HE MAINSTREAM MEDIA went absolutely daffy because the United States had bombed a Syrian airbase. This may not seem too surprising, considering there’s a war going on over there, but the Shayrat airbase was where the Syrian government’s fighter jets originated from, just moments before they had launched a chemical attack on their own civilians at the town of Khan Shaykhun—killing more than 100 people. Along with the horrific stories that were published, a whole whack of photographs depicting children being tortured by painful toxins—which always guarantees to bring a public reaction—was released too.
Sadly, this is not the first time something like this has happened during the Syrian war and it probably will not be the last.
Syria is a horrible catastrophe.
Arguably, the civil war in Syria started in the summer of 2011. Arab Spring protesters were mercilessly shut down by the Syrian government—led by the President, Bashar al-Assad. Ever since then the entire country has been in shambles and is just the latest Arab-majority nation to be the battleground for the global War on Terror. Half of Syria’s total population has already fled to neighboring countries, seeking safety in the form of asylum, but millions are still stuck there—dodging the death that’s literally being dropped from the sky.
As the Syrian conflict enters its seventh year, more than 465,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, more than a million injured and over 12 million Syrians — half the country’s prewar population — have been displaced from their homes.
The War on Terror began a decade earlier in 2001. A massive, all-encompassing campaign against terrorists—that’s being spearheaded by the US—in order to eliminate all forms of radicalism in the name of peace and universal freedoms. Since the war began, ever so often, like clockwork, the media pulls on a really emotional string—like pictures of tortured children—then the war-free public around the world can’t help but go into a hysteric episode of disarray.
Just the term terrorism works like a cultural anesthesia for the global hatred and fear that we all feel: controlling the pain and helping to all lower the animosity that’s been generated by a long, drawn-out, two-decade war against different marginalized groups of minorities in countries that are far away from our homes.
2017- Khan Shaykhun chemical attack
The United States put the blame for the attack on the Syrian government and its patrons, Russia and Iran, and suggested that the salvo was a war crime.
While the attack was among the deadliest uses of chemical weapons in Syria in years, it was far from an isolated case.
The recently elected President of the US took swift action in retaliation after a chemical attack was committed by the Syrian (Assad regime) government. This is where the difference lies from all of the other past events of chemical warfare that’s happened in Syria. During Obama’s time in office, many attacks happened—most notably the Ghouta chemical attack in 2013—however, none of them have ever been officially blamed on any particular group, person or government. Even today, there is still debate on exactly who’s providing these chemical weapons.
On 4 April 2017, the town of Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Governorate of Syria, was struck by a heavy airstrike followed by massive civilian chemical poisoning… If confirmed, the attack would become the deadliest use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war since the Ghouta chemical attack in 2013.
Trump jumped really fast at this picture-perfect opportunity to get in a direct conflict with the Assad regime. Maybe he thought he could get a resolution started if he took some action but his eagerness to get the conflict over within Syria has only backfired and made him appear to be even more unhinged than he was before.
Syrian state media has claimed that a US missile attack on a government airbase has killed seven people, including four children.
2013 – Ghouta chemical attack
On August 21st, at 2:30 a.m., a half-dozen densely populated neighborhoods were jolted awake by a series of explosions, followed by an oozing blanket of suffocating gas.
Unknown to Syrian officials, US spy agencies recorded each step in the alleged chemical attack…
Those records and intercepts would become the core of the Obama administration’s evidentiary case linking the Syrian government to what one official called an “indiscriminate, inconceivable horror” — the use of outlawed toxins to kill nearly 1,500 civilians, including at least 426 children.
Back in 2013, the US claimed that their spy agencies “recorded every step” of the Ghouta chemical attack — which killed around 1,500 civilians. The Americans then used this “evidence” that they gathered to begin the airstrikes in Syria. But when the United Nations did their many investigations into what exactly happened in Ghouta—they did seven of them following the attacks—they concluded that:
The 7th Report … stated the sarin used in the Ghouta attack bore the “same unique hallmarks” as the sarin used in the Khan al-Assal attack (a chemical attack in Khan al-Assal, Syria, on 19 March 2013: 26 fatalities including 16 government soldiers and 10 civilians …)
The report, dated 12 February 2014, also indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military.
No perpetrator was identified by the UN, for either the Ghouta and the Khan al-Assal attacks but they did mention they were very similar in nature. Ghouta is now being labeled as a false flag attack by other countries. Did the US use the terrifying news to enable them to get involved in a new war? The UN’s reports say that there is a good likelihood that the Syrian government was guilty, but that this is strictly because of the vast amount of the toxic gas that was used—an indication that a government could have been involved in the attacks.
In 2013, the US used their own “evidence” and the UN’s conclusions that “perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military,” to start getting involved in Syria. And still to this day, the US government alone still blames the Syrian government (the Assad regime) for these attacks but nobody else agrees with them. When Obama finally started airstrikes on September 22, 2014—Trump, of all people, was very critical of the intervention on Twitter:
August 2013: Ghouta is attacked with a suspected nerve agent, leading to as many as 1,700 civilian deaths. The attack, which the West blamed on the Syrian government, raises concern over U.S. intervention after Obama previously said the use of chemical weapons would serve as a “red line” for responding.
