Tag Archives: Syria

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.

Setting the record straight on Trump critiques

I feel the need to mount a brief self-defense.

Some folks on my social media network have accused me of being perpetually negative toward Donald J. Trump. That is not true.

I pledged when Trump became president of the United States that I would praise him when he did something praiseworthy. Yes, those events have been limited, but I believe I have been faithful to my pledge. For instance:

* I praised Trump’s signing of a bill that made it easer for whistleblowers to rat out wrongdoing within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

* Trump drew praise from yours truly for launching the missile strikes against Syria after the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its citizens, killing many civilians.

* The president and the first lady earned kudos from me when they went to Houston after Hurricane Harvey savaged the Texas coast.

* I offered a follow-up comment on the president taking selfies with victims of Harvey’s wrath, showing a glint of humanity.

* I offered a good word for Trump when he went to Las Vegas recently to lend aid and comfort to the victims of that horrific massacre while offering words of support to the first responders who acted so heroically.

One critic of this blog calls me “bitter” over Hillary’s loss to Trump; another critic thinks all “liberals” look for reasons to speak ill of the president, and he thinks I’m one of ’em.

I’m not bitter. Disappointed, yes. As for looking for reasons to criticize Donald Trump, I never have to hunt for them. They do seem to present themselves with stunning regularity.

So … there you have it. The president has earned praise from yours truly. I want to offer more. First, though, he’s got to earn it.

Mitt was ahead of his time

It’s time for a serious mea culpa.

Mitt Romney once declared during the 2012 presidential campaign that Russia presented the “greatest geopolitical threat” to the United States of America.

I was one of millions of Americans who laughed at the Republican presidential nominee.

Five years later, I regret laughing. I regret dismissing Mitt’s assessment. I regret writing some negative blog posts about what the nominee said.

We are learning today — and in the course of the Donald J. Trump campaign and his presidential administration — that the previous GOP nominee was ahead of his time.

It can be argued, I suppose, that international terrorists presented a greater geopolitical threat than Russia in 2012. Our special forces had just killed Osama bin Laden, but al-Qaeda was still going strong. The Islamic State had emerged as a monstrous threat as well.

The Russians, to my mind, seemed at the time to have been relegated to a back bench.

Silly me. Mitt Romney seems to have been spot on.

The Russians are undermining NATO; they invaded Ukraine; they are propping up a murderous regime in Syria. They also sought to affect the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The startling revelation today from Donald J. Trump Jr. that he accepted a meeting invitation anticipating dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton from the Russian government suggests an existential threat to this nation’s sovereignty.

There’s still a lot of ground to cover before we determine any criminality on the part of the Trump presidential campaign. However, I do believe it is becoming quite clear that the Russians remain a force with which we must reckon.

Gov. Romney, I hereby apologize for doubting you.

Trump’s big mouth threatens to swallow him

That dreaded 100-day “deadline” looms for Donald John Trump. We’re about one week away from it.

Will it produce a winning report card for the president? Will those of us in the peanut gallery be able to call the new president’s start a rousing success, which Trump himself has done already?

I do not believe so.

Does the 100-day mark matter? Perhaps it shouldn’t count as much as it does. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set up this artificial barrier when he took office in 1933 and it’s been held as sort of the benchmark for early presidential success ever since.

But it’s early in any new president’s term. Donald Trump is no different.

Except for one little thing.

All along the way en route to his winning the election, the Republican candidate for president kept telling us about all the things he would accomplish in those first 100 days.

* Affordable Care Act? Repealed and replaced.

* Tax reform? Enacted.

* Draining the swamp of corruption? He’d institute a new government ethic.

What’s happened? The ACA remains. Tax reform hasn’t even been introduced. The swamp is still full.

The president can count precious few legislative triumphs. In fact, I can’t think of any. Can you? He’s signed a lot of executive orders. I particularly like the one that banned government officials from becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving public service.

Sure, he launched that missile strike against Syria after that horrendous chemical weapons attack. I give the president kudos for that action. But he’s got North Korea sounding more threatening than ever; Trump said he dispatched the “great armada” led by the USS Carl Vinson, but the carrier-led strike group to date is nowhere near the Korean Peninsula.

Donald Trump’s very own big mouth has victimized him.

Just maybe once the president gets past this 100-day hurdle, he will decide to tone down his constant boastfulness and learn finally — finally! — that governance requires much more than shooting off one’s big mouth.

Mr. President, we already are in Syria

Donald J. Trump said the other day that the missile strike on a Syrian air force airfield doesn’t mean we are “going into Syria.”

Hold on, Mr. President!

We already are in Syria, sir. President Barack Obama ordered several hundred special forces troops onto that battlefield to assist and train and coordinate attacks launched by “free Syrian” rebels fighting the Russian-backed government of dictator Bashar al Assad.

I also would add that the missiles launched from ships off the Syrian coast suggest that a more serious involvement by the United States in that conflict.

Times and circumstances do change, Mr. President, as you now are learning. Someone will need to remind the president that he used to believe that we should leave the fighting to the rebels. He also used to suggest that Assad’s forces — along with the Russians — could be capable of taking out the Islamic State terrorists.

Let the Russians deal with ISIS, he said. Sure thing, Mr. President. That will work out just fine.

