“Mission accomplished.” President Trump’s much awaited tweet took the internet by storm. It’s the Bush Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction scandal all over again.
April 14, 2018 was just another day for the American, British and French people, but not for the innocent Syrian civilians, who were under an airstrike of 100 missiles, launched by the governments of the three nations mentioned above. This was a response to a chemical attack allegedly propelled by Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad and his military regime against the town of Douma, Syria.
This decision was justified by U.S. law, stating that the government has the right to automatically respond to terrorist groups that resemble those started by Al-Qaeda. Our feeds are not only being bombarded with headlines about the central issue, that of Douma’s calamity, but you will see Putin’s face here and there, with Russia’s involvement and stance on this military intervention being completely opposite of that of the U.S and its allies. Yet another remnant of the Cold War.
Coming from an Arabic background myself, I looked to the Syrian people’s reaction to the airstrike on their hometowns. I looked at each article and each video with as much neutrality as I could, and I willed myself to look at both sides. I was distraught, to say the least, about the lack of evidence that surrounds this action. These lawmakers, in whose hands rest the lives of millions of innocent civilians, are not even certain of the context of this attack. No concrete evidence has been published or presented to Congress.
There should have been an international, independent and neutral investigation around the circumstances of the chemical weapons use, carefully conducted by the UN, UNICEF or Amnesty International. Even the current U.S. secretary of defense James Mattis is not fully confident in his decision, using phrases such as “most likely” and “what is believed to be” in his statements, which the American public took for evidence. The question this raises is: if you want to deter weapon usage in a foreign country, wouldn’t you need to know who launched it first? Well, tell that to Mr. President.
It is rather shameful for a country that boasts its military excellence and innocuous intentions towards all nations of the world that this attack was not only completely and utterly unsuccessful, (despite what Trump’s tweets say). The attack was also destructive, unwarranted and amiss on all levels. There was no thorough investigation to determine who launched the initial chemical attack on Douma. Fingers were pointed directly at Syria’s current president Bashar Al-Assad, again with no evidence. When closely examining the U.S. attack policy on terrorist groups, the contradiction becomes clear. Instead of attacking Al-Assad, who, keep in mind, has been pretty mild-tempered about the American efforts to subdue him, maybe our Department of Defense should look at ISIS or Al-Qaeda’s influence in the country of Syria, the real enemies’ work.
Hypothetically, if Al-Assad did launch the chemical weapon attacks on his own people, the U.S.’s involvement is still unjustifiable. How can you condone helping victims of injustice and violence with more injustice and violence? You can’t, and you shouldn’t. Intervening in such crimes against humanity is not to be taken lightly, and examples from similar previous military interference reactions should constitute a learning platform for current decision-makers.
To attack weapon-making labs and ammunition centers is not the answer to ending this violation of human rights. And to do it with no specific proof suggest a kind of carelessness, which makes it all the much worse. If the American government cares deeply about the lives of Syrian civilians, they should take action in supporting the United Nations in becoming stronger and more neutral. America should finally pass the baton to an international organization to deal with international affairs more efficiently. After all, Trump is president of the U.S., not of the world.
Asmae Benzireg ’21 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is from Morocco. She majors in psychology.