Tag Archives: Bashar al Assad

Where is outrage over conventional weapons?

Chris Wallace has posed an perfectly legitimate question to United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

The “Fox News Sunday” host asked Haley this morning why the Trump administration is so willing to use military action against Syria when it uses chemical weapons on its citizens but doesn’t deliver such punishment when the Syrian government kills them with “conventional weapons.”

“That’s an unfair question,” Haley said in her initial response.

Actually, Mme. Ambassador, it’s a perfectly fair question and Wallace was correct to ask it.

For the record, Haley said the United States doesn’t tolerate the use of any weapons, but didn’t respond directly to Wallace’s query about whether the president views chemical weapon use differently than conventional weapon use.

I happen to support the decision to strike at Syria. I believe we responded correctly by aligning ourselves with France and Great Britain and hitting the Syrians in concert with our allies.

My belief now is that we need to reignite some intense diplomatic power to persuade the Syrians it clearly is in their best interests to call a halt to the slaughter in their country.

Oh, and while we’re at it, we also need to ratchet up the pressure on Russia and Iran to cease lending aid to a war criminal — Bashar al Assad — who happens to be the dictator who runs a ham-fisted government in Damascus.

So, here we are. We have pounded the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure. Our forces reportedly delivered crippling damage to it. Ambassador Haley said the strikes have set back Syria’s chemical weapons program by many years.

What about those conventional weapons? When do we draw the “red line” when it involves the hideous use of those weapons on innocent victims?

‘Mission accomplished’? Not just yet, Mr. President

Donald Trump did what he needed to do when he ordered “precision strikes” against Syrian chemical weapons facilities.

The White House has declared “mission accomplished” with regard to the strikes launched by U.S., French and British air power. It was an impressive allied effort to retaliate against Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians, including children.

The sight of those victims convulsing and heaving in the wake of the gas attack sickens the heart. It also points out that we are dealing in Syria with an animal disguised as a strongman.

To hear the Russians, Syrians and the Iranians deny that Assad gassed civilians is to defy credulity. Of course he did it. Assad has shown such propensity in the past.

The air strikes, though, have accomplished their mission, which was to destroy Syria’s ability to deliver chemical attacks. Reports from the field indicate that the air strikes — as deadly as they were — did not prevent a future gas attack.

Which brings me to a critical point. To claim “mission accomplished” requires proof that Assad has been rendered impotent militarily. That hasn’t happened.

We once heard a president of the United States, George W. Bush, issue a similar “mission accomplished” statement after our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. We captured the late Saddam Hussein, resulting in President Bush making that landing aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier, where he stood under the banner proclaiming that we had accomplished our mission. The war dragged on for years after Saddam’s capture and execution.

Trump cannot make such a declaration yet. The Joint Chiefs of Staff — at the president’s direction — have executed, in conjunction with our French and British allies, a strong response to Syria’s dictator.

Let us hope it doesn’t lead to a broader conflict or — and this is the worst case — open conflict with Russia and Iran.

A mission that is accomplished fully will render Bashar al Assad incapable of inflicting such misery ever again on helpless victims.

U.S. joins allies in delivering heat to Assad

Donald J. Trump decided this evening to do something traditional and, um, presidential. He didn’t make this announcement via Twitter.

He went on national TV to tell Americans he “ordered our armed forces” to launch precision air strikes against Syrian forces and against those who launched chemical strikes against helpless civilians, including children.

The best part of this attack, presuming that they find their targets and destroy them, is that American pilots are flying alongside allies from the United Kingdom and France.

Yes, this needs to be an allied effort against the monstrous regime ruled by Bashar al Assad, who has his own allies — in Russia and Iran.

We needed to hit Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal hard. I’m in full support of this response against a government run by someone who — in my mind — needs to be captured and who needs to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

Why not just send him detailed plans? Hmm?

What happened to Donald J. Trump’s alleged penchant for unpredictability?

The president is now telling Russia to “get ready” for air strikes against Syrian targets in response to dictator Bashar al Assad’s latest gassing of civilians, including children.

How does this work? Do the Russians now harden their targets to lessen their losses in the event of an attack? Then there’s the warning that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin plans to “target” U.S. military targets in response to a retaliatory strike.

Trump keeps telling us he likes being unpredictable. He wants to keep our foes and friends alike guessing what we’ll do next. Isn’t that what he has said? Over and over?

This man is playing a dangerous game of chicken.

