Wow, okay, Donald Trump has attacked Syria. He has dropped dozens of tomahawk missiles on an airbase in Syria. We finally have proof that Donald Trump is going to put his fingers on any scary red button that he wants to. That’s right. Donald Trump is President, he has launch codes, and he’s not afraid to use them. Yikes.
Now, some say the bombing was stupid. In fact, a lot of people are saying it was at least a reckless miscalculation. Some people believe that this is proof of Trump’s lack of ability to serve the Office of the Presidency. I mean, Trump didn’t even knock out the important parts. First of all, he didn’t destroy the runways on the airbase. That means the planes that he didn’t attack can still take off. In other words, he killed people that can be replaced, replacements that can fly the same planes Trump didn’t attack off the runways Trump didn’t attack. So, his attack, whether you call it defense or offense, was frankly ineffective and stupid.
On the other hand, you have the people that say it’s about time. I wouldn’t go about blaming Obama for failed policies on Syria, but I would say that our enemies have pushed us into a situation in which we have the play their game or lose. Psychologically, it does make sense. I mean, some people need everyone to behave the same way they do. Whether Syria, North Korea, Iran, or others, there are violent and illegitimate despots out there that are trying to get America to commit the same atrocities they commit. It makes them look better. It makes our enemies look mainstream, like they’re not so bad after all. If we start gassing people, well, then can’t Syria do that, too? Well, we’re not going to start doing that, but randomly dropping bombs to cause fear? Now that’s a precedent Trump has sent. Now our enemies can do that whenever they want and claim hypocrisy if American is allowed to do it and they aren’t. That opens the door for permissible chaos.
After six years of Bashar al-Assad’s attacks on his own people, even supported by Russia and other likeminded regimes and opportunities allies, it was time. In fact, our response was long overdue. It was stupid, ineffective, reckless, sets the abovementioned precedents, and probably made things worse, but it had to be done. So, I believe our enemies have already backed us into that corner, as I alluded they were trying to do. The fact is, everything has gotten so bad in these countries that we’re going to have to start playing dirty. That’s not a criticism of other policies. That’s an admission that we’ve fallen behind, that we’ve got to start falling on our swords ethically and picking up more malicious methods if we’re going to get out of this mess.
The reality is you can’t get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are. No matter how true it is that Nixon said that and that nothing else he did was any better than disgusting, it is true that you can’t get to Point B if you don’t know whether you’re currently standing on Point A or Point Q. The reality is, in our minds, we’re so far ahead of the rest of the world (most of it, anyway) that we can’t see what our enemies are capable of. If we don’t start assuming that our enemies are smart, we run the risk of thinking they are easily defeated. Further, if we believe that they don’t even want to act this way but are doing so as a last resort, then it’s okay for us to do the same, making it okay to treat our enemies the way they treat us. I believe that is the first step to beating them at their own game.
In other words, it’s about time we attacked Syria. We should’ve done it a long time ago, despite how many ways it destroyed our psyches and is against everything we stand for. That’s because the enemy knows what we stand for. They know how to commit atrocities while somehow still following international law, and they know how to get us so bogged down in paperwork and analysis so they can commit their second act while we’re trying to prove the illegality of their first act, despite the fact that we could never undo the deaths of the first and the fact the deaths of the second aren’t far behind. They know how to infiltrate and cheat and steal and neutralize us, all while being sure to do so in a way that prevents our protocols from stopping them. That’s why we need to change our protocols. If someone punches you in the face and you turn around to go get your lawyer and that same someone punches you in the back of the head, eventually, you’re gonna learn to stop turning around to look for your lawyer and either start handling the situation yourself or end up with a concussion or worse. We need to start losing the ethical battle in order to win the existential war. It’s sad, but if they can spend billions of man hours on propaganda, we can repair the world’s opinions of our actions, too, but we can only do that if we’re still alive to do it.
So, how do we do it?