I was recently asked by my school newspaper to answer how I felt about the American missile launch against Syria and I thought I would share my answers. I hope this correctly highlights how intellectually conflicted I am with how I feel about the situation.
Please define your identity on the political spectrum.
Conservative with libertarian leanings. Republican voter.
This attack on Syria by the US was in response to chemical warfare that killed Syrian civilians in a rebel held area. The US claims the Syrian government was behind this attack on their own civilians but Assad disclaims responsibility. Should we be involving ourselves at all? Why or why not?
I do believe that sending a strong message to the world that the United States is a serious geo-political actor is important and good. Thus, our international friends (i.e. allies) feel safe and our enemies fear retaliation if they harm us and/or our allies. The missiles were a targeted response against Bashar Al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons, which is internationally illegal and unethical.
However, I believe American foreign policy should be strategic and decisive in order to make sure we do not cause long-term damage. In recent times the Middle East has combusted in flames with the ousting of long-lasting leaders. These leaders in many cases were dictators and were not in the mold of liberal democratic leaders we prefer here in the Western Hemisphere, but they did keep threatening Islamic Radicals from gaining power in these countries. One of these stabilizing dictators is Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. He has been a long-time ally of Russia (who is not an ally of the U.S.) but Assad has never been out rightly hostile towards America and has protected and respected many of the minority communities in Syria. Plus, the missiles that the U.S. sent were in retaliation of Assad against acts he perpetrated during his own civil war in Syria, which is something that the U.S. was not involved in at all.
I do support a strong response of the U.S. when it comes to sending a message on the international stage that we will act if we need to. However, I would appreciate a deeper explanation from the Trump administration of what the end-goal is, because at this time we have heard Secretary of State Rex Tillerson say that there is “no role” for Assad to govern Syria. Tillerson’s statement opens up the opportunity for the U.S. to actively pursue regime change in Syria, which sounds a lot like nation building that has proven to fail (i.e. Iraq, Libya, Egypt). I do not approve of policing the world and spending American lives and dollars in the process.
Russia has since promised to back the Syrian government with military support and criticized the actions of the “unilateral” actions of the US. Were these actions worth risking relations with Russia?
The U.S. has always had rocky relations with Russia, so it is not surprising that Russia might be upset with us. Although, everything has to be considered when making foreign policy decisions Russia’s feelings should not be at the top of the list.
Multiple reports of civilian casualties including women and children by US missiles have been reported by sources outside of the US. Is it worth the risk?
I’m fairly certain that the reports of U.S. caused civilian casualties came from Russia and/or Syria. Therefore, it is not a reliable source and would be irresponsible to seriously consider and comment on.
Why was this action a positive response?
I believe my response to the first question covered how this is a positive and negative response.
Why was this action a negative response?
One of the many critiques on the global reaction to the crisis in Syria is that it has taken too long for the world to take considerable actions against Assad. Do you believe this action is overdue?
I believe the Syrian civil war was never in our interest or business to fight, but there was credible reports that there were moderate rebels we could have supported at early stages of the civil war. Now there are only two sides of the Syrian conflict: Assad or Islamic radical (i.e. ISIS, Al-Qaeda). Therefore, I do not believe action had to be taken ever.
Do you deem President Trump’s actions without the consent of Congress necessary or not? Why?
The action was not imminently necessary since the U.S. was not attacked, but it was a legal policy decision because the War Powers Act gives the President power to unilaterally authorize military missions that last less than 90 days.
Would you support a war against Syria and/or Russia? Why or why not?
No, because the American people do not have the fortitude or yearning for another war and showed that in the election of Donald Trump who did not support military intervention in Syria. Plus, I feel our country cannot afford another costly war that does nothing but create power vacuums for our enemies to take advantage of (i.e. Iraq, Libya, Egypt).