Saturday, 8 April 2017

Making It Up As We Go Along

A New "Red Line"

Ah, a week is an aeon in politics.  All of a sudden we have a Trump doctrine of war.  The US will unleash deadly fire on any nation which breaches international treaties banning certain weapons.  The US will act unilaterally on behalf of the "civilized nations of the world".  

Would it be appropriate to recall Trump's campaign rhetoric where he excoriated Obama's use of military force?  It's all gone up in smoke.  One gets the sinking feeling that the US use of armed force is going to become more and more common as Trump defends "civilization" and attacks things that make him really mad.  It's all personal now.

Will it change the situation in Syria?  Who knows.  Unlikely.  Does the United States and so other "civilized nations" have a coherent plan?  A strategy?  Or will it just be made up as the world goes along.

We take some comfort from the confined and targeted nature of the strike.
 We appreciate the attempt to destroy military hardware and infrastructure, rather than attack human beings.  But is it likely to be consistently followed?  How many more such attacks will be required throughout the world when innocent people suffer and die from artillery attacks or bombings--because, after all, they will involve the deaths of non-combatants and innocents?  And if the United States is not consistent out into the future, why did it act in this way on this occasion?

The NY Times has published the following rationale for the action:
WASHINGTON — President Trump said Thursday night that the United States had carried out a missile strike in Syria in response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack this week, which killed more than 80 civilians.

“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air base in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” Mr. Trump said in remarks at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

Mr. Trump — who was accompanied by senior advisers, including Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist; Reince Priebus, his chief of staff; his daughter Ivanka Trump; and others — said his decision to act had been prompted in part by what he called the failures of previous efforts by the world community to respond effectively to the Syrian civil war.

“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed, and failed very dramatically,” the president said, referring to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. “As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen, and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.”  . . . 
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson is scheduled to arrive in Moscow on Tuesday. Administration officials said the strike was intended to put Mr. Tillerson in a position to tell the Russians that they should use their leverage to ensure that Mr. Assad’s government does not carry out more chemical weapon strikes and to facilitate a diplomatic resolution to the civil war in Syria.
So far the rhetoric and rationale is drawing the Red Line at the use of banned chemical weapons.  Let's hope it stops there.  Let's hope there is no creeping of that line.

No comments: