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Trump bears his teeth

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It’s really a no-win situation:  chemical weapons attributed to the Assad regime in Syria are used against a civilian population, and all the world’s eyes turn to the United States to set an example.  What was President Trump to do?  If he did nothing and fulfilled his campaign promise of not getting involved in wars in foreign wars the left and neoconservatives would have screamed with righteous indignation over the so-called normalization of chemical weapons for the next 4 years, just as Obama refused to intervene after the embattled Syrian president crossed his infamous “red line”.

Instead, he chose to retaliate by destroying the airfield that the gas attack was launched from.  Unsurprisingly, many of his supporters (especially the visible ones) have jumped on him for going back on his word; did those missiles signal a shift away from the promise to avoid costly and pointless foreign conflicts?  Is the near 100 million dollars that those tomahawks cost in total wasted, when it could have been used for so many other things?

With all the doom say and endless punditry since those 59 missiles were launched, I think it’s probably best to take it at face value:  a tit-for-tat retaliation against a country for breaking international law on chemical weapons.  A pentagon official has said “We’ve laid down a marker.  No more chemical weapons attacks, period.  There will be consequences.  Our president is showing his American conscience, and if anyone provokes him they will regret it.” (1) Statements like this show it’s not going to escalate into a full scale conflict, but at the same time warns of punishment to those who dare use chemical weapons.

I’m on the fence.  I don’t want the United States pulled into another stupid useless conflict halfway across the world.  At the same time, if you allow atrocities to be committed while having the ability to stop them, what does it say about the values of Americans and their president?  Ultimately Trump’s decision might be the best one to appease both sides:  Just enough to deter future chemical attacks, but not enough to get involved in their war.

(1) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4388834/ America-launches-airstrikes-Syria.html

 

Matthew Horwath, Bethlehem, PA

 

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