glanzel 4-20
April 20, 2017

GLANZEL | Trump Was Right On Syria

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I’m not a Donald Trump fan — but I believe credit should be given when deserved. President Trump’s decision to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian air instillations was both the strategic and moral decision to make.

For the last six years, Syria has been locked in one of the deadliest civil wars in modern history, as nearly 450,000 civilians and soldiers have died. The brutality and length of the conflict has revealed some of the darkest corners of man’s capacity to inflict pain and loss on itself. The sheer destruction of this conflict has leveled cities, ruined families, displaced 7.5 million from their homes and forced 4.5 million to flee the country as refugees. Syria’s civil war has been, without question, a war of immense pain and misery.

At the helm of this crisis stands one man: Bashar al-Assad — Syria’s autocratic president. The son of Syria’s former president, Hafez al-Assad, Assad once maintained complete and absolute control over the Syrian people. However, the powerful tide of the Arab Spring turned Syria’s once absolutist dictatorship into a land of anarchy.

In a desperate attempt to save his own power, Assad violated international law by using chemical weapons against rebel forces. Yet the horrific effects of these weapons were not solely felt by the soldiers of the rebel army; instead, hundreds of innocent men, women and children were exposed to the toxic chemicals. Assad’s use of these weapons was not only illegal, but it also symbolized the worst of humanity. A dictatorial strongman used his power to end lives, ruin families and expose the world to the horror of chemical warfare.

In the wake of these attacks, the world’s most powerful nation did nothing. Under the leadership of President Obama, the United States simply stared at the problem and hoped that it would go away. No action was taken; no leadership was shown. And as the United States shrunk from its responsibility to defend those who could not defend themselves, a new power emerged in the Middle East: Russia. By supplying the Syrian government with weapons and air support, the Russian government effectively sanctioned the use chemical weapons and the killing of innocent civilians. And as Russia acted to support the sheer evil of Assad’s regime, we passively stood by and watched.

From a strategic standpoint, I understand Obama’s reluctance to intervene in the conflict. There is little appetite in this nation for another Middle Eastern war, as our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, alongside the global War on Terror, have taken their toll. Furthermore, there are many within the foreign relations establishment that are wary of the United States removing another Middle Eastern strongman. The most recent removals of Middle Eastern dictators — specifically Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya — have not ended well. Hussein’s removal sparked a radical destabilization of political power in Iraq, as the new Iraqi parliament was unable to fully quell the warring Sunni, Shi’a and Kurdish factions within the nation. As a result of this instability, a powerful fundamentalist group was able to gain large swaths of Iraqi territory: ISIS. At the same time, the removal of Gaddafi in Libya created an intensely unstable state. Thus, concerns over another American intervention in Middle Eastern affairs are understandable.

Yet America’s unwillingness to act in the wake of blatant human rights violations is a sign of great weakness. It is the job of the world’s lone superpower to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves — and that involves reacting to the evil actions of rogue dictators. Standing idly by as countless civilians are poisoned by chemical weapons is not a luxury afforded to a nation that claims to lead the free world.

President Trump’s decision to attack Syrian air bases is good for multiple reasons. First, it shows that the United States is willing to stand up and fight for what it believes to be right. Second, it shows that America is not afraid to act in the wake of aggression. Finally, the action gives the appearance of decisiveness — and the appearance of decisiveness is one of the most important aspects of any nation’s capacity to project power.
While Trump’s foreign policy thus far has been an embarrassing roller-coaster, his latest decision was one he got right. By standing up to a tyrant, Trump has signaled to the world that the United States is prepared to defend the interests of free people across the globe. Though Trump has much to do to repair his (and America’s) image abroad, this is certainly a step in the right direction.


Michael Glanzel is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached a Cornell Shrugged appears alternate Thursdays this semester. 

  • Simon Gunson

    Credit for shooting first without establishing the facts?
    Spare me

    The Rebel Group controlling Khan Sheikhun since February 2017, Liwa al Aqsa are the same terrorist group who manufactured Sarin in Gaziantep and used it for a Sarin attack in 2013.

    Too much about the events of April 4th 2017 do not make sense. The News media all poured sympathy for a man clutching two dead babies. His name was Abdul Hamid Yousef. He released a video on Youtube where he stated in Arabic that he was sleeping with his wife and children when he heard a bomb blast. Abdul said he could smell the gas. The problem is that Sarin is odorless.

    He said he looked outside and saw the blast demolished his parents home had been damaged in a blast. He said his children were already sick before he left the house but he rushed to pull his parents from the wreckage of their home. No respirator. Nor chemical protection suit. Sarin is not just inhaled. A single droplet can kill and we are expected to accept this man handled victims with no protection and did not suffer the fate of his kids?

    Jihadist rebels said the blast left a crater in a road, so why did this man say in his youtube video that the blast struck his parents home.

    If people can’t see the obvious deceptions, then that is because they have closed minds.

  • Brian Echevarria

    Trump’s foreign policy has been an “embarrassing roller coaster”?
    According to who? You?
    From Lebanon to Saudi Arabia, Arabs&Muslims are celebrating President Trump. They call him Abu Ivanka al-Amriki. Some have gone so far as to call him “Lion of the Sunnis” & “Caliph of the Muslims”.
    Saudi, Egyptian, and Jordanian leadership has praised President Trump for ushering in a new era of cooperation.
    China, for the first time in my lifetime, is working with America to take tangible steps to quell North Korean ambitions.
    Our once strong alliance with the United Kingdom is returning, after Obama’s incompetence.
    Japan & South Korea have both expressed happiness with the direction President Trump is taking.
    In short, all our old allies have become empowered and energized under Trump’s leadership.
    I honestly could care less if MultiKulti Merkel & the unelected bureaucrats of the EU like Trump or not. They are on their last legs anyway!
    Lastly, American/Russian relations could possibly have been in a much better position today if not for the constant lies, misinformation, and propaganda leaked by the Obama administration & regurgitated daily by the disgusting media!