President Trump has ordered the launching of nearly 60 missiles on select targets in Syria.
His most tireless critics are now singing his praises.
Along with Trump himself, they reason that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is a ruthless dictator who has used chemical weapons on his own people, including women, children, and babies. He is a gross human rights violator who had been permitted to cross with impunity President Obama’s “red line” one too many times. President Trump had to send an unmistakable message that the United States was under new management and would no longer tolerate such egregious abuses—from anyone.
And there is no doubt that Trump’s decision is not without its political advantages.
First, Trump’s action is already being hailed by countries, including Middle Eastern, Islamic countries, around the world.
Second, it is being hailed by many Democrats and Republicans alike.
Third, Trump’s immediate, forceful response stands in glaring contrast to the non-response of Obama after the latter drew a “red line” thatAssad was alleged to have crossed in unleashing chemical weapons on civilians. The impression that will not be lost upon scores of Americans is twofold: (1) The mess in Syria is a legacy of Obama’s presidency, a mess that he lacked the fortitude to prevent and/or rectify; and (2) Trump does have the strength to address it.
Fourth, the whole “Trump-is-a-Puppet-of-Putin” narrative that Hillary Clinton first launched during one of her debates with Trump may have finally (at long last) been put out to pasture. Given that Putin is not at all pleased with the President’s decision to target his ally, and in light of the fact that it was Obama, a Democrat, who did Putin’s bidding by refusing to follow through with his threat to Assad, the Democrats’ conspiracy theory regarding an alleged Trump/Putin tie is more than a bit difficult to sustain.
But while there are clear advantages to bombing Syria, there are potential disadvantages as well, for there is no small number of libertarians and classical conservatives who voted for Trump precisely because of his repudiation of the neoconservative/neoliberal, Republican/Democrat globalist vision that has informed foreign policy for decades. There are at least six arguments that have been made against this exercise in military interventionism.
First, it is unclear and, in fact, quite questionable that Assad did in fact do that of which he’s being accused. Why, the skeptics ask, would this Westernized, secular leader resort to this brutality when he would have surely known that…