In the last few days, there has been mixed reaction to the missile strike on Syria; many who already supported Trump saw the strike as a necessary and even brilliant move that shows the world there’s a new sheriff in town. Those who oppose the strike are painted as anti-Trump or even perhaps traitorous if one is to believe social media. There is, however, a very logical case to be made for disagreeing with the strike, and it has nothing to do with opposing Trump personally. Emotions shouldn’t play a role in this analysis; the base desire to be seen as a superpower again, or to feel as though we have a president who ‘won’t take guff from anyone’ is just that — emotion.
This analysis will focus on two key points:
- a) Does the U.S. have the right or duty to step in after incidents such as the chemical weapons attack in Syria? If yes, what are the criteria for doing so?
- b) Does any other country have that same right or duty? If yes, is the U.S. also subject to this type of third-party retaliation?
While it may seem odd to split those into two questions, the truth is that many Americans tend to view this country’s action as being subject to a different standard than other nations. Therefore, whether America has the right to do something is often a completely different issue to many than whether another country would carry that same entitlement.
Many libertarians argue, for instance, that “the U.S. is not the world’s policeman,” with others responding that well, someone has to be. The logical progression of that idea, however, is that if the “world’s policeman” mantle does rest on the shoulders of the United States, then by default any and all heinous acts occurring throughout the world should also warrant a response from the U.S.
However, there are issues of limited resources and perhaps even a deep-seated understanding that the U.S. cannot fix the world’s problems. The question, therefore, becomes about criteria — what has to happen for the U.S. to deem it necessary to issue a military response regarding the affairs of another nation?
According to President Trump’s statement after the strike, his reasons were very simple: innocent civilians were killed, including children. Extrapolating that logic, however, brings us back to the previous point. If the criteria for U.S. military intervention is simply the deaths of innocent civilians to include children, then there’s a lot more bombing to do in this world. Obviously, that can’t be the sole reason. Some would argue that it was also a way for Trump to make America look forceful and effective in front of China, but that argument seems a bit shallow when one points out that it’s essentially punching someone in the face to prove to someone else that you’re willing to fight.
Others may argue that Trump knows what he’s doing, but is that a fair assumption considering he has kept several Obama officials in his administration and gave a key position to his son-in-law, a lifelong Democrat who’s being advised by “Mistress of Disaster” Jamie Gorelick? Is it safe to believe that the President knows what he’s doing when he’s assembled a group of people who firmly believe that the government should collect and use any scrap of data they can about you, and gave them the intelligence agencies and all federal law enforcement to run? Questioning these actions is something Americans should be doing. We do have the right to point out that there’s a discrepancy here — is it just that children died? Is there some other reason? And if so, does that reason further liberty or does it serve another agenda?
The second question posed earlier is equally important. Do other countries have the right or duty to react militarily in cases like this, and is the U.S. also subject to those rules? This might seem like a laughable prospect. Certainly, some would argue, the U.S. government doesn’t go around gassing and massacring its children.
Except they did, in 1993, in Waco, Texas, and the video evidence is a lot more conclusive than that from Syria. Should Russia have sent fifty-nine cruise missiles over to hit Austin or Dallas, and let the U.S. government know it better not kill any more of its children? Or should China have sent over a few? How would we have responded if either country had made that type of military strike?
It’s easy to say that the idea of another country stepping in to ‘punish’ the U.S. for Waco is ludicrous. Then again, so is the idea of the U.S. going over to Syria — in the middle of an ongoing civil war — and ‘punishing’ the Assad regime for an act that still carries too many questions and not enough answers.
Regardless of campaign promises, regardless of anything else, a president and his administration are only as good as their actions for or against liberty, and holding the government to that standard continuously and fairly is not treason — it’s our job as informed American citizens. And if the U.S. is the world’s policeman, then who’s going to play Internal Affairs?