Yep, President Trump fired missiles at Syria.
News outlets, pundits, and all the so-called political experts are weighing in on the issue. People will be debating the pro's and con's of this action for the next few days (unless something else takes the limelight). And we will hear no end of bellyaching about it for many weeks or months to come (especially if this is drawn out into a larger campaign).
I'm reserving judgment on the entire situation until more information comes out. It's clear that Syria has been a complete mess for a long time. The war has been raging for six years. It has generated a migrant crisis that's spread to Europe and parts beyond. And of course, it has resulted in many lost lives.
From the beginning, people have been pointing fingers over who's to blame for Syria- and by extension, much of the conflict in the Middle East. To untangle the mess that is Middle Eastern conflict and politics will require the expertise of someone much smarter than myself. But we can explore America's involvement in recent years and at least speculate on our motives.
Much of why we are involved in the Middle East right now can be attributed to the 9-11 terror attacks. Yep, we have to go all the way back there. Those devastating attacks dramatically changed world politics in ways we still don’t fully understand. But it did compel the United States to return to a part of the world that never seems to stay settled.
Our immediate response was to invade Afghanistan, which is where it was believed Bin Laden and his forces were hiding (we later learned the rat fled to Pakistan). Soon after that, we invaded Iraq, for nebulous reasons, at best. Many American to this day still don't understand why we invaded Iraq, when it seemed the goal had always been to stomp out the terrorists responsible for 9-11. While the leaders of Iraq were corrupt and quite possibly aiding terrorists, there was never a clear reason for why we had to invade (we all know the WMD's reason wasn't 100% valid).
Some speculated we were after the oil. Some even speculated that Bush was trying to finish the work his father started in the 90's (yet another conflict in the Middle East).
Either way, the War in Iraq lead to problems that brought about the rise of ISIS and the current Syrian war. Like I said, it's pretty tangled.
This past week we learned that the Syrian president used chemical weapons to kill civilians in a hospital. This act was so egregious, it led President Trump to reverse his long-standing opinion about the Middle East to fire missiles at an airbase to cripple Syrian's chemical weapons arsenal.
But was our response justified? Already Trump supporters, namely the alt-right and non-traditional conservatives, are flipping out over this action.
Some of my more radical (i.e.: dishonest) colleagues online are saying it's a prelude to war. Even hardcore right-wingers are abandoning Trump as we speak, just because this act has pleased liberals.
Not the best policy to live by, guys.
The fact remains that this act brings to light a bigger question: just what should the United States do to influence other nations?
President Trump rode a wave of populism into the White House. Some have called it "nationalism" or the irrational feelings of putting your country above all other interests, to the exclusion of others. Trump called it "Making America Great Again."
Trump's priority to put our country's citizens ahead of foreign interests does not mean we won't be involved in other issues affecting the world. Yet people abandoning Trump right now seem to possess a kind of populism that borders on isolationism. They refuse to accept the fact that the U.S. should get involved in world affairs (unless of course, we're bombing ISIS. They applaud that because they pose a direct threat to America).
So should the United States ignore the suffering of innocent civilians, simply because they live in another country?
"My fellow Americans, on Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many, even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror." (via White House)
The president said this act was so terrible, it motivated him to action. Some conspiracy theories claim (without real evidence) that the chemical attack was a "false flag" operation aimed at manipulating America to go to war. Some even claim ISIS did it (again, without evidence).
That sounds convincing, especially if you're prone to hype and hysteria. But I have a feeling the alt-righter's and people claiming this are blowing smoke in our collective faces, hoping they can guess the truth, rather than backing it up with facts.
It's startling for me to see certain people, who were so doggedly devoted to Trump and his movement, so quickly attack him over this action. To me, it reveals their true loyalties and causes me to question their overall motives.
It might even prove that the "alt-right" movement is nothing more than a collection of misfits and outsiders who prioritize dissent rather than offering a shred of loyalty.
