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Did the strike on Syria make war more or less likely?

by Greg Krehbiel on 7 April 2017

I don’t want another stupid war in the Middle East.

The older I get, the more I like my outlandish suggestion at the lunch table in high school, which was to build a huge dome over the Middle East with an oil pipeline coming out and arms going in. Once they sort things out among themselves we can take the dome down and welcome them into the community of civilized people. (Of course I’m not serious.)

It’s not worth our time or money — and certainly not worth more U.S. lives — to try to impose democracy on them, or civilize them. Even God quit sending prophets to these people.

I think our missiles go for about $1 million a piece, so Trump’s strike cost us about $60 million. We killed a few Syrians working at the airfield, which is a shame. They were just guys doing a job. But the world is not a gentle place, and we can’t be afraid of spilling a little blood from time to time.

Also, we sent a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. I suspect that the lunatics in North Korea took notice, as did the Chinese president. That may have been the more important message here.

Two things trouble me. The first is all this certainty that it really was the Assad regime that used chemical weapons. Maybe it was, and maybe they have some clear evidence to prove it, but … it doesn’t make much sense.

What possible motivation does Assad have to use chemical weapons? It’s the one thing he could do to mobilize the civilized world against him. And he doesn’t need that.

It seems more plausible to me that this was a trick by his enemies to get us to help them against Assad.

But … what do I know? I don’t get the daily briefings, so maybe Assad really is an idiot and crossed that line for his own stupid reasons.

In any event, Trump has shown that he’s not going to sit on his hands and ponder about things, and that may be good for the world.

The second thing that troubles me is whether Trump should have checked with Congress before the strike. I don’t like the precedent we’ve set, that the president can bomb people at will.

2017-04-07  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 7

  1. Scott Wicker
    7 April 2017 @ 4:35 pm

    Trump’s attack against Syria was foolhardy. To begin with, why is he so sure that Assad used chemical weapons? Why this escalation toward WWIII? At least it will detract from his failures on the domestic front.

  2. smitemouth
    7 April 2017 @ 5:03 pm

    I won’t say whether it was wise or not. Honestly, time will tell.

    But questions to ask are…

    1) On what Intel did he base making the attacks? He said our intelligence agencies are crap and corrupt. Did he watch Hannity and decide? Sure, people were gassed we think. But, how do we know Assad did it?

    2) As for Assad, my Patriarch thinks he is the lesser of the other evils, so I go with him. The devil you know… There aren’t any good guys over there to support. When the revolution broke out, the “good guys” (not ISIS) were looting churches with big smiles on their faces.

    3) Trump gave the Russians a heads up of 60-90 minutes. I don’t necessarily object to that and it could help avoid escalation. But, Why were Russian troops on a base that supposedly had chemical weapons on it?

    4) Did Trump or any of his family or cronies buy long on Raytheon stock? It went up. They produce the Tomahawks. The Navy will have to buy some more to replace them.

    5) What’s Trump going to shoot this weekend? Sub 100? Sub 90?

    $60 million isn’t too much–the same cost as just a few weekends for the taxpayers to pay for him to be at Mar-a-lago…

    6) Are we saying Assad can kill as many of his people as he wants as long as he doesn’t use chemical weapons?

  3. Greg Krehbiel Gregk
    7 April 2017 @ 5:10 pm

    Good questions.

  4. William
    7 April 2017 @ 6:31 pm

    Without having more information, it’s difficult to assess the merit of Trump’s decision. Yet, the things that are concerning to me are the inconsistencies within Trump’s practices…

    –As sm noted, on what basis/intel was the strike decision made? If it was on the American intelligence community…why are they trustworthy in this vain but not in others? So are they corrupt or are they trustworthy? This opinion seems to vacillate.

    –He urged the previous administration to stay out of these affairs. This isn’t the first instance of chemical warfare in recent years. So, why is it now OK to get involved? It makes me wonder if there wasn’t some other motive that was a driver.

    –Is there a plan to support this strike? Or, was this some isolated form of bravado, that might initiate further escalation that the US isn’t prepared for?

    –Per Greg’s point…what precedence is being set by having Trump make this decision without Congressional input (especially since they were set against getting involved under the previous administration)?

    So many questions…so few answers! What’s disconcerting is the potential for Trump to handle this in the manner in which he’s handled other key issues…continued vacillation and when called on it to side-stepping responsibility and saying something like…”well, that’s what they told me”.

  5. RR
    7 April 2017 @ 10:49 pm

    Trump’s airstrike was foolish. Here are my reasons to oppose it:

    1) It was unconstitutional as Trump did not obtain congressional authorization.

    2) The use of chemical weapons is horrific. Nonetheless, we can’t be certain that the Assad regime is to blame. Moreover, all sides in the Syrian civil war have done some pretty barbaric things. What makes the use of chemical weapons so different than say beheading children? Trump referencing the horror of children being gassed as his rationale for acting makes this strike seem an emotional, impulsive response.

    3) Syria poses no threat to the United States. We have no dog in the fight that is the Syrian civil war. If anything, Assad is the lesser of two evils. Bringing down his regime would only benefit radical Islamists in Syria, who given the chance, would cause far more bloodshed (including against Christians in Syria) than Assad. Our interventions in Iraq under George W. Bush and Libya under Obama both overthrew dictators, with radical Islamists taking advantage of the power vacuum that followed. There is little reason to think that it would be any different in Syria if Assad’s regime were to fall.

    4) The moderate rebels in Syria are very weak and have little to no chance of winning. The strongest rebel groups are all radical Islamists. In addition to ISIS, one rebel group in Syria is affiliated with Al Qaeda. So doesn’t bombing Assad’s forces effectively turn us into the air force of Al Qaeda in Syria? How messed up is that?

    5) If this air strike is a one-off, it is bad, but not the end of the world. The greater danger is that it could suck the United States into another stupid and costly war in the Middle East. Worse yet, wars are messy. If we launch further strikes and accidentally hit Russian forces currently stationed in Syria in the process, things could get really nasty. Let’s not forget that Russia has a relative strong military and nuclear weapons. Since Syria isn’t a threat to the United States, it’s just not worth risking a confrontation with Russia.

    In my darker moments, I think putting a dome over the Middle East as you have described is the way to go.

  6. smitemouth
    7 April 2017 @ 11:52 pm

    This is what people mean when they said Trump had a bad temperment–an emotional, impulsive response. And, doing the opposite of what you said should be done.

    The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not! — Trump, 30 Aug 2013

    What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval. — Trump, 29 Aug 2013

    AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING! — Trump, 5 Sep 2013

    President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your
    “powder” for another (and more important) day! — Trump, 7 Sep 2013

    Don’t attack Syria – an attack that will bring nothing but trouble for the U.S. Focus on making our country strong and great again! — Trump, 9 Sep 2013

  7. William
    8 April 2017 @ 2:46 pm

    @sm…you hit the nail on the head. It’s one thing to change one’s opinion..it happens all the time…especially when circumstances change or new information becomes available. Yet, Trump seems to vacillate on important views without a reasonable rationale. It can appear random at best and untruthful at worst. As well, when this occurs, it doesn’t engender confidence in his decision-making and temperament.

    Adding insult to injury, when this type of inconsistency is raised, it’s been sluffed off as “fake news” or sour grapes. Yet, many times, he is merely being quoted. Oh, I forgot, according to Sean Spicer (good ole Spicey), we aren’t suppose to take the President literally when speaks. I suspect we’ll just have to wait for whatever “spin”…I mean…explanation is given by the WH no matter how inconsistent it might appear.