Early last week, President Donald Trump's administration began a round of airstrikes on Syria. Syria, with years of civil war and human rights atrocities under the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, is a center of instability in the Middle East.
As a result, Syria has become a dangerous region that pushed millions of refugees to flee into Europe to escape the violence that has become a daily occurrence.
The Trump administration’s response, naturally, was to add another level of violence with no purpose aside from what appears to be an overblown publicity stunt. However, Trump's supporters can finally say that he has “done something” about the Syrian issue—he recognized that he has the power to drop bombs on Syria.
During one of the airstrikes earlier last week, a mosque was destroyed by the bombs and around 40 civilians were killed. These were the same civilians the airstrikes were intended to protect and “free” from the grip of al-Assad.
Human Rights Watch, a group that conducts research on and advocates for human rights, has criticized the United States for bombing the area on the unsubstantiated grounds that al-Qaida meetings were hosted in the local mosque. A lack of oversight in favor of premeditated action led to the loss of lives in an already unstable environment. There will be no repercussions for anyone who green-lit the attack. Apparently, asymmetrical warfare does not need to play by the Geneva Convention.
If this is the form of reactionary policy U.S. citizens should expect to see over the next four years, they will also have to wonder how this administration may react to other nations the United States has poorer relations with, such as Iran and North Korea, whose own recent military experimentations have raised worried eyebrows across the globe.
Every region with which the US has previously had unstable relations is now at even higher risk for useless violence done simply in the name of appealing to a voter base full of people who are convinced that the only solution to war is to incite more conflict. The only possible comfort is that this conflict was wrapped in the milieu of interventionism.
The original claim for beginning strikes in Syria—that al-Assad’s use of chemical weaponry had crossed some arbitrary red line in warfare—essentially proved to be futile when no chemical weapons seemed to be targeted. Parroting rhetoric especially became clear when the administration announced the initial strikes did nothing to alleviate the conflict in the region.
Illegal weaponry is what makes this administration take some level of decisive action without creating mass displacement of civilians or participating in Russian geopolitical games. One can only wonder how the Syrian issue would look if it were applied to any other nation.
It is as if the state-building mistakes of former President George W. Bush were forgotten. It is as if the United States had not committed actions that could be constituted as war crimes in its own Middle Eastern escapades.
This has become a recurring trend in U.S. policies that apply to the Middle East. Proponents can say that at least officials have created some kind of illusion of rebuilding countries that need external aid. It is a sense of Western-style paternalism that eventually ruins state-building schemes and further enables destabilization in war-torn regions.
Governments are left unorganized, religious nuances are ignored in favor of monolithic assumptions and no one cares. There is no point in even attempting some sort of rebuilding process. The U.S. strategy has devolved completely—hurt people have become nothing more than statistics and destroyed towns are just to be expected.
This is the beginning of a pattern of destruction initiated by the misguided interventionist policies that the United States has been playing with since the Bush years. The difference now is the magnification of force and the reduction of any attempted justifications.
Under the so-called leadership of a president whose mind wanders to his golf courses rather than to his policies or even to the country he pretends to lead, the rest of the world is only being shown that any ideals the United States may have previously held are now dead and buried. If anything, the only motivation to take any action appears to be boredom mixed with a desperate need to appeal to idealistic, exasperated voters who were lied to from the get-go.
Reuven Glezer is a sophomore studying Literary Form and Writing. He is a frequent contributor to The Ticker and an editor for Refract Magazine.