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Bombs drop, refugees are left even more vulnerable

U.S. airstrikes on Syria reveal Trump’s hypocritical sympathies toward its people.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syria, on February 10, 2017. Assad recently appeared to be in his strongest position in years, but a suspected chemical changes everything. (Salampix/Abaca Press/TNS)

TNS

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syria, on February 10, 2017. Assad recently appeared to be in his strongest position in years, but a suspected chemical changes everything. (Salampix/Abaca Press/TNS)

Jorge Paniagua, Contributing Writer

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For those unaware, the U.S. military attacked a Syrian government airfield with nearly 60 Tomahawk missiles last Thursday.

The reason for the attack: President Donald Trump’s attitude toward Syria “changed” after coming to find that the Syrian president, Bashar Al-Assad, used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians – many of whom were children. As reported in an article by Alexander Smith for CNBC, Eric Trump said his father was “deeply affected” by the images of children being “sprayed down by hoses to keep their skin from burning.”

According to an article for The Guardian by writers Martin Chulov and Kareem Shaheen, at least 70 people were killed after being exposed to a toxic gas which was, presumably, dropped from warplanes in northwestern Syria. Footage of Syrian children suffocating after the gas attack went viral across social media platforms — which is where Trump, more than likely, witnessed what had actually occurred in the conflicted Middle Eastern nation.

Trump’s attack on Assad’s regime was praised by his supporters, and even some of his critics, for finally taking the initiative to directly strike Syrian forces. During former President Barack Obama’s term, the U.S. merely assailed the Islamic State rather than the actual government.

Yet, we must realize the hypocrisy of Trump and his administration. If our president truly wanted to help Syrian civilians, he’d provide refuge and freedom for them here in the U.S. — not increase violent military activity in Syria.

Furthermore, it’s necessary to understand that our president isn’t taking the steps necessary to end the Syrian conflict but may, both directly and indirectly, worsen matters.

As much as you may not want to, take a look back at what was said during Trump’s presidential campaign last year. The then-presidential candidate frequently denounced the idea of the U.S. being an interventionist nation in the international realm of affairs (“America First” should ring several bells).

For instance, last month U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley voiced the Trump administration’s interests to a small group of reporters by saying, “You pick and choose your battles and when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.”

Keep in mind, Trump has always been well aware of the kind of atrocities Assad has committed against the Syrian people since the conflict began in 2011. For example, the non-governmental organization Syrian Network for Human Rights reported that the Syrian regime had dropped nearly 13,000 barrel bombs in 2016 alone. The strikes resulted in a devastating total of 653 deaths — 166 children and 86 women.

Meanwhile, the Syrian war furiously progressed and Trump was passionately advocating for a ban on Syrian refugees throughout his 2016 campaign. From the very beginning of his campaign, Trump threatened to send any destitute refugees who legally migrated to the United States back to their war-stricken homeland. “I’m putting the people on notice that are coming from Syria,” said Trump in a September 2015 rally, “that if I win, if I win, they’re going back, they’re going back — I’m telling you.”

Now, is Trump breaking his apathetic campaign promise of barring refugees from entering the country by attacking Syria directly? No; however, his latest intervention in the Middle East reeks of deceitfulness. Let’s be completely realistic here — Trump bombing a single Assad-regime air base isn’t going to provide any significant help for the innocent Syrian civilians currently still living in the destroyed nation. It’s obvious — Assad’s atrocities against the Syrian people will surely continue. Moreover, the bloodshed, warfare and injustices will too — especially when those injustices are backed by a military powerhouse like Russia.

When asked why his ideology of “America First,” which was overwhelmingly predominant throughout his presidential campaign, changed so drastically by Wednesday night, Trump responded by saying: “It crossed a lot of lines for me,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. Many, many lines.”

The Syrian people have been subjected to air strikes, shootings, bombings, beheadings and chemical strikes for several years now. The “lines” should have been crossed long ago for Trump. We must understand that Trump is an offhand president — he went from campaigning against U.S. intervention in global affairs for over a year to suddenly deciding he wants to save Syria’s “children” by bombing a single airbase. His plan is surely bound to fail.

Trump needs to recognize that the Syrian civil conflict has evolved into a deadly proxy war with many powers at play. According to Business Insider, what once began as an issue between Assad’s government and rebels seeking to overthrow it — now includes Iranian troops, Hezbollah militants, a variety of militias, the Islamic State, Kurdish rebels, al-Qaeda, the Army of Islam, Russia and now — the United States.

Assad, by all means, must be removed from power. With that said, it must be done in a strategic and perceptive manner — one, which I’m convinced, cannot be executed by someone as impetuous as Trump or his incompetent administration.

If the president truly wants to help Syria’s innocent civilians — he’d provide shelter for refugees here in the U.S. and refrain from further complicating Syria’s proxy war.

 

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