Our president, after seeing something upsetting on television, instructed the military to launch a symbolic missile strike against a target in Syria. Admittedly, no one in Trump’s position could have watched the terrifying scenes he witnessed without being moved to action. Horrifying footage of the House Intelligence Committee chairman resigning would stir a response from any leadership figure hoping to conceal their ties to the Russian leadership.
So, after first communicating the details of our planned action to the Russians so the strike would be meaningless (!??WTF??!), Trump cleared the military to put on a fireworks display in Syria. Cable news figures, while struggled to avoid electrocution from drooling into their microphones, described the smoke and light show as “decisive.” What was “decided” remains unclear and utterly irrelevant.
At an abstract level, should the US leverage its overwhelming diplomatic, economy and military power to remove the Assad regime from power? Yes. That answer was clear to the Obama Administration when they proposed to take action in 2013, only to be blocked by Republicans. Why should we do this? Among other reasons, because we will be forced to do it eventually anyway. With every day that passes, that ‘eventually’ becomes more bloody, expensive, and destabilizing. Few places in the world are so inconsequential to global affairs that they can fall into this level of bloodshed without creating meaningful global impacts. Syria is not one of those places.
On a practical level, taking into account the current condition of the US government, can we intervene in Syria toward any remotely positive end? Of course not. We can debate the relative merits of a potential strategy or policy all day long, but it just doesn’t matter anymore. Whether you’re talking about health care, tax reform, Syria, or anything else, all policy questions have been rendered irrelevant by Trump’s win.
The people who govern our country now are fairly good at enriching themselves through corruption, and lousy at almost everything else. Syria is a challenge that would have stumped the most nearly-competent figures in the Bush II Administration. Now Rick Perry will be sitting on the National Security Council. Led by these idiocrats, we’ll be lucky if our bombs fall in the right country.
Syria, like so many other complex policy questions, demonstrates one singular fact – Trump has to be removed from office as soon as possible. There is only one public policy problem that matters in the United States right now, and its name is Donald Trump.
In case it matters someday, here are a few policy pieces on Syria and US foreign intervention. If nothing else, they may help explain why your humble blogger was a Republican for so long.
First, from almost four years ago, why intervention is Syria is practically unavoidable:
“Will the new regime in Syria be worse than Assad? Probably not, but we cannot dictate that outcome. What is definitely worse than either the Assad regime or the regime that might follow is an extended period of ethnic and religious slaughter on NATO’s southern border and Israel’s northern border. The longer the conflict continues, the greater the odds that a new regime will be just as dangerous as the old one.”
A wider look at US interventions, beyond the most flashy and memorable examples:
“Those who deny the power of American diplomatic and military engagement to bring positive outcomes in the world are fighting against the tide of history. Those who convince themselves that American military power is always a positive force are making the same mistake. We need to develop a better sense of what kind of involvement can be successful, what success means, and how to place necessary moral and legal bounds on foreign actions. We’ve only been working on this question for about two hundred years, so maybe we’re almost there.”
And finally, a look at the only truly dangerous foreign policy threat we face as the world’s sole super-power, chaos:
“Terrorism, Ebola, mass immigration of unaccompanied minors – these are all essentially the same problem. Pockets of anarchy created by the collapse of poorly adapted institutions can be the birthing ground of new, freer, more liberal institutions. Or they can become poison factories. For those of us in rising Asia and the traditional West, decisions we make about how and when to intervene in these evolutionary episodes will grow increasingly complex and consequential as the world shrinks and only the hard cases remain to be worked out.”