Whatever one’s views on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the whole world (with the exception of the establishment media) was in shock when Donald Trump committed a flagrant act of aggression against the government of Syria.
There are many indications that this act will not contribute to Syria’s security or the safety and security of the wider international community. In assessing Trump’s reckless decision, Anti-Media has put together a brief list of the reasons why Trump’s military strike will only bring more chaos and instability to the international order.
1. U.S. is now officially in an international armed conflict
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the situation within Syria now amounts to an “international armed conflict” after the U.S. directed a missile launch at a Syrian airbase. This, in turn, expands both sides’ humanitarian obligations to protect prisoners of war — something that seems unlikely to occur.
“Any military operation by a state on the territory of another without the consent of the other amounts to an international armed conflict,” ICRC spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet told Reuters in response to an inquiry.
In addition to this designation legally implicating the U.S. (as well the Syrian government who, for their part, do not want to go to war with the American military), this should frighten even the most die-hard Trump supporters for two reasons: (1) the U.S. is a NATO member, meaning that if America is brought under attack by Syria, all NATO allies are required to defend it from the Syrian government and (2) Syria is allied with Iran through a mutual defense agreement. It is heavily defended by the Russian military, meaning this has the potential to become a full-blown war between multiple state actors.
According to the New York Times, taking out Syria’s air defenses for the purpose of installing full air control above Syria (a.k.a a “no-fly zone”) would require “as many as 70,000 American servicemen to dismantle Syria’s sophisticated antiaircraft system and then impose a 24-hour watch over the country.”
That was the estimate of General Martin E. Dempsey before Russia entered the Syrian conflict. Both Russia and Iran just stated they will “respond with force” if the U.S. crosses any more of their red lines within Syria (committing acts of aggression against the Syrian state).
How’s that for international stability?
2. The “threat” of North Korea and Iran
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson admitted the strikes on Syria were not just about Syria but were intended to send a warning to other nations; in particular, North Korea (something Anti-Media speculated immediately following Trump’s missile attack).
However, whatever deterring influence the U.S. thinks a missile strike on Syria might have against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is already having the opposite effect. North Korea has openly condemned America’s act of war against Syria, calling it “an unforgivable act of aggression against a sovereign state.” A North Korean spokesperson also stated:
The reality of today proves our decision to strengthen our military power to stand against force with force was the right choice a million times over.
North Korea has known the value of a nuclear deterrent for years now. As Professor John Delury of the Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies told BBC in September of last year:
North Korea learned from Iraq that Saddam Hussein’s mistake was he did not possess the weapons of mass destruction he was falsely accused of having. Libya taught a similar lesson.
So, until we can help Pyongyang find a credible substitute to guarantee its security, and give Kim Jong-un the kind of prestige that comes with being a member of the nuclear club, then we can expect more tests, more progress and more ‘provocations’.
Iran is in a similar situation. As identified by intellectual Noam Chomsky:
Why is Iran regarded here as the greatest threat to world peace? … They [the intelligence community] say Iran has very low military spending, even by the standards of the region, much lower than Saudi Arabia, Israel, [and] others. Its strategy is defensive. They want to deter attacks long enough for diplomacy to be entertained. The conclusion, intelligence conclusion—this is a couple years ago—is: If they are developing nuclear weapons, which we don’t know, but if they are, it would be part of their deterrent strategy.
Chomsky also added:
Now, why is the United States and Israel even more so concerned about a deterrent? Who’s concerned about a deterrent? Those who want to use force. Those who want to be free to use force are deeply concerned about a potential deterrent. So, yes, Iran is the greatest threat to world peace, might deter our use of force.
Where will this madness end?
3. The rise of ISIS and other radical elements within Syria
Despite Assad’s mounting list of documented crimes against humanity, the fact remains that he was once widely praised for protecting the rights of Christians and other minority groups. Comparatively, the majority of the rebel groups fighting to topple the Assad government share ISIS’ core ideology, and they would establish sharia law if they were successful, at least according to a think tank set up by Tony Blair. The think tank’s report also determined it was pointless to distinguish between these rebel groups because they all work together on the ground. One should note that this report is actually concerned with promulgating regime change, and the fact that they couldn’t identify a significant moderate or democratic fighting force within Syria speaks volumes.
The particular air facility in Syria that Trump decided to rain missiles upon was actually a vital defensive location used to repel ISIS. As noted by the Los Angeles Times:
For residents of Shayrat and other villages, the airbase was instrumental in keeping at bay Islamic State militants hiding in the eastern district of Homs. [emphasis added]
Trump’s strike will only empower terror groups within and outside Syria as they capitalize on the instability that such strikes attract. As explained by former U.N. weapons inspector, Scott Ritter:
The other winner in this sorry story is ISIS, which took advantage of the American strike against Al Shayrat to launch a major offensive against Syrian government forces around the city of Palmyra (Al Shayrat had served as the principal air base for operations in the Palmyra region). The breakdown in relations between Russia and the United States means that, for the foreseeable future at least, the kind of coordination that had been taking place in the fight against ISIS is a thing of the past, a fact that can only bode well for the fighters of ISIS.
It is hard to find any positive angle on Trump’s decision to bombard the Syrian government, especially considering the strikes’ illegality and their potential to spiral out of control. Trump even issued a letter to Congress at the end of the week warning he might take further action. “The United States will take additional action, as necessary and appropriate, to further its important national interests,” he said.
Even if there were a moral or international legal mandate to punish Assad for a chemical weapons attack, we need only ask ourselves why Trump felt the need to punish Assad without asking Congress for approval and without first presenting his evidence of Assad’s culpability. We must also ask ourselves one other important question:
Who is going to “punish” Trump for massacring over 200 civilians in a single aerial bombardment in Iraq?