A Step Into the Quagmire, Colltalers
It’s hard to start a column with two cliches, ‘here we go again,’ and ‘we told you so.’ But the U.S. 59 Tomahawk missile strikes rained down on Syria this week was not just predictable, but in typical fashion, will accomplish many crucial goals benefiting only one person: Trump.
Again, he’s managed to drag the world into a narrative that artificially boosts his profile, while shoving aside every objection – and they’re still mounting – being raised domestically even by soon-to-be former supporters, and by an increasingly alarmed international community.
Yes, last Tuesday’s horrible Bashar al-Assad-ordered chemical attack on his own people did crush our ability to even comprehend such brutality. It was as if we were back in 1917, before chemical weapons were banned and were still being routinely used in the battlefield.
But the administration’s claim that weapons are the appropriate response to such act of terror, and that suddenly, we care about Syria, is both unacceptable and disingenuous. Worst, it’s likely that the strikes are not part of any thought out policy but a one-track minded, hasty gesture.
For a similar attack occurred back in 2013, and nothing was done to prevent it from happening again, neither by the U.S. nor its allies. Plus, one of the leading voices demanding President Obama not to act on impulse, despite the overwhelming aversion caused by similar footage of poor civilians gasping for their last breath that came out in its aftermath, was exactly a then conveniently much more restrained Trump’s.
The same one who, once elected, has locked all doors to Syrian refugees. And who lashed at the former president’s stance for being ‘weak’ in that and all the many conflicts around the world, where American troops are still being killed in the name
of an ill-formulated foreign policy.
Before getting to the ‘what ifs’ related to an alternate reality with Obama or Hillary Clinton as presidents, it’s just common sense to heed to the word of many sincere experts in the tragic sinkhole Syria has become, which continue being ignored by the administration. There’s an almost consensus that something like 17 separate conflicts are currently being waged in the country. And only one relates directly to Syria.
What makes the strikes something way more sinister than a mere ‘precipitated military response,’ to use words of a sole Sunday talk shows interviewee, is the callousness and hypocrisy of the president. Specially when he cited Syrian children as his motivation. It’s not just that, dead or alive, they could never enter the U.S. now, but that the strikes, just like the one in Raqqa, last month, also killed kids and innocents.
There may be many, and will be more with or without new sorties. But what many organizations working towards the only possible solution for the Syrian conflict – immediate cessation of all armed actions – have reiterated is that it’s morally bankrupted to selectively decide which deaths should be avenged and punished, if any, and which ones are perfectly fine, as long as they’re inflicted by our side, whatever it may be.
The estimated 16 other conflicts that don’t care about the fate of the Syrian people, involve an assortment of nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, the U.S., Israel, gosh, should we just keep going? sects, ethnic groups, and of course terrorists organizations such as Daesh.
Above all, this is a bloody game that already has a winner, no matter what may finally work out as a solution to the situation: the industrial-military complex, led by U.S. corporations on the payroll of the Defense Dept., and also several multinational weapon manufacturers.
It’s realistic to say that even a possible peace agreement will have to be secured by the barrel of silent guns provided by these immeasurable powers. But that doesn’t mean that they should run the show and have carte blanche to act as de-facto arbiters of other countries’ grievances.
Domestically, it’s hard to say which is worse: to watch a previously budding opposition to the regime melting away in support to yet another U.S. military adventure; to see that as expected, all other issues take a secondary role to the new situation; or to catch the utterly despicable spectacle of media big wigs calling the strikes ‘beautiful,’ in awe of the ‘entertaining value’ of weapons of mass destruction being deployed.
There shouldn’t be any doubts about the real aim behind the strikes, and it has nothing to do with the Syrian people, conflict resolution, war on terror, safeguarding the integrity of American borders, or to reaffirm, against the evidence, the U.S. as a force for goodwill in the world.
The real motivation is, and may continue to be, to soothe the wounded mind of a man-child, who is losing control of the many destructive forces he unleashed, and credibility to appeal to his own supporters. And to divert once more charges that the Putin regime has propped him up at the presidency. While refuting, albeit without any proof, many claims leveled against him, Trump’s kept somewhat mum about Putin.
Anyone can see what this will lead us to. While in his own mind, he may think the strikes prove his critics wrong, and show independence towards Russia, over there they’re not taking it lightly. A longtime supporter of Assad, Putin sees the attack as a perfect excuse to undermine even more the U.S.’s credibility, and even as he keeps a low profile on the matter, will use it to boost his agenda for the entire region.
For unlike Trump, Putin is a seasoned political warrior. He won’t hesitate to cash in the political benefits he may believe he’s earned with the president’s win, and in the background, continue to work intensely to reinstate Russia as a world dominant power as the U.S.S.R. used to be.
As for parallel world assumptions, it’s unlikely that President Obama would’ve resisted much longer the urge of igniting a full-fledged armed offensive over there. In actuality, he did accomplish almost the same effect – killing civilians – resorting only to drones. Clinton would sure have had her finger on the triggers too. And no one doubted that eventually Trump would get to it as well, but maybe not just that fast.
They’re all misguided, of course, as there will be no peaceful solution to Syria without hard and complex work, and willingness from the international community to support it. Arguably the hardest task would be to get the military to stand down – so good luck with that.
Syria has unfortunately earned the dubious notoriety of having become the world’s worst humanitarian tragedy. We should expect even more waves of grief, of millions of desperate refugees, political grandstanding in a planetary scale, and for-profit ugly displays of military macho.
The U.S. should take the lead not with weapons but with a comprehensive effort to evacuate and help find shelter to the refugees, because if we really care, our immediate priority should be the people, not the political quagmire. For that, there’s diplomacy at its highest level.
It’s Tax Week in the U.S., which means that over 120 million Americans are dutifully reporting their income, including immigrants, with or without papers, black families of those shot by the police, even few of those incarcerated in world record numbers. That would serve to fund healthcare for all, to better pay teachers and public servants, to lower education and housing costs, repair infrastructure, and to keep us safe.
But that’s ideally, for proportionally the lion’s share of it is diverted to fund unjust wars no one would vote for. Worst is that unlikely to be part of the above list is the president, his family, some mega-corporations, and a wealthy elite with the means to find exemption loopholes.
So let’s use this week, along with doing our civic duty that will benefit those we share the country with, to demand Trump to release at least 20 years worth of his income taxes. As he’s about to send more Americans abroad and to their graves, nothing could be more just than for him to set the example, and come clean about his wealth and business interests. Meanwhile, for the rest of us, here’s to a fat refund check. WC
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