He is out of control!

As for Assad, he needs to be arrested and ordered to stand trial on charges that he has committed crimes against humanity.

Yes, Mr. POTUS, you need to act

You aren’t likely to believe this, but I’ll say it anyway.

I truly want Donald Trump to do the right thing regarding a possible U.S. response to Syria’s latest use of chemical weapons on innocent Syrian civilians — including women and children.

I also want the president to keep shining the light of accountability on the Russian government, which has sponsored Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s brutality. Trump said the Russians could pay a heavy price if the United States decides to use military force against the Syrians.

Does that mean Vladimir Putin — who has escaped much of the fiery rhetoric that comes from Trump — will pay a price, too?

I do hope so.

I do not want U.S. troops to remain in Syria. I do not want us to get swept up in the civil war that has killed more than 400,000 Syrians.

If the president is going to strike a tough-guy posture with regard to crimes against humanity, he needs also to single out Russia, which is wallowing in the filth of those crimes in Syria.

I am among millions of Americans who cannot understand why Trump has gone so soft on Putin and the government he leads. I also am among those Americans who is waiting for some sign that Trump’s infatuation with Putin has ended.

Finally!

Trump telegraphing our next move in Syria?

Wait a second. Didn’t the Republicans in Congress climb all over President Barack Obama for “telegraphing” our withdrawal of fighting troops from Iraq?

Now the next president has declared his intention to remove our small contingent of troops from Syria. What happens after Donald J. Trump’s statement of intent? The Syrians launched a chemical attack against their citizens, prompting one prominent Trump critic, Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain, to lay blame squarely at the president’s feet for this “crime against humanity.”

McCain asserted that Trump has “emboldened” the Syrians. What’s more, he wants the president to respond as he did the first time the Syrian government gassed its citizenry, with targeted air strikes.

Now, to his credit, Trump is slamming Russia for its continuing support of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.

“The question now is whether he will do anything about it,” Sen. McCain said. “The President responded decisively when Assad used chemical weapons last year. He should do so again, and demonstrate that Assad will pay a price for his war crimes.”

Back to my original point. Why did the president reveal his hand by declaring his intention to get our troops out of that civil war?

It can be argued, I suppose, that Barack Obama opened the door for the Islamic State to ramp up its activities in Iraq by revealing a deadline for our withdrawal from the Iraqi battlefield. It damn sure brought out the GOP critics; I believe Donald Trump was one of them.

As for McCain’s urging an armed response, I believe the president needs to hit Syrian forces … hard!

Smart man makes stupid point about Hitler

Sean Spicer is not a stupid man.

However, he made a stupid point this week using the time-honored reference to Adolf Hitler to make some kind of contemporary argument.

The White House press secretary said that Adolf Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons on Holocaust victims, implying that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s use of such weapons is even more despicable than anything Hitler did.

Time out!

How about stop using any references to Hitler? Spicer’s careless and reckless use of the historical record illustrates one of the risks involved with referencing the dastardly deeds of the 20th century’s most heinous tyrant.

I’m not going to invoke the “both sides do it” canard, which I believe is meant to dilute the transgression of one side’s error. Spicer has acknowledged forthrightly the gravity of his blunder and has manned up appropriately.

However, many of Donald Trump’s critics have used Hitler references to express their fear of what might occur during Trump’s presidency. I dislike those references, too.

If the White House press flack has learned any lesson from this unfortunate episode, it ought to be to steer far, far away from any references to Hitler.

For that matter, the lesson I want to impart is that Hitler’s deeds shouldn’t be compared to anyone else. The memories of millions of his victims compel us to recall with singular loathing the Nazi tyrant’s heinous record.

Spicer earns dubious place in flackery annals

As if we needed proof of the seemingly obvious …

Sean Spicer’s performance this week has confirmed what many Americans have long suspected, which is that he’ll go down in history as one of the most inept White House press flacks in the history of the office.

My goodness. How does one calculate the impact of this man’s performance as he sought to clarify, re-clarify, and then re-re-clarify a statement he made about the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons on civilians?

However, at another level, I feel a bit badly for Spicer. He is merely representative of the most incompetent presidential administration I’ve ever witnessed. Hey, I’m now 67 years of age. I’ve been watching these transitions with some interest now for quite some time. I’ve witnessed presidents assemble governments quickly in the wake of intense national tragedy and national scandal. None of them compares with the bungling boobery  we’ve witnessed with the Donald John Trump administration.

