by Paul Gadalla
Rai Insights Contributor
Trump’s recent bombing in Syria has left many scratching their heads. Not only has it yielded no major changes in the Syrian equation it has left many stunned on the sudden about face the Trump administration has taken towards the Assad regime.
All throughout 2016, candidate and then president-elect Trump showered unwavering support on the Assad regime. Trump, following the typical American conservative position, made defeating the evils of Islamic terrorism a main tenant of his campaign and pointed fingers at Obama for creating ISIS. He would now stand with Russia and Syria on their fight of terrorism. The Syrian rebels were lumped together as a bunch of extremists and any crimes the Assad regime and Russia had committed were forgotten in the name of defeating the evil ISIS. Trump also promised to defeat ISIS although he never seemed to elaborate how he’d exactly annihilate an entire extremist organization that held large swathes of territory.
Judging by Trump’s lack of (or non-existent) military experience, no one would believe he’d be able to defeat the organization outright. His limited military endeavors in Yemen and Mosul both proved to be disastrous, killing many civilians.
This is why many were stunned that after a reported chemical attack by the Assad regime in northern Syria, Trump within did a sudden about-face, bombed Syria and disavowed the Assad regime. Fifty-nine missiles rained down upon the airfield near Homs where the chemical attack was carried out. The Trump’s administration believed Assad’s regime crossed a red line by using chemical weapons and according to Trump, he also did it in order to save innocent lives in Syria. Ironically, one of his own advisors said that the Trump administration had not changed its position on the Syrian regime meanwhile Trump told the press his position on Syria had changed.
And only a week later, Trump would hit Afghanistan with has been called the M.O.A.B. or Mother of All Bombs, a non-nuclear weapon nearly as strong as the atomic bomb. Once again it was done in the name of fighting ISIS with such a large bombing hitting a supposed network of tunnels used by ISIS.
And now tensions are rising in East Asia as a war of words is escalating between the US and the regime of North Korea. The US is supposedly losing patience as North Korea continues to test more long range missiles.
What do all these events have in common? Huge show of force and many civilian casualties. It seems Trump is hell bent on restoring US hegemony. He, much like his past conservative predecessors, are carrying out attacks in multiple countries under the thin guise of fighting vague specters like terrorism, helping innocent lives, and making the world more secure. It is stunning that Trump has not learned from the Bush years. As Obama recently noted in an interview, his choice not to go into Syria was based off the fact that the US could not sustain a prolonged presence there-especially since troops were already tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush’s wars in the region depleted the economy and military. It is almost to the point of hilarity that Trump is now claiming to act in the name of innocent lives in Syria when the dictator he had openly supported on the campaign trail had been accused of human rights violations for years not to mention he had used chemical weapons before. This time things are different. Gone is the era of one-man regimes in the Middle East like Saddam Hussein and Mouammar Al-Ghadafi. Both Russian and Iranian troops are present in Syria as are a number of paramilitary militias. Attempting to assert US dominance in such a country could cause an international conflict. Much the same is true of North Korea, which has China as a major ally. And then there is the ever-elusive group known as ISIS which is present in many countries. The group’s rise has been part of ongoing security vacuum in Arab states like Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. With Trump causing more casualties in Muslim majority countries he is only pushing marginalized Muslim communities right into ISIS’s hands. As we learned from the Bush years, bombing does not deter anything.
*Paul Gadalla is a New York native communication specialist and aspiring political analyst based in Beirut, Lebanon