This is why I consider myself a traditional conservative, although I reserve my right to disagree with the Republican Party. I find it odd and disturbing that there are people so quick to attack Trump, cook up loaded conspiracy theories, and get upset because the mainstream media is applauding the missile strike.
Was this whole movement just about attacking the media? Were we on board with Trump just because the left didn't like him? Or do we support our leaders even when we don't fully grasp the situation?
Compare the reaction to how liberals behave. They have such devotion to their people, that even when they fall, they have their back. We saw that when Bill Clinton was exposed in his affair. Obama's people still love him, no matter what how bad Obamacare gets. And even when Hillary refused to show up on election night- insulting the many people gathered to support her- they still seem to love her.
While I will have to mull over just why alt-rights and other conservatives show such a lack of loyalty, we still need to address the larger question.
Is it okay to intervene with bombs, but not aid? Liberals have attacked conservatives for not wanting to accept refugees from the war on the basis of not getting involved. But is it okay to bomb a country when they are doing something wrong?
Should the United States attack every nation that oppresses its people? If that were the case, our military would be very busy.
We've seen historically how bad things can get when we get involved in conflicts we should stay out of (like this little thing called the Vietnam War). Yet is it morally acceptable to do nothing?
People like Rand Paul are complaining because yes, technically, we were not attacked. Perhaps the U.S. should not get involved unless our own people are in danger. But could any morally-sound leader look away when children and mothers are horribly killed- and with chemical weapons?
Some might argue that it's wrong to get involved at this point, but as I established, much of this mess was caused by U.S. meddling in the first place. Trump's decision to act now, not two months ago or two months from now, may seem arbitrary (Assad has a history of attacking his people), but the decision has been made; we can't un-launch those missiles.
The fact remains that the United States has global concerns. That's neither good nor bad (depending on your point of view, it can be both). We are living in a time where isolationism simply isn't possible. And to a certain extent, isolationism is morally wrong. And comically unrealistic.
The United States has been offering aid to the world for many years. You can trace back our current global involvement to the end of WWII, when the USAID was founded, an agency that offers various forms of support and aid to hard-hit countries and the third world. We have military deployed all over the world to protect Americans and our allies (even now we are working with Japan and South Korea to prevent Lil' Kim from bombing them into oblivion).
So there's no scenario where the United States doesn't get involved in the affairs of other countries. But where do we draw the line? How far is too far? Should the United States intervene in every country that's troubled? Should we step in and fix the legislative issues of Venezuela, which is becoming more and more like a dictatorship? When does our involvement become a political act that undermines the sovereignty of a nation?
It's clear that we are not done with Syria. The bombing of the base was only the beginning of an effort to remove Assad and perhaps bring an end to the war.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “steps are under way” to form an international coalition to remove the president of Syria Bashar al-Assad after Tuesday’s chemical bombings in Syria.
"Assad’s role in the future is uncertain and with the acts that he has taken, it would seem that there would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people..."
"The process by which Assad would leave I think requires an international community effort, both to first defeat ISIS within Syria, to stabilize the Syrian country, to avoid further civil war and then to work collectively with our partners around the world through a political process that would lead to Assad leaving." (via Breitbart)
Clearly, this thing isn't going to end overnight and will require a greater commitment by the United States and our allies than we might anticipate. Going into another country to fix their problems isn't an easy thing, and you can argue it's something that shouldn't even be done.
But when the rest of the world is suffering because of Syria's war, a response is inevitable.
I don't think there are clearly defined limits when it comes to the intervention of one country over another. Groups like the United Nations and ICC might try to set boundaries and guidelines, but the pervading rules seem to be "whatever we can get away with."
Americans- like most people- like clear rules. Cut and dry guidelines. They might not want to follow them all the time personally, but they expect their leaders to. So when it comes to America's policy on world affairs, it seems some Trump supporters wanted an "all or none" approach. But that doesn't work. We're committed to many places, all around the world.
And while many of us might balk at a mounting campaign in Syria, sometimes we have no choice.
The bottom line seems to be: nobody knows where to draw the line.