On April 7, the Pentagon announced that the United States had launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles targeted at an airbase in Homs, Syria.
The launch was in response to the Syrian government attacking their own civilians with poison gas three days earlier, which was confirmed by the U.S. government. The missiles were aimed at the airbase where the attack originated.
In June 2014, the Syrian government claimed the last chemical weapons they possessed were shipped out of the country. Syria notified the United Nations that they had complied with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2018, to destroy all chemical weapons and production facilities.
Dean and professor of the college of liberal arts and sciences, Jennifer Walsh, Ph.D., commented in regards to President Trump’s contradicting opinions on Syrian involvement.
“President Trump’s decision to use force was an emotional response to a horrific human tragedy,” Walsh said. “It contradicted his previous stated position to not get involved in the Syrian civil war. Although the scope was limited this time, Trump’s willingness to change his political stance on Syrian involvement raises many questions about his willingness to change his mind on other positions and his willingness to get involved in other Middle East conflicts.
Chair and professor of the department of history and political science at APU, Daniel Palm, Ph.D., provided insight regarding the role of the U.S. in the Syrian crisis.
“The president has this question: what to do when chemical weapons are used?” Palm said. “There is significant agreement and there had been for most of the 20th century that since WWI a hundred years ago… That led to agreements after WWI. International agreements that nations would limit or not use chemical weapons. And that sort of extended to biological weapons, as well.”
The action by the U.S. has received bipartisan support in Congress. The U.S. put the Syrian government on notice: should another chemical weapons attack take place, the U.S. will take a much more aggressive action to permanently rid this threat.
The attack stemmed from a significant flaw in the lack of honesty and transparency within their government in 2014. That dishonesty lead to a corrupt system of government and jeopardized relationships with other nations.
Chemical weapons should not be an option on the battlefield under any circumstance. The fact that the Syrian government still possesses these weapons and is willing to use them is very troubling from a moral viewpoint.
“There is a certain broad humanitarian sense in what should be done when chemical weapons are used and there is significant civilian loss of life,” Palm said. “This particular president opted to use military force to make a point that the use of chemical weapons in this conflict did not go unnoticed and was unappreciated by the United States.”
Nazi Germany was an oppressed nation under Hitler’s rule from 1933 through 1945. The killing of six million Jewish people during WWII has a haunting correlation with innocent Syrian civilians being killed by their own government.
“It was not necessarily [an] attempt to make the definitive [future’s] use of those weapons not going to happen,” Palm said. “It was to make a point that it is clearly noticed, and it got the attention of the United States and that the President wanted to make it clear that to [their] response… there’s consequence.”
There are over 470,000 casualties of the Syrian civil war and over seven million people are displaced. If the United States remains on the sideline in the Syrian crisis, aren’t we disregarding a humanitarian responsibility to save innocent lives?