BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
Many Americans and people around the world followed with great concern the off-the-cuff and zany ideas Donald Trump voiced during the presidential campaign and more ominously after becoming President.
It is one thing to disagree with him on a domestic policy issue like banning Muslim tourists or healthcare or building a wall, it is quite another when he issues threats to foreign countries such as Iran and North Korea, and even worse when he orders a missile attack on Syria!
What is wrong with such a disastrous decision? Pres. Trump does not have the requisite background knowledge about the Syrian conflict, except for what he has read in some fringe publications and seen on his favorite TV Channel, FOX News.
Pres. Trump stated that he was deeply touched by the images of babies he had seen on TV who had been hurt by a chemical attack. Who would not be? Certainly, he had an emotional and impulsive reaction to heart-wrenching pictures, which cannot be a substitute for a well-thought out foreign policy without a thorough examination of the facts of this tragic incident and careful consideration of the consequences of an extreme action like launching 59 tomahawk missiles on a Syrian air base.
Fortunately, Pres. Trump’s aides alerted Russia shortly before the attack, to avoid any Russian casualties which could have had catastrophic consequences for the entire world!
Furthermore, Pres. Trump’s actions violated the U.S. Constitution, as he neither sought nor received the legally required authorization from the U.S. Congress to launch a war on another sovereign state.
Pres. Trump had neither the wisdom nor the patience to wait for the outcome of the investigation of the circumstances of the chemical attack — to verify who is truly responsible for this terrible attack.
The Trump Administration accused the Syrian Air Force of carrying out a chemical attack near Idlib. The Syrian and Russian governments have a different version of these events. They affirm that Syria does not possess any chemical weapons after its 2003 agreement to dispose of all such hazardous materials. Furthermore, Syria claims that the chemical explosion was caused by its Air Force bombing a warehouse belonging to Syrian terrorists who had stored these dangerous materials. It makes no sense for Pres. Assad to use chemical weapons while he is winning, risk antagonizing the West, and precipitating a military backlash.
We recall that back in 2013, there was another chemical attack on a Damascus suburb that killed many more people than the one near Idlib. Back then, Pres. Obama was close to going to war with Syria wrongly believing that the Syrian government had crossed his announced “red line.” However, when he learned that the chemical attack near Damascus was a “false flag,” meaning that it was orchestrated by Turkey and its terrorist allies to force the United States to intervene militarily in Syria, Pres. Obama did not go through with his plans to launch missiles on Syria. No one should forget that U.S. officials in 2003 presented fake “intelligence” evidence to the world claiming that Pres. Saddam Hussein possessed WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction), to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Ironically, many Republican members of Congress who are now applauding Pres. Trump for his decision to attack Syria, back then were the most vocal critics of Pres. Obama for planning a similar attack. Furthermore, even though the 2013 chemical attack killed many more people and babies, Donald Trump issued 40 tweets urging Pres. Obama not to attack Syria. Trump did not seem to care about “beautiful little Syrian babies” back then, as he is claiming now!
Both the White House and many self-declared pundits in the American media, who have made up the most outrageous lies about Syria in the last six years, are now claiming that eliminating the use of chemical weapons in Syria is in the U.S. national interest. They also affirm that the chemical weapons are banned by international treaty and their use is a violation of international law.
While acknowledging the truth of these statements, one has to ask:
1) Why no investigation was carried out of the chemical attack, prior to the U.S. Missile launch?
2) Under what right Pres. Trump has appointed himself the arbiter of international law and policeman of the world? International law, by definition, is an issue touching all countries, not just the United States. The proper venue to investigate, condemn and punish such violations of international law is the United Nations Security Council, not the White House. Furthermore, attacking a sovereign nation is itself a violation of international law!
3) By attacking Syria and destroying its military planes, Pres. Trump has in fact emboldened and strengthened the ISIS terrorists to continue and expand their criminal acts in Syria and around the world, particularly when they see that each time they use chemical weapons, the West accuses Pres. Assad for it and attacks Syria. Furthermore, by weakening and replacing Pres. Assad, Pres. Trump risks causing chaos and terrorism similar to Iraq and Libya, leading to many more deaths! Who will replace Pres. Assad and what guarantees are there that his replacement will not be ISIS, resulting in not just 80 deaths as in the recent chemical attack, but additional million casualties on the top of the half a million deaths in the Syrian conflict in recent years? The last thing the Syrian people need is more attacks and more bloodshed. What they need is painstaking diplomatic effort to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
All those in the U.S. and around the world who were concerned that Pres. Trump would make reckless decisions and endanger international peace, have regrettably witnessed the first such incident within the first 100 days of his Presidency. Everyone now fears that more such saber-rattling and unwarranted destabilizing attacks will take place in the coming weeks and months in other parts of the world. One hopes that Pres. Trump did not initiate the attack on Syria simply to distract attention away from many of his domestic problems, as he has done repeatedly on other issues in recent weeks!
Finally, what happened to Pres. Trump’s repeated brash statements about “America First,” and “I am the President of the United States, not the President of the world”?