After Syrian missile strikes, questions remain about larger strategy

Last week, the United States delivered a strong message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by conducting a missile strike in retaliation to Assad’s grotesque chemical attack that left hundreds dead or wounded. Last week’s military strike once again left us questioning our unpredictable commander-in-chief’s intentions in Syria.

The timing of the strike seemed so sudden that anyone would think that this unapologetic display of force was a knee-jerk decision, especially from a man who in an October 2016 interview with Reuters claimed that military intervention against Assad’s regime would result in “World War III.” There appears to be no obvious indication that the strike was part of some larger strategy. And yet, he has now managed to gain favor among some of his fiercest critics in what looks like an unforeseen validation of his haphazard decision-making process.

One can assume that, much like Trump, these critics were moved by last week’s terrible images of children gasping for air and foaming at the mouth. Indeed, immediately after the attack, politicians on both sides of the spectrum were in resolute agreement that Assad had to be stopped.

At this point, a war against Assad’s government almost seems inevitable. Moments after last week’s attack, Trump tried to make his case with convincingly poignant talk of dead children and the unquestionable need for the United States to take action in Syria. I believe that very few would argue that the world should turn a blind eye to the carnage in the Middle East, but, given the president’s shoddy track record on aiding refugees fleeing from said carnage, one can only stop and wonder if Trump really deserves any points for humanitarianism. After his many failed attempts at an indefinite ban of Syrian refugees, it has become obvious that his intentions aren’t always as clear-cut as we may want them to be.

Nevertheless, here we are, in the midst of a new phase in the already chaotic Syrian Civil War. One can only hope that the recent strike was not an immediate emotional reaction from the president. Anything less than a carefully planned strategy would be a fool’s errand. Toppling the Assad regime without taking the potential consequences into full consideration could further destabilize the Middle East in ways we have never seen before. We already left a rather prodigious mess after the war in Iraq. Let’s not create another one.

Israel Aragon Bravo is a sophomore majoring in psychology.