If you have turned on the television over the last week, you may have believed at first glance the U.S. had returned to a policy of “shock and awe” in the Middle East. The media coverage was so incredibly sensationalized, you could almost feel the pulse of some pundits beating their chests through the television. MSNBC’s Brian Williams even went as far to go on a strange, rambling description of the attacks, calling them “beautiful.”
With all of this going on, it was somewhat unclear as to what the scale was of what was happening. In reality, what effect do the strikes have, and why on earth were they used? In an official regard, the missiles were launched due to a chemical gas attack from the Assad regime, killing at least 85 civilians. Because of this, President Donald Trump’s administration ordered the launching of 59 tomahawk missiles to cripple an Assad air base, calling the gas strikes an “affront to humanity.” On this, I don’t think any reasonable person can disagree.
In reality, the strikes will do next to nothing. There are multiple reports that the base is already being used by Assad forces again. The American ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, has said it is no longer the primary objective of the U.S. to remove Assad from power, and with its limited effect on the regime’s military capability, it is unlikely. So the strikes will not stop Assad from being in power.
As for saving lives, can the U.S. really claim to be fighting for humanitarian reasons when it has done almost nothing to prevent the 500,000 deaths so far in the Syrian civil war? Let’s not forget, Trump was a huge proponent of telling former President Barack Obama to not get involved when Assad crossed his “red line” on chemical weapons. Other Republicans like Marco Rubio, who are hailing this as a victory, were also in the boat of imploring Obama to not intervene.
I am not saying whether the strikes are wrong or if the U.S. should intervene or not. I think that is an incredibly difficult decision that we need to make as a country, and each person should form their own opinions as to if it is right or wrong to do so.
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What I am saying is that we shouldn’t allow the administration, nor ourselves, to believe that we are making a stand for human rights, and are thus this champion of liberty, when, as a country, we have not prevented it up until this point.
As for the administration specifically, I find it incredibly disingenuous that the same people who were saying it was none of our business as a country are now saying we have sent a signal that the U.S. will not stand for such violations of human rights. The signal that is really being sent is that the U.S. will not allow for specific violations as long as the political climate is right, and it doesn’t hurt our politicians’ chances of winning reelection.
Harry Lees ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science.