There are two groups expressing vocal outrage in response to U.S. attacks on targeted Syrian locations last night – President Trump’s political opponents on the left whose hypocrisy in this matter is stunning and, of greater concern to the president, many of Trump’s supporters who had hoped he would finally put an end to U.S. military engagement across the globe.
The former have no beef after allowing their savior, B. Hussein Obama to create the Syrian mess, without voicing their opposition to Obama’s military incursion at that time. Their voices will diminish significantly when their representatives are jettisoned from Congress in the midterms after the DOJ’s Inspector General exposes their roles in the use of the executive branch by an Obama led criminal conspiracy to fix the 2016 election. The full report is expected to be released in May.
Trump’s supporters who consider last night’s military response to be a betrayal of his campaign promise to them to avoid foreign entanglements are more concerning. They are not wrong.
Nor, are they necessarily right. We live in a complicated world.
Their concerns that he lied to them and he is another in a long line of military interventionists is a rightful concern and is deserving of a watchful eye.
However, taken in the context of the strategic alliances that the president is trying to forge across the broader Middle East – largely as a hedge against Iranian hegemony – his decision to launch a limited airstrike might be forgivable. Emphasis on might.
As President Trump’s recent decision to reconsider U.S. re-entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership reveals, there is a world outside of our borders that we have to deal with. If we don’t others are waiting to take our place. In the case of the TPP, that would be China.
The foundations for these conditions were laid decades ago and nurtured by a succession of presidents that now leave Trump with limited options. When it comes to trade he can drive a harder bargain but he can’t ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room.
He finds himself similarly constrained in the Middle East as even a precursory look at a map reveals:
While Trump was correct about not invading Iraq in 2002, this is not then. Saddam Hussein was a strongman who stood guard against Iran’s ambitions of controlling the wider Middle East. The result of Bush and Obama’s mishandling of Iraq have ceded control of the keystone nation to Iran. Control of Iraq provides the gateway to Syria.
That would complete the crescent and that, in turn would solidify Iran’s growing hegemony and put them in strong position to threaten Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Kuwait, Jordan and Israel among other nations now allied because of Donald Trump’s vision, efforts and assurances.
These are the nations, you might remember, that Trump met with in May of last year when he made his historic trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican. In all, there were close to sixty Arab leaders present at that summit and Trump came away with an agreement to forge a coalition for economic development and a common defense against Iran.
Keep in mind that economic security and military security go hand in hand. And, America’s economy is now tethered, at least in part, to the economic fortunes of our Middle East allies.
Blocking Iran’s hegemonic appetite should also give comfort to India, another regional ally threatened by its neighbors. India too is a major trade partner that was likely reassured by the commitment America projected last night.
This brings us full circle back to last night’s targeted airstrikes. If Trump’s decision to proceed with the attack was formed by intelligence gleaned from the appropriate agencies of these allied nations, he may have weighed the importance of proving our commitment to the May 2017 agreement they had forged, regardless of the possibility that Syrian strongman Bashir Assad might not have been the person who ordered the use of the chemical weapons.
If the airstrikes are limited to destroying the chemical weapons storage and development sites, and the ability to deliver them, regardless of who deployed them in the past that is a good thing and a worthy strategic objective.
If the president, either knowingly or unwittingly, allowed himself to be coerced into serving as ISIS’ air force, then that puts him in league with Obama and that betrayal would be unforgivable.
While everyone rushes to judgment that the president isn’t whom he promised he would be, it might me appropriate to see how things play out over the next few months before throwing their president overboard.
There’ll be plenty of time to decide whether Trump has become an interventionist before we can do something about it, anyway.