will happen in the aftermath? Despite how bad it is in Syria the question remains, is it in America's best interests to escalate our involvement in Syria with the possibly of inciting anther costly war, possibly with Russia, that could drag on for years?
Russia is paying close attention. There are Russians embedded in all military units in Syria. Awhile back Russians were killed in an American strike. Russian held her powder at the time but has said she will retaliate if it happens again, meaning that Americans now in Syria will be targeted.
Trump need not be in a hurry. The Carpenter’s Rule of “Measure twice, cut once” applies here too.