HARRINGTON: Syrian strikes accomplish little


Photo by REUTERS

This past Friday, the United States, Britain and France struck several military targets in Syria. These strikes were responses to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical agents on rebel forces in the town of Douma.

This created a rift between the United States and the Russian government, who has backed the current Syrian regime during the seven-year civil war. Syrian and Russian representatives denied the use of chemical weapons, and United Nations experts are inspecting evidence that may prove the contrary. The current American arguments for intervention come from a wide array of sources and have eerily echoed the sentiments that ensnared the nation in the war in Iraq.

Some public figures have come out in resounding support of the strikes in Syria. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that the American public should take pride in our military’s “overpowering” efforts. Setting aside the intensely jingoist rhetoric present in Tillerson’s statement, it still is inaccurate. The strikes on April 13 didn’t really disrupt or end the Syrian government’s abilities to make and deploy chemical weapons. The conflict in Syria is still displacing thousands by the day and resolution seems as distant as it was prior to American intervention. The United State’s show of force has only shown our current willingness to entangle ourselves in the affairs of other nations.

These strikes accomplished nothing. The United States has put a slight damper on the Syrian chemical weapons program. But this slight change only allows the United States and its allies in Europe to continue strikes on Syrian targets. This is not nation-building or humanitarian intervention, it’s meddling for the sake of American imperialism.

This kind of behavior has been present in United States foreign policy since the conclusion of World War II. Supporting proxy wars across the globe to generate profitable environments for American interests has created turmoil and carnage in almost every corner of the globe. Following this tradition, the continued presence of the United States as an influencing force in the Syrian Civil War only seems to serve to benefit American interests as opposed to the interests of the Syrian people.

Our current relationship with Russia, the other world power with heavy ties to the civil war, are strained at best. The Syrian conflict could be the tipping point in several other nearby geopolitical struggles, such as the tensions between Iran and Israel.

The widespread turmoil in the Middle-East can be easily linked to United States intervention actions over the past few decades. Some of these missions had genuine and legitimate goals, but holistically, the United States has been something of a bull in a china shop in terms of our role in Middle East politics.

The precarious nature of the geopolitical climate in the Middle East is like a series of dominoes. One misstep by the United States or its allies could trigger a disastrous, larger global conflict that could shape the future of the world.

If the current administration is suddenly filled with the desire for humanitarian solutions to the Syrian conflict, there are alternatives to firing Tomahawk missiles into Damascus. For example, one course of action could be accepting more than just 11 refugees from the war-torn nation.

Defense Secretary James Mattis stated that the United States intends to remain involved in international negotiations but reiterated the assertion, “We are not going to engage in the civil war itself.” This may be an old-fashioned view of geopolitics, but firing missiles at military targets in a foreign nation feels, on a surface level, like fairly clear engagement.

The chemical strikes that have occurred in Syria prior to the April 7 attack in Douma are undeniably horrific events. Chemical warfare is one of the cowardly ways that leaders wage war on the innocent. The Syrian people have experienced numerous and constant traumas over the past seven years.

If the U.S. and its allies are indeed acting as a global community, and the Assad regime is to be punished for these actions, we need to be more measured in our actions and less prone to violence if long-term stability in Syria is truly the endgame.