On the 7th of April 2017, President Donald Trump plunged America into war. In retaliation to Syria launching a chemical attack on its own people, America fired 50 Tomahawk missiles at one of their air bases. In what seems to be an uncharacteristically compassionate move from President Trump, America has clearly shown where they draw the line. And yet, it achieved nothing.
This attack was launched before the chemical attack had even been officially attributed to Assad’s regime. This conclusion is obviously logical and would be entirely characteristic of the dictator, but to launch what could be seen as an act of war, before receiving confirmation, is foolish. The risks associated with such an action are already being realised, as Russia, Iran, and other allies of Syria make statements condemning the attack and threatening a response if it is repeated. The airstrike risked escalating a conflict that has raged for six years already, no doubt causing an increased involvement from most of the world’s military superpowers. So what did this incredibly dangerous action achieve?
‘The airstrike risked escalating a conflict that has raged for six years already’
Very little. The extent of the damage the Shayrat airbase suffered is an issue of debate, depending on which party you get your information from. What cannot be debated, however, is that this single strike has done little to impact or deter Assad’s campaign. Just hours after the American missiles had hit, more Syrian jets took off from the exact same airbase. The attack did not impact the utility of the base, nor the Syrian government’s determination, and thus it had no real effect. The plethora of risks associated with this strike were met with zero reward.
It may then be difficult to understand Donald Trump’s motives for this attack. The White House claim that he was so moved by the images of the victims of Assad’s chemical attack that he could not sit back and do nothing. Yet his actions did not include lifting his band on Syrian refugees or making efforts to bring about a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. He bombed an airbase. To comprehend this prioritisation, look no further than the American media. All major publications are praising Trump for showing strength and being a leader. Struggling presidencies, Clinton, Bush, etc, have utilised military intervention to boost their ratings and garner support for years, and judging by the reaction Trump has received from the media, this won’t be the last time he pulls this card from his sleeve.
‘The plethora of risks associated with this strike were met with zero reward’
Whatever his motives may have been – whether he is trying to rally the American people behind him, or artificially create a second, scripted, cold war with Russia that result in the lifting of sanctions – Trump’s actions were dangerous and ineffective. The strike on the Shayrat airbase did nothing but increase tensions and add fuel to the fire of yet another raging proxy war in the Middle East.