The decision facing President Trump is daunting. The Commander-in-Chief must resolve whether to retaliate against Syria for once again deploying chemical weapons on his own people.
There are many issues at play. Trump and his advisors have a plethora of military options available to them. They may unleash several dozen cruise missiles on Syrian offensive targets, similar to the American response last year. The missiles, at that time, were supposed to destroy warplanes delivering poisonous gas to rebel-controlled areas. The mission was moderately successful, but it did not stop future chemical attacks by the Syrian regime.
The US might increase the number of missiles launched in an attempt to wreak more havoc on Syrians military assets such as airfields, anti-aircraft installations and even command and control facilities. The elimination of Syrian leadership could also be an objective.
The risks of increasing the response intensity are great. Bashar al-Assad is a coward who hides his army among civilians, so collateral damage will be much more significant in a larger attack.
Also Russia and Iran are scheming with the Syrian government. The probability of killing their soldiers and/or destroying their military assets will be higher if the attack is intensified, potentially creating a greater conflict and retaliation.
Previously the US warned Russia that an attack was imminent giving it an opportunity to protect ground troops, equipment and weapons. In any case escalation of hostilities that include Russia and Iran is definitely something to be concerned about.
Why is the US threatening Syria so soon after indicating that it would exit the ongoing conflict? Trump, like Obama, has drawn a line in the sand relating to Syrian war crimes. He indicated that using chemical agents and committing genocide against Syrian rebels would result in US military action. To preserve his reputation and that of the US, he may have no choice but to take action.
What’s more important is the responsibility of the US to come to the aid of people anywhere in the world that are subjected to crimes against humanity. Our country should not turn a blind eye to mass murder being perpetrated by the animal namrd Assad.
It’s highly unlikely that Russia will directly engage against the US and create a larger conflict, especially after the US gives its commanders a heads up about a retaliatory strike. And if Trump assembles a coordinated effort against Assad, the global community will laud the intent of the US. What’s puzzling is why Russia would intercede and protect Assad. Everyone in the Middle East despises the man. There is no upside for the Russians to become embroiled in a larger conflict.
Iran is a different story. Its regime specifically espouses turmoil that challenges American intervention in the region and all Sunni activity. A war-torn Syria is a favorable outcome for the despicable Iranian ayatollahs.
The Secretary of State designee, Mike Pompeo, who is currently head of the CIA, and John Bolton, the National Security Advisor, are hawks unafraid to use violence in lieu of diplomatic options. Yet their perspectives will likely help Trump make a measured decision because they will layout the ramifications of excessive action. Nevertheless it is difficult to see why the international community of nations would criticize a Syrian response given the actions by its leader and its military.
It is the duty of the US to meet those challenges that arise across the world when significant human rights are at stake. To walk away would be crime in and of itself and would encourage other murdering world leaders to follow the lead of Assad.