Saturday, April 14, 2018

President Trump Attacks Syria Again

In response to what he claimed were chemical weapon attacks against Syrian rebels, President Trump ordered missile attacks against targets in Syria. These bombings were done in concert with France and the UK on Friday night. The number of casualties and other damage is at this time unclear.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States, France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again, President Donald Trump announced Friday. Pentagon officials said the attacks targeted the heart of Assad's programs to develop and produce chemical weapons.

Explosions lit up the skies over Damascus, the Syrian capital, as Trump spoke from the White House. Syrian television reported that Syria's air defenses, which are substantial, responded to the attack. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said there were no reports of U.S. losses in what he described as a heavy but carefully limited assault.

Trump said the U.S. is prepared to sustain economic, diplomatic and military pressure on Assad until he ends what the president called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons. "The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead," Trump said. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied any use of banned weapons.

The decision to strike, after days of deliberations, marked Trump's second order to attack Syria. He authorized a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit a single Syrian airfield in April 2017 in retaliation for Assad's use of sarin gas against civilians. The strikes that hit early Saturday in Syria came hours before inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were set to arrive to inspect the site of the apparent attack. 

Given that the Syrian national regime is winning the civil war with support from both Russia and Iran you may wonder why it would want to ratchet up a conflict with the United States. You also may wonder where is the independent evidence that there was use of chemical weapons or that Assad did it. You might ask yourself what is the United States national interest advanced by firing missiles at Syria. You may muse as to why the United States is supporting ISIS and Al-Quaeda affiliated rebels. You may question that if the US intervention in Libya and Iraq made things worse for citizens of those countries and surrounding areas then will bombing Syria somehow magically have a different effect. Perhaps you will show some curiosity about why Israel can sadistically shoot unarmed protesters on what amounts to a bantustan and beam the footage globally without a peep from the United States but brutality in Syria requires immediate intervention. 

You may be suspicious that the bipartisan surrender of Congressional war making power to the President is not really what the Constitution requires or allows. You may suspect that the corporatist left who have been taunting Trump for alleged obsequiousness to Russian President Putin, will now unironically claim that Trump is only attacking Syria to, you guessed it, cover up his Putin connections. And they will be matched by the know nothing right who pulled out their constitution to lecture President Obama about his limited war making abilities but who will fall in line behind President Trump firing off missiles against a sovereign state just because he felt like it.
You may not be surprised to see people who muttered not a mumbling word about Obama wars in Libya and bombs across the world, suddenly dust off their antiwar credentials because Trump's bombs are somehow worse than Obama's.

The problem is that if we get war regardless of which party holds power and no matter what Congress says then the system is broken. President Obama is a cool calculating fellow. President Trump is a buffoon with an apparent unhealthy lifestyle and long track record of ripping off people. But both of them attacked other countries without Congressional approval or attacks on the US. The rot in the system is resistant to whoever holds the Presidency. This country, and its political elites, its military-industrial complex, its media sycophants, are all addicted to war. The only way to stop this is to vote people into Congress who will refuse to fund war, who will cut off monies for wars started without their approval, who will refuse to confirm appointments of war hawks, and who will impeach Presidents who start wars without Congress. That's something that's not going to happen any time soon. But I think we still have to try.
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