Yesterday President Trump ordered a cruise missile attack on a Major Syrian Military airbase. The attack was ordered as a response to the Syrian gassing of its own citizens that is said to have taken 80 lives nearly half of which were women and children.
I have been highly critical of President Trump since he announced his candidacy and likely will continue to be part of the loyal opposition. In the case of last night’s Syrian bombing, I think he did one-half of the right thing. Faced with several bad choices in several hot spots he chose to respond to the Syrians with 59 cruise missiles aimed at one airbase. Chemical and biological weapons are illegal, but this is not the first time Bashar al-Assad, The Syrian Dictator, has used them. Actually, he is not even supposed to have them. An agreement brokered with the Russians a few years ago was supposed to have eliminated and/or destroyed those weapons. Obviously, both of those nations reneged on their word.
Trump could have chosen to do nothing — but the pictures of the suffering and dying people, children, in particular, were generating an international outrage. As Trump contemplated his options he was being watched closely by Syria, Russia, China, North Korea and Iran never mind the rest of the world. This was a test of American resolve, whether accidental or not. Had he not responded the way he did as quickly as he did we would have sent the wrong message to all of those rogue nations.
One strike on one airbase, however, may not be enough because while Trump may have destroyed some of the means of delivering chemical weapons he did not destroy the weapons themselves. Trump can wait until Assad does it again, as he surely will, or he can launch a strike on the facility or facilities that produce those weapons. He almost has to strike again because if he doesn’t he will have sent two messages. The first set of messages were about American decisiveness and resolve. but if there is no follow-up attack, the second set will contradict the first.
So far Mr. Trump has done well in addressing a military situation but by attacking Syria he automatically assumed ownership of the humanitarian problem, after all, isn’t that why he ordered t he bombing? That means he is now in conflict with himself and his twice court rebuked travel ban executive order. With the Syrian attack, he got half of my support on this issue, to get all of it, he must address both problems.
I hate war. I have a 50-year record of opposing wars and I hope this situation in Syria does not involve us further in that civil conflict. While the refugees may be grateful for the bombing, they are still afraid, hungry and grief stricken. Bombs do nothing to address that situation.
President Trump cannot, on one hand say, “we bombed your oppressors because we care about you”, and on the other hand say, “but you are not welcome in our country because we don’t trust you.” If Mr. Trump does nothing about the suffering, then the bombing will do little good. I hope no one mistakes a cruise missile attack for compassion because it isn’t. The attack was retribution, now the refugees need a show of concern, of compassion. They need food and safety and comfort and health care and….well the ands could go on for a while. They need Mr. Trump to withdraw his travel ban and endorse a program to provide much-needed humanitarian aid.
I am hoping that Mr. Trump will now launch that second phase. One in which he finds it in his heart to help those Syrian refugees beyond bombing Assad’s air force. Bombing them may feel good but it does nothing to satisfy hunger, to quell the terror or to save the children. The Syrians caught in this terrible war have endured atrocities too horrible to imagine.
Mr. Trump took a necessary first step. Now he should take the necessary second step and help relieve the Syrian refugees of their suffering. That will be the true test of the President’s compassion. He can do that in two ways. One is to provide immediate aid in a safer environment to the suffering refugees and their families. The second is that he should immediately announce that he is withdrawing his executive order that would ban Syrians and others from coming here.
The President said yesterday that he can change his mind, that he is flexible. Now is his chance to prove it.
And from where I sit, that’s the truth