What to think about the airstrikes in Syria

Just more than 12 hours after I published my post about WWI and Syria, President Trump launched an air strike against the Shayrat Airfield in Syria. There is certainly no shortage of hot or bad takes on social media right now about whether that was a logical decision.

I’m not an expert, nor am I confident in what the right decision is regarding Syria. I’m a little unsettled that this administration changed course in a 12-hour period. However, the Syrian people have been waiting for years for someone, anyone, to help end the conflict.

I have a lot of thoughts swirling in my head right now so here’s a rundown of them by hot take topics on social media:

The strikes are good/bad

I don’t know that we can say either right now. I can say this is the most measured and cautious response to the horrors of a chemical weapons strike. There were no casualties and only an air strip from where the chemical weapons strike was launched was targeted.

These are strikes that most reasonable people think was an appropriate response, including Hillary Clinton. It’s likely the same response Obama would have taken if Congress had given approval three-and-a-half-years ago.

The strikes may also send a signal to North Korea, and China for that matter, that Trump is serious about taking military action.

That being said, the celebration of military strike feels ick. It means there was a breakdown in solving the problem diplomatically and it seems unwise to take joy in that. This can be the best decision and still not be a good decision. I think we have to wait to make any judgment on whether this was the correct move.

Politicians taking victory laps

What’s irritating is that many of the people celebrating the attacks voted against Obama taking military action. The use of chemical weapons a second time was apparently the final straw when, for years, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad bombed his own people in their homes and in hospitals, as well as denied aid getting through to his starved people. Where were these politicians when these things were happening?

KFile did a tweet storm comparing how politicians reacted in 2013 compared to now.

The Kremlin’s involvement

Some are grabbing onto the fact that the military called the deconfliction line to warn Russia before the launch. This is likely going to feed story lines about Trump-Russia connections, but it shouldn’t. This is exactly what should have happened to ensure there were no Russian casualties and to prevent escalating the situation.

That said, Putin supports the Assad regime so it is entirely predictable that the Kremlin would condemn the attacks, promise to rebuild the air capabilities of Assad and threaten to cut the deconfliction line.

Russia has a military base in Syria and also wants to prove that it sticks by its allies. That’s one of the complicated parts of solving this crisis. The Kremlin was supposed to arrange for Assad to get rid of the chemical weapons supply — that clearly didn’t happen.

Trump is a hypocrite because he will bomb Syria, but won’t take refugees

I agree to an extent with this talking point. It is hypocritical to say you are taking humanitarian action but won’t respond in a peaceful way to the crisis. And I think we should be taking in refugees because it is consistent with our morals and our commitments to the international community.

But admitting refugees is a response to humanitarian need, not a solution to the crisis. To suggest we should “bring in all of the refugees” as a solution makes some pretty western assumptions that are unsettling to me. What if Syrians don’t want to leave their home? Is their home not worthy of saving? It’s not easy to leave your home, even in a war. It kind of sends the message that Syria is a lost cause and I’m not sure that’s a message we want to send.

At some point the root cause of this migration has to be addressed, otherwise the Assad regime, as well as ISIS, will continue to operate in the area. As Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said yesterday, if the violence continues we will be raising a generation who thinks the world has turned its back on them. They will be vulnerable to the influence of terrorist organizations in that area.

Eventually, (hopefully?) Assad will step aside from power. When that happens, who will lead and rebuild Syria if everyone has moved to Europe and the U.S.?

How does this end?

So that’s the big question. I don’t see a way where Assad stays in power and there is peace in Syria. So how does Assad step aside? Is this the end of U.S. involvement? Nobody seems to know.

We’re getting conflicting statements from the administration right now. Who speaks for this administration? There doesn’t seem to be a long-term plan or any coordination with our allies.

This leaves me holding my breath over this action. I guess history will judge whether this was the right decision or not. I pray for the Syrian people that it was in their best interests, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

3 thoughts on “What to think about the airstrikes in Syria

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