My point, though, is that we already are engaged in Syria. Our special forces put their lives on the line every moment of every day they are deployed there.

The bigger, more important, question is whether we’re going to commit thousands of troops to fight ISIS head to head.

I’m now concerned that the president hasn’t given that option the careful, thoughtful and prayerful consideration it deserves.

UN envoy says what Trump should say … about Russia

Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad gassed citizens, killing dozens of them.

The president of the United States condemns Assad, as he should do; then he lays the blame for the attack on the inaction of former President Barack Obama.

Then in wades the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, to say what should be said: Russia is complicit in this heinous action and must be punished.

My question: Why, oh why, cannot Donald John Trump muster the guts to speak ill of Russia in this regard?

The president continues to remain mum on Russian misbehavior. He cannot admit in public that the Russians hacked into our election system; he cannot agree that Vladimir Putin is a “killer”; he keeps wishing for a more cooperative relationship with Russia.

But, wait, Mr. President. The Russian are bankrolling Assad’s murderous regime in Syria. They are funding the dictator’s ability to obtain the murderous weapons he uses on his citizens.

Ambassador Haley speaks out

The U.N. Security Council is considering a resolution to condemn the Russians over this attack. Russia is one of the five permanent council members and has the authority to veto any such resolution. Where is the president on this one? Will he condemn the Russians if they veto a resolution that seeks to slap additional sanctions on them?

Ambassador Haley said this, according to The Hill: “Russia has shielded Assad from U.N. sanctions. If Russia has the influence in Syria that it claims it has, we need to see them use it,” Haley said at an emergency meeting of the council. “We need to see them put an end to these horrific acts. How many more children have to die before Russia cares.”

Mr. President, it’s your turn now. It’s time for you to “tell it like it is” concerning Russia.

Stop the blame game, Mr. POTUS

Leadership doesn’t involve blaming someone else for problems one inherits.

So, what does Donald John Trump do? He lays the blame for the Syrian gas attack on civilians on the inaction of his predecessor, Barack Obama. The president calls Obama’s “weakness” in dealing with Syria for the heinous act that occurred at the hand of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.

What about the here and now?

The president rightly calls the action reprehensible. But what is the current occupant of the White House going to do about it?

I must stipulate that I am acutely aware of the many times President Obama laid blame on his predecessor for the financial collapse he inherited when he took office in January 2009. The new president, though, then got to work and sought to stimulate the economy to prevent a total collapse of its underpinnings.

I am waiting for the current president to assert his own world view  and to deal forthrightly with the Middle East crises that he inherited from Obama — and the many men who preceded both of them as president.

Trump’s assigning of blame dates back to President Obama’s failure to act on Syria’s crossing the “red line” when it used chemical weapons in a previous action. OK, I get that.

The here and now, though, requires leadership that looks forward and ceases blaming others.

Listen to this guy, Mr. President-elect

mccain

One might not expect Donald J. Trump to take much of what Sen. John McCain has to say all that seriously … even about things with which he is intimately familiar.

After all, Trump said McCain wasn’t “really a war hero” during the Vietnam War, adding that “I like people who weren’t captured, OK?”

McCain, though, offers a serious word of advice to the president-elect: Do not make nice with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/john-mccain-trump-no-putin-231423

According to Politico: “Vladimir Putin has rejoined Bashar Assad in his barbaric war against the Syrian people with the resumption of large-scale Russian air and missile strikes in Idlib and Homs,” the Arizona senator who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said in a statement. “Another brutal assault on the city of Aleppo could soon follow.”

“With the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States,” McCain added. “We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies and attempted to undermine America’s elections.”

And Trump wants to try to get Putin on our side? He wants to link arms with the Russians in a fight to the death against the Islamic State?

McCain is correct to underscore Putin’s one-time role as the head of the Soviet spy agency, the KGB.

I’m no fan of McCain, although I certainly honor his service during the Vietnam War. He’s a war hero, no matter what Trump has said about him. McCain also understands the world stage in a way that Trump hasn’t even begun to grasp.

I almost can hear Trump now: “Who is this guy McCain telling me how to conduct foreign policy. I mean, I won a presidential election. He’s a loser.”

Sure, McCain lost the 2008 election. He knows his way around the world stage. The new president would do well to heed this man’s advice.

War gets a new face

This little boy is likely to become the new face of humankind’s ability to inflict inhumane pain and suffering.

He is a 5-year-old Syrian boy whose home was bombed in an air strike in the city of Aleppo, where the youngster lives with his parents.

A CNN anchor broke down and cried today when she reported on the youngster’s wounds and on the carnage that’s occurring within his country.

The boy’s name is Omran Daqneesh.

I don’t know at this moment whether he is alive. Nor do I know the fate of his parents.

The Syrian civil war has killed at least a quarter-million people. The Islamic State is seeking to toss out the government of Bashar al Assad. The Russian air force is supporting Assad. The United States opposes Assad’s government and is working to destroy ISIS.

Who dropped the bomb that obliterated Omran’s house? We don’t know. It appears to have been a Russian air strike.

Will the image on the video attached to this post do anything to end the violence? Probably not.

It’s worth looking at this video, time and again, just to understand the hideousness of war and the irreparable damage it inflicts on the world’s most defenseless victims.