Spicer this week demonstrated precisely the muddled messaging that occurs with startling regularity.

During his daily press briefing, Spicer said — during the week of Passover, for crying out loud! — that Adolf Hitler didn’t use “chemical weapons” on millions of Holocaust victims. Huh?

He implied that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s gassing of civilians somehow was worse than what Hitler did to European Jews prior to and during World War II.

OK, then he backed off of that … more or less. He said he meant to acknowledge that Hitler gassed millions of people, but was comparing it to Assad’s use of aircraft to drop chemical weapons on “innocent victims.” OK. Then, did he mean that the Holocaust victims weren’t, uh, innocent?

No, that’s not what he meant … he said.

Throughout all this stumbling and bumbling, he dropped in the term “Holocaust center” to refer to the Nazi death camps erected throughout eastern and central Europe during World War II.

Social media exploded.

Finally, Spicer spoke to NBC News and offered a fulsome apology for the mistakes he made. I give him great credit for refusing to say, “If I offended anyone … “, which I consider to be the phoniest form of apology one can offer. He took ownership of his inarticulateness.

He came to the White House after serving as press secretary for the Republican National Committee. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when Trump selected him. Then, during his first press confrontation, he excoriated the media for reporting that Trump’s inaugural crowd was far smaller than the one that welcome Barack Obama in January 2009.

Actually, young man, the crowd was much smaller. There was no need to scold anyone in the media for reporting the truth. Thus, we heard the term “alternative facts” presented for the first time by another White House adviser, the inimitable Kellyanne Conway.

The president keeps telling us that things are going swimmingly at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., when in fact they are not. The president cannot fill key staff jobs; critical political appointments haven’t been made. So, Mr. President, stop insulting our intelligence by repeating such outright falsehoods about your “fine-tuned machine.”

Now we hear that the annual White House Easter Egg Roll — set for Monday — is in trouble because the administration lacks the staff to assemble an event that has become a staple of first families’ occupancy of the White House.

Speaking of first families, where is the first lady, Melania Trump? Isn’t it her responsibility to put this event together?

I’m actually beginning to pity Sean Spicer. He delivered a clunker of a performance this week. It’s tough being the face and the voice of a presidential administration that doesn’t have a clue.

What about the ‘barrel bombs’?

Donald J. Trump unleashed 59 Tomahawk missiles against Syrian jet fighters and support facilities because of chemical weapons were used against Syrian civilians.

That is a horrific act, to be sure, and the president was right to take action against Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.

Here, though, is the question: What about the barrel bombs that Syrian military forces are dropping on civilian victims?

It is agreed around the world that chemical weapons use must be stopped. The images we see of children writhing in agony are heartbreaking in the extreme.

However, the Syrian government has killed many thousands more innocent victims using barrel bombs, which are devices filled with shrapnel. The bombs explode and the shrapnel flies out, shredding whatever — and whoever — is in its path.

Death by barrel bomb might not be as agonizing — and horrifying to watch — as death by chemical weapon, but Assad’s use of the hideous ordnance needs a stern world response as well.

What is the strategy to deal with this hideous monster? Finally, what are we going to do about the Russian role — the Russians’ complicity — in the use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons?

Time to think strategically, Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump needs to start crafting a strategic thought pattern as it regards Syria.

In a major hurry.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has declared that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s presence in power eliminates any “political solution” to the crisis and the bloodshed. So, what does Nikki Haley recommend to remove Assad?

She isn’t saying, given that it’s not her call.

That decision needs to come from the president of United States. Moreover, it needs to be made with a complete understanding of what will happen if we manage to implement “regime change” in Syria.

This situation is getting more than a little scary. Sure, we launched some Tomahawk missiles at a military target in response to Syria’s use of chemical gas on civilians. The result of that strike is mixed … at best.

What is the next course of action? What is the president planning and what will be the consequence? Will he consult with Congress, which Republican leaders used to demand of President Obama whenever he sought to take military action against the Islamic State or al-Qaeda? For that matter, where are the demands for congressional approval now that Trump is president?

Do we go in with guns blazing?

Trump used to think it was in our national interest to stay out of Syria. Let the Russians handle ISIS, he once said. Let the Syrian government root out the terrorists, he added.

No more.

Now that we have entered the fight — even in this limited fashion — there needs to be some thought given to an “end game” if we choose to escalate this military intervention.

Think strategically, Mr. President, if you are able.