TWEET BY TRUMP
“That said, the rich Arab countries should get involved with the Syrian mess, not us.We should start rebuilding our own country & military.” — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013
“How bad has our “leader” made us look on Syria. Stay out of Syria, we don’t have the leadership to win wars or even strategize.” — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2013
September 2013: U.N. weapons inspectors report that chemical weapons were used in Ghouta, but don’t conclude who was behind their use. Trump again tweets against action in Syria…
TWEET BY TRUMP
“The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria,fix U.S.A.” — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2013
“Obama must now start focusing on OUR COUNTRY, jobs, healthcare and all of our many problems. Forget Syria and make America great again!” — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2013
April 4: Warplanes reportedly attack Syria’s Idlib province, killing dozens. Russia says the planes belonged to Syria, and were striking a rebel workshop that housed chemical weapons — which is disputed by humanitarian groups. The White House releases a statement alluding to some sort of action: “These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing.”
April 6: Trump announces authorizing a military strike against a Syrian airbase in response to the chemical attack — the first of its kind specifically targeting the Syrian government during this prolonged civil war.
It is not news to see that a politician is being so hypocritical. It’s not surprising anyone. Trump has hardly proven himself to be a real politician but his job definitely is a political one.
Nobody cares that his position has completely changed about national policy. One year he’s an intimidating reality TV star, firing people left and right and trolling somebody else for ordering airstrikes and the next—he’s the one that’s doing it himself. In response to the airstrikes on April 7th:
A joint command center made up of the forces of Russia, Iran and militias supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday said the U.S. strike on a Syrian air base on Friday crossed “red lines” and it would respond to any new aggression and increase its support for its ally.
“What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well,” said the statement published by the group on media outlet Ilam al Harbi (War Media)
The baby-like hypocrisy and impatience of Trump are starting to embarrass the US. Saying that that guy is their Commander-in-Chief must really suck. His historic Presidency—now only five months deep—was soaked in unprovoked hatred during the election campaign and is now starting to drown in its own ocean of endless lies and bad decisions. The chemical attacks are acts of aggression by the Assad regime (or whoever is doing it) in order to try to keep the Syrian people in line.
The whole world depends on the US to keep the “bad guys” around the world in line. But here is where we have arrived at the mighty paradox. (A paradox is a statement that, despite apparently sound reasoning from true premises, leads to a self-contradictory or a logically unacceptable conclusion.)
The whole world has this invisible red line that the US military is expected to adhere to. The red line is a controversial, ethical type of humanitarian “line” that concerns all chemical weapons, period. Did the US set up this red line themselves or did the rest of the world put this responsibility on the US? Nobody knows. It is there though, and the US is expected to uphold it. The act of using or distributing toxic weapons is a crime that is against humanity and it requires military intervention.
On one hand, the US military is blamed for taking too much action, like an airstrike in retaliation to a chemical attack—which ended up killing even more Syrian children on the ground. And then alternatively, they’re blamed for not getting involved in other acts of aggression, for letting other innocent people die.
The US just can’t win—if they act and if they don’t. They are expected to have everything under control around the world because they’re supposed to be protecting all of us — peaceful democratic people—from evil, right? Well, that sure does sound nice but for how long can one nation keep this up? Forever?
Just look at the numbers: the US is in perpetual debt. They may have taken on this superpower-position themselves after they won WWII but now after losing dozens of new conflicts, they can’t just back out of what they started.
So the man who once bragged to a baying audience that he would tell five-year-old Syrian refugees to their faces that the US would not offer them safety, is now driven by his heart. Touching indeed… Trump is now showing leadership, apparently… Leadership is shown by a man widely feared to be a) unhinged b) demagogic and c) authoritarian, dropping bombs in defiance of his country’s democratic process.
Those who critique Trump’s unilateral assault on Syria are portrayed as heartless in the face of the gassing of little children, just as opponents of war in Iraq and Libya were demonised as indifferent to those murdered and tortured and persecuted by Saddam Hussein and Muammar or Gaddafi.
Trump is now emboldened. The pundits are applauding him, his critics have praised him, his appalling approval ratings will surely edge up. Further military action – by a man who has repeatedly bragged about disrespecting the norms of war – will surely follow. He bypassed the constitution this time, and will be praised for it, so why shouldn’t he next time? And if war comes with North Korea, what will the liberal pundits do? Some will cheerlead him all over again. “Where’s your compassion for the suffering of North Korea?” will be their cryto silence opposition, just as it was with Iraq and Libya.
Trump’s heart was totally in the right place by retaliating against the use of chemical weapons in Syria—I’ll give him that. Despite the tensions escalating so immensely on all sides in the region, what the world needs right now—especially the Syrian people—is not a bunch of leaders who are just acting emotionally without actually asking any real questions first: Why are we even in Syria? Is it because of a pipeline? Or is it because of humanitarian reasons? Is this destruction just a façade for an economic battle?
We need some real, transparent leaders who are going to work diplomatically with each other, even with their non-allies, in order to protect innocent lives and to resolve this terrible conflict for good. The War on Terrorism has to stop. There are way too many cooks in the kitchen, way too many hands in the cookie jar, and it’s the Syrians themselves who are paying for this expensive feast with their innocent lives.
Header credit: AP Photo