It’s true. I’m stuck in the 70’s. Who could forget the Dramatics singing on Soul Train, wearing suits that were as colorful as a Unicorn.
But it’s hard not to remember this song when thinking of Donald Trump.
“Some people are made of plastic….Some people have hearts of stone. Some people are up to no good. ” The message of the song was the importance of being transparent. With our politicians, it is essential that voters can rely on them to do what they promise when campaigning. If we vote for someone, ostensibly it is because of what they stand for. We like what they say, and want their positions reflected in policy decisions when they are elected. With Donald Trump, we NEVER know what we will get. I didn’t vote for him, and if I were in charge, the United States would have taken action against Assad long ago.
We have seen photos of dead children for over four years. Assad has gone unrepentant for years. He continues to rely on chemical weapons without regard to the children he slaughters. Since 2011 he is responsible for the genocide in Syria, killing more than 400,000 people. The war has driven half of Syrians from their homes, creating the world’s worst refugee crisis.
During the campaign, Trump was insistent on staying out of Syria. EIGHTEEN TIMES HE SAID WE SHOULD NOT BOMB SYRIA! He even said he was open to supporting Assad.
Trump now says Assad’s actions can’t be tolerated. On Wednesday Trump said that actions of Assad, that were the same as his murder of civilians since 2011, had ‘crossed a lot of lines.”
President Trump has now launched a cruise missile attack on Assad in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons that killed 86 people, 27 of whom were children.
In 2013, Obama planned to use land-attack cruise missiles launched from Navy destroyers cruising off shore from Syria. For weeks, the Navy had four destroyers floating off shore, waiting for the order to strike that never came. Instead Assad agreed to turn over his stockpiles of chemical weapons.
Trump has previously urged the United States to support Assad against rebel groups fighting him, many of which are aligned with al-Qaeda. In 2013, he criticized Obama for contemplating strikes without getting congressional approval. Yet Trump ordered this airstrike without Congressional approval.
Clearly the attack by America is viewed as an act of war on Syria. The Syrian army said the U.S. attack killed six people at its air base near the city of Homs. It called the attack “blatant aggression” and said it made the United States a “partner” of “terrorist groups” including Islamic State. Homs Governor Talal Barazi told Reuters the death toll was seven.
A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said the strike had seriously damaged ties between Washington and Moscow. Putin, a staunch ally of Assad, regarded the U.S. action as “aggression against a sovereign nation” on a “made-up pretext,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
U.S. officials took pains to ensure that Russian troops were not killed. Trump warned Russian forces in advance. Trump avoided striking parts of the base where Russians were present. It is difficult not to consider the possibility that Trump’s action was motivated by the investigation into his ties to Russia. By launching the attack, but warning Russia in advance, he creates the impression he is adverse to Russia’s allies, but concurrently protects Russian military.
Further, U.S. officials and allies described the attack as a one-off that would not lead to further escalation. It signaled Trump’s determination to take “decisive action,” U.S. officials said.
What’s crucial here is that Trump’s justification for launching the strike isn’t to end the Syrian civil war, or even to slow down Assad’s killing of his country’s civilians. It is a “targeted” strike designed as punishment for one specific crime: the use of chemical weapons.
The core problem with any proposed plan for intervention against Assad has always been the risk that it could get wildly out of hand, dragging the US deeper into the Syrian conflict than it was prepared to go and potentially making the already incredibly complex and bloody war even worse. Any serious intervention in Syria also carried the very real risk of killing Russian soldiers, who are in Syria helping Assad, thus potentially sparking conflict with a powerful, nuclear-armed enemy.
The stated goal isn’t to stop the bloodshed in Syria, but rather to send a message to Assad (and potentially other rogue states) that chemical weapons use is out of bounds. However the real message, the alternative fact may well be, that Donald Trump is trying to send a message to the American people that he is not in bed with Russia. Headlines today seem to have been diverted from the probe into Trump’s ties with Putin and Russia. Instead Trump is positioning himself as the protector of the children. The sad thing is that he isn’t protecting the children in America. He is supporting the withdrawal of regulations to protect kids from lead paint. Trump is advocating the withdrawal of funding (1.2 Billion Dollars) for after-school care for children. Trump’s education budget not only attacks programs that help low-income children; it also hurts students and educators across the board by cutting money to reduce class sizes, provide professional development to teachers, and limits funding for college for deserving students. He has reversed rules designed to protect transgender kids. While bombing Syria, Trump has limited immigration of Syrian refugees to the United States and separated immigrant children from their mothers.