The chemical weapons attack in Syria shocked the world. Only two days later, on the 6th of April, the United States responded with airstrikes that Syrian State media has claimed killed four children and three adults.
Approximately 60 US Tomahawk missiles were launched at a Syrian airfield which was used by Syrian, Russian, and Iranian troops. This is in sharp contrast to Trump’s previous Syria policy, which has been to not get involved, and it is not clear what brought about the change (other than references to ‘beautiful babies’). Syrian use of chemical weapons breaches the UN’s Convention on Chemical Weapons, and the international community spent the following days debating what the appropriate response should be. The US Administration didn’t debate: they acted.
The U-turn, the hypocrisy, the hastiness of the action: all of them raise huge concerns. President Trump did not seek the approval of Congress or other parties, such as the UN, before making the decision to strike.
Notably, several Senators and House Representatives have pointed out that this behaviour goes against the US constitution. Trump supporters are infuriated by this move, too, and others have pointed out the irony that the US is willing to launch airstrikes on behalf of Syrian citizens but not willing to accept them as refugees.
Those who support the strikes don’t seem to be considering the long-term consequences and the dangerous history of Western interventionism in the region. Historically, similar actions have not ended well. The situation many countries in the Middle East find themselves in is a direct result of intervention from the West. This includes acts like colonialism, the Iraq war, and various behind-the-scenes maneuvers to ensure a government was in place that was sympathetic to Western ideals, even under undemocratic circumstances.
It’s true that we cannot allow the Syrian government to use chemical weapons on its citizens. But this action by the Trump Administration has been conducted without foresight, without planning, in an absolute u-turn from previous policies. Nothing about this can be considered a positive, even if it is against a government which must also be condemned.
People feel the need to pick a side: to say airstrikes are okay because chemical weapons aren’t as if military intervention is the only solution. Syrian politics are complex and Trump’s presidency is still in its infancy, and radical actions like this have long-lasting consequences which are not being considered.
The US could potentially be entering a war with Syria, without planning for what a future Syrian government (without Assad) will be like. Scholars in the US have suggested that there is no legal basis for American airstrikes against Syria, and several Russian officials have condemned the attack. The airstrikes have broad political implications for the United States, Syria, and Russia, and the decision to carry them out was made far too hastily and without following appropriate processes.
Once again, the United States has intervened in a country it faces no threat from in the name of the ‘greater good’. We’ve heard this story before far too many times and it has resulted in atrocities throughout the world. This airstrike shows that the US feels no remorse and intends to continue on its path of bloody imperialism.
America is using the Syrian crisis to its own advantage.