Last week the U.S launched a retaliatory strike on Syria against alleged chemical attacks by the Assad regime upon a segment of their own citizens. This action is problematic on several levels and reverses President Trump’s assertions just a few weeks before that he would be “withdrawing our troops from Syria”. This action teeters on the brink of massive geopolitical consequences and the questions need to be asked: just exactly what is going on here?
The whole premise of chemical attacks by Assad on his own people is specious from the beginning. It looks like the war makers needed a convenient scapegoat. Assad has consolidated power and, with Russian backing, is fairly secure in his leadership of Syria. He has no pressing need to gas anyone. It is also true that after the American led strikes, the Syrians took to the streets with posters and banners supporting Assad. A strange reaction from people allegedly gassed by their own leader.
Even if Assad was implicated, as Trump team members insist, there is little strategic value to the strikes. In other words, we are shooting missiles into a sovereign country in response to an incident we have only minimal intelligence on, for no strategic threat or purpose to the United States, while risking widening global conflict with the Russians. Even in the most fallacious geopolitical math, that just does not add up.
There is a deeper analysis, however. With the signing of the recent omnibus budget bill, Trump single-handedly erased eight years of Obama related military cutbacks. It was for these national security purposes that Trump publicly claimed he had to sign the bill. This year alone the bill calls for $727 billion in military spending with another $800 billion next year. As forces opposed to increased U.S. global hegemony, including China, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Iran and many others, look at this new outpouring of cash, they have to be panicking a bit.
For eight years Obama, under his personal worldview of a Neo-Colonial and immoral United States Hegemony, rolled back U.S. power across the globe. Through sequestration and other subtle means (sensitivity training for soldiers, women in combat, military provided sex change operations and so forth) Obama chiseled away at military strength, preparedness, and morale. Forces opposing the U.S rejoiced while our traditional allies wrung their hands. As one European Union Prime Minister opined in 2015 when asked what the most pressing issue facing Europe was: “To have the United States start acting like the United States again.”
There are many countries and many leaders across the globe who openly despise America’s power and economic strength. They publicly condemn our actions and controlling influence on world markets while privately requesting we continue to provide stability and security against less principled and ambitious global actors. As America weakened under Obama, these alternate influences began to see their opportunity for breaking America’s dominance globally head toward an achievable reality.
In one stroke of the pen, President Trump reversed this course. Thus we have possible false flags in Syria and who knows where else in the future. The problem with these little proxy wars is that it is akin to smoking in a gas station. One spark in the wrong place and disaster awaits.
The Russian response to Syria has been nothing more than rhetoric, for the moment. But you can bet Russian and Chinese leaders are wondering how to stop over a trillion and a half dollars over the next twenty-two months from becoming fresh new American fighting power. You can bet that incidents like Syria are far from over as the global chess game continues.