Dear Donald –
Last night, you decided to launch an air strike on an airfield in western Syria, supposedly the launch point for the recent sarin gas attack by government forces in that country. You said it was in the vital national security interests of the United States to prevent the spread of chemical weapons and condemned prior international efforts as inadequate to address the problem of Assad’s leadership.
I remember coming home from dinner 16 years ago and seeing another Republican president addressing the nation saying he had ordered a missile strike on another Middle Eastern country – an attack he said was designed to stop the spread of dangerous chemical and biological weapons. He said it was in the vital security interests of the United States and the world to do something and that the international community had clearly failed at dealing with this dictator. He ended up manufacuting an excuse to invade the country and, sixteen years and thousands of lives later, we still have troops in the country and it has devolved into ongoing sectarian violence.
Syria is, to be fair, different than Iraq. Whereas Iraq was, by most measures, a stable country, Syria has spent the last seven years embroiled in a deadly, and convoluted civil war. There is the government, propped up by Russia, non-sectarian rebel groups seeking a democratic government, sectarian rebel groups looking to overturn Asssad and install theocratic government, Iranian backed rebel groups, and ISIL, among others. It is a war with constantly shifting alliances and no easy answers about who is right and who is wrong and he best way to ensure peace.
It’s one reason why the U.S., until now, has been hesitant to get involved. There’s no clear solution to the Syria problem, and it seems perfectly designed to drain resources indefinitely and embroil any participants in an impossible quagmire. It’s also setting up as a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia, with Putin preferring to prop up the Assad regime and the U.S., until recently, had placed the preotection of human rights as a primary feature of its foreign policy, meaning support of the overthrow of Assad and installation of a liberal democracy.
The best way forward has always seemed to be to establish no fly zones and safe zones within Astro to protect innocents and refugees, while providing protection and safe passage to those attempting to flee the country. Then, provide them haven in other countries, including the U.S., until the situation settles down. You don’t seem to be endnotes with that approach.
Deep American involvement in the country, particularly a military intervention that has the potential to drain time, resources, and support at home and abroad, would serve only to weaken the U.S. and it’s international reputation – an outcome that only furthers Putin’s interests. It’s part of the reason Russia sought to put its thumb on the scale in the election. They believed that you were much more likely to take action without thinking through the consequences and destabilize the geopolitical order.
Don’t live up to the expectations.
You’ve already sent one American soldier to his death on a fool’s errand. Don’t repeat that mistake thousands of times over.