Trump does like a bit of ballistic braggadocio, doesn’t he? After firing off a wave of air-strikes against Syria, he declares “Mission accomplished” but warns that he is “locked and loaded” for more.
Trying to pick your way through the wreckage is a morally messy business. If you wish to believe absurd headlines like the one in this morning’s Sunday Express – “A STRIKE AT THE HEART OF EVIL” – the problem is solved.
Except that exactly a year ago, Trump ordered another air-strike to punish President Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people. If Assad has again used this vile form of attack, then the tactic is not, as it were, bomb-proof.
Chemical warfare is almost uniquely awful. And yet it must be a puzzle to the poor benighted people on the ground in Syria: they can be blown to pieces and in the wider nobody much minds. Bomb after bomb, year after year – seven years now that Assad has pursued this civil war, backed by Putin’s Russia, and people keep on dying.
There weren’t any good options over Syria. Sending in the missiles lets Trump swagger and boast. The US enjoy Nikki Haley calls the strikes “justified, legitimate and proportionate”, adding: “When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line.”
That man scrawls red lines all over the place, crosses them out, draws another in endless scribbled tweets. He’s unreliable, a narcissist, a nihilist and a proven liar. But sadly, right now he’s allowed to draw those red lines while declaring “God Bless America”.
Mrs Maybe was in such a rush to join in Trump’s missile party that she didn’t pause to consult Parliament. This will now lead to endless arguments, and she deserves to be criticised for her willingness to sanction action without a vote. A vote she knows she may well have lost, as David Cameron did from a stronger position. She side-stepped that one and went “trailing after Donald Trump”, according to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
I think Corbyn has a point there; but what would he have done if he was in power? He’s good at lobbing the verbal missiles, but would he ever give the nod the actual missiles? Is he too much of a pacifist for that; and is that peacefulness a bad thing anyway?
For all the swagger, and yes for all Trump’s ballistic braggadocio, what this is feels like is yet another western intervention in a troubled part of the world because “something had to be done”.
Was this a “good something” or a “bad something” – or was is just a “something-something” that makes big and bellicose men feel better about themselves for a while?
Was it a something that will make things better; or a something that will in time prove to have either been ineffective or a something that made things worse?
If you choose to believe newspapers such as the Sun on Sunday, Assad’s chemical weapon centres were wiped out in two minutes, “setting the capabilities back years”. Do we know that or are we just swallowing the propaganda pills?
Assad should be damned for using chemical weapons, but then we should be damned for standing back while he kills his own people – with reports suggesting that 500,000 have died so far, while millions of others have been turned into refugees.
Just what sort of mission has been accomplished it is hard to say right now; isn’t it?