“History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes” -Mark Twain
If history rhymes then we are set up for a full-fledged sonnet.
Almost a year to this date (April 7th, 2017) Americans responded to the chemical attacks of the Syrian Assad regime by launching 58 tomahawk missiles. Shortly before the chemical attack, president Trump held that Syria was not a predominate concern for Americans. Similarly, a few days prior to the present Syrian attacks Trump publicly advocated for Americans to retract from the conflict. On April 7th 2018, Syria was hit by another chemical attack that killed 42-60 people and the fatalities continue to rise as people are discovered in the rubble.
From these similarities we can infer that the moment the U.S turns our backs to the Syrian conflict is the moment that Assad strikes. U.S intervention is, unfortunately, the force keeping Assad and a multitude of terrorist forces (Al-Queda, the Taliban, ISIL) at bay.
Our involvement in the Middle East, specifically Syria, has been disputed by the following arguments:
- Military action is not the best method to resolve this issue
- We should not concern ourselves with the tribal conflicts of the Middle East
- We are not the worlds police force
In the heat of the Syrian conflict Obama’s “Red Line” dissolved into a power vacuum due to his inability to utilize our military successfully. The former president retreated from direct militaristic action and instead opted for an ‘advise and assist’ strategy. However, providing our two cents cost half a billion dollars to train five rebel soldiers and $68 billion since 2001 to train Afghan forces as a whole. After this, we retreated from the region which left the door open for Russian intervention and the uprising of ISIL and other terrorist organizations. Former head of the Israeli National Security Council, Giora Eiland, states that “Any advantage Syria’s rebels might have had was lost after Russia’s September 2015 decision to support Assad”, which proves that our absence of action in the region has fueled the Assad regime. Our miscalculation during this period is proof that simply throwing money at a problem does not make it disappear.
The conflicts in the Middle East should be concerning to the U.S for a number of reasons. The increasing strength of Iran poses a threat to the U.S because they provide state sponsorship to the terror group Hezbollah. Hezbollah has been deemed the “A-Team of Terrorists” by former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage. The presence of Hezbollah should be deeply concerning to Americans because there are known “sleeper agents” on U.S soil. These agents are trained to operate under the radar until they are given the signal to act by the Iranian government. Presently, this group has an active fraud network in the U.S in which they use various businesses to launder money to Shia terrorist groups. Additionally, Hezbollah is highly active in the narcotics industry in America which further funds their organization. The presence of this group in our nation demonstrates that this fight is not simply in our backyard but has infiltrated our home.
The second cause for concern is the nuclear capabilities of Iran itself. Iran has been building their nuclear weapons program and while it may have been temporarily suspended no other terrorist group has a potential nuclear power backing them. The probability that Iran is still an active nuclear power is debatable; Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated on Monday that “We will not be the first to violate the accord but they should definitely know that they will regret it if they violate it…We are much more prepared than they think..within a week, less than a week, they will see the result.” This statement may very well be blowing smoke but the possibility that Iran has not followed the Iran nuclear deal is not out of character given the countries track record.
As if these circumstances are not troubling enough, a humanitarian crisis surrounds the middle eastern conflict as well. In 2017 alone 10,204 civilians were killed including 2,298 children and 1,536 women.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights report in 2017 indicates that 90% of the attacks in Syria by the Assad Regime and their counterparts were directed at civilians which directly undermines Assad’s claim that he is fighting terrorism. Assad is not an anti-terrorist, he is a terrorist.
The most recent attack is attributed to illegal chemical warfare despite the false reports by Syrian and Russian officials who denied that chemicals were involved in the attack. Autopsies analyzed by Turkish doctors confirmed that the victims were exposed to Sarin, a nerve agent that makes breathing impossible and causes the breakdown of other bodily functions in a matter of minutes. The lethal dose of sarin is 35mg and an exposure time frame of two minutes. By comparison, the deadliest WW1 chemical known as phosgene takes 1,500mg to become fatal. The extreme nature of this chemical weapon far surpasses the ‘red line’ that Americans and the U.N have sanctioned against chemical warfare and should be met with severe consequences.
If these numbers are not enough, here is footage of the victims of the recent attack:
I understand that it is hard to connect yourself with the atrocities occurring miles away as opposed to the problems facing you directly but isolationist America has never brought justice to the victims of war crimes. Think back to WW2, we remained isolated from the massacre of the Jews in Europe until the fight was brought to American soil in Pearl Harbor. Once we entered the fight, the U.S home front was united behind our troops as they fought against injustice and tyranny.
If the Assad regime and their counterparts in the “Axis of Evil” continue to gain power they will bring this fight to American soil if we do not exemplify strength and fortitude in the present crisis. This attitude is supported by Hillary Clinton (yes, you read that correctly) who told Obama privately during his administration, “If you say you’re going to strike, you have to strike. There’s no choice.” If Hillary Clinton can agree with Trumps decision to retaliate then either the world is ending or we have reached a common consensus that these atrocities have to be stopped with force.
- The claim that Hezbollah is on American soil is backed by the National Counterterrorism Center Director, the director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and former Homeland Security Chairman Peter T. King.
- Steven Casteel, “Narco-Terrorism: International Drug Trafficking and Terrorism-A Dangerous Mix,” Testimony of the Assistant Administrator for Intelligence, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 20 May 2003. (Steven Casteel is the Assistant Administrator for Intelligence, Drug Enforcement Administration).
(Many of my other sources are provided by in-text links)