I was willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt over what he was up to in Syria, but if he actually intends to put America on a path to war over the use of chemical weapons in Syria then he had better go to Congress before he takes another step. I thought I would check with The Diplomad to see what he thought and this is what he wrote last Friday in a post titled On Syria: The Morning After.
Now to some basics. I have written before wondering why it is that death by gas strikes us as more horrific than, say, death by napalm or by a .223 round. As I noted in the just linked piece which I wrote almost four years ago,
Despite the temptation, the US did not use gas against well-entrenched Japanese troops in the Pacific, even when gas likely could have saved many American lives. FDR did not want to be known as the President who used gas–he, of course, was developing an atomic bomb . . .
We wouldn’t use gas against Japan but used two atomic bombs to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to mention burning nearly all of their other cities to the ground, and flushing their troops out of caves with flame throwers–all justifiable, by the way.
Would we have bombed Assad, if he had merely used conventional explosives delivered by either artillery or aircraft to kill 80 civilians? Are those killed by gas more dead than those killed by explosives? Last July, vacationers in the beautiful French city of Nice were attacked by a jumped up jihadi driving a large truck; he killed over 80 persons. I saw no visible French retaliation against the Muslim world or truck makers.
OK, I don’t want to push this too far, but let me just conclude with a question: Is Assad, despicable as he is, and his alleged use of gas a threat to the United States? We, as noted above, will all have to decide, I guess.
Theresa May has also waded in since she has similar concerns: Split opens between Washington and London over Syria after Theresa May refused to back new strikes on Assad.
Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser HR McMaster and his ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley have both warned the US is “prepared to do more” to enforce an international red line on chemical weapons.
But Downing Street refused to back President Trump’s tough stand when repeatedly pressed today.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman would only say the question was “hypothetical”, adding: “Our focus is on building international support for a political solution to end the conflict and bring lasting peace and stability to Syria”.
No10 also said Theresa May has no plans to go back to the House of Commons to ask for approval for the UK to stand alongside the US and join future strikes on Assad.
A vote by MPs in December 2015 only authorises the RAF to join attacks on ISIS in Syria.
That is a war aim I understand. What is possibly the most ridiculous part of what is happening is that these actions, which are in themselves senseless and without strategic purpose, are popular in the United States and have Democrat support.
UPDATE: In light of all of this, it is very pleasing to find the American Secretary of State reiterating the same points made by Theresa May, and found in a longer and astonishing discussion of what is going on in an article at The Conservative Treehouse on Recording of Secretary Kerry Admitting President Obama Armed Extremists in Syria – And Now Secretary Tillerson and President Trump are Dealing With Consequences…... This is a direct quote from Tillerson.
So it’s to defeat ISIS; it’s to begin to stabilize areas of Syria, stabilize areas in the south of Syria, stabilize areas around Raqqa through ceasefire agreements between the Syrian regime forces and opposition forces. Stabilize those areas; begin to restore some normalcy to them. Restore them to local governance — and there are local leaders who are ready to return, some who have left as refugees — they’re ready to return to govern these areas.
Use local forces that will be part of the liberation effort to develop the local security forces — law enforcement, police force. And then use other forces to create outer perimeters of security so that areas like Raqqa, areas in the south can begin to provide a secure environment so refugees can begin to go home and begin the rebuilding process.
In the midst of that, through the Geneva Process, we will start a political process to resolve Syria’s future in terms of its governance structure, and that ultimately, in our view, will lead to a resolution of Bashar al-Assad’s departure.
How bad Obama has been for the West and our survival will never be fully known but the bits are coming out and Trump may yet make the needed difference.