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Trump, Syria and tragedy

by Tori Martinez - Managing Editor
Tue, Apr 24th 2018 05:00 pm

I click through images of Syria — a country that is burning and crumbling as its own people kill each other while hundreds of thousands of others try to escape — and I am constantly reminded of how privileged I am to live in the United States. Thanks to the sheer luck of being born in a country with an unnecessarily large military that is able to fight overseas so as not to start a war here, I am able to wake up every day, and go to college or work. 

Aside from the constant fear of another mass shooting, Americans can step out of their front doors and go about their incredibly diverse schedules. Meanwhile, poor, innocent Syrian men, women and children, who were unlucky enough to be born in a war-stricken country with daily shootings and bombings, are hiding in dark basements without basic “luxuries” like pillows or clean clothing, stuck with little food and even less water. 

This is nothing new. A civil war has been raging in Syria since 2013, and the U.S. has done little to help. Depending on how you see it, that could be a good thing or a bad thing. But regardless of where you stand on the issue of getting involved in another country’s civil war, it can be hard to hear about hundreds of thousands of people who have died or been displaced from their homes at the hands of their government. 

Since before he was even “elected” president, Trump has publically disregarded countless Syrian refugees in the name of protecting the U.S. from terrorists. Just a few weeks ago, he decided that bombing three of the places where chemical weapons are allegedly being made to kill civilians would be his way of helping in their fight. 

The airstrikes in Syria led by Trump on Friday, April 13, were sent as a warning against chemical attacks on civilians, initiated by a tweet he sent out two days before.

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia,  because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” Trump tweeted.

In a speech on the night of the strikes, Trump told the gruesome stories of how the Syrian government was using chemical weapons against innocent civilians, explaining that this was the reason for his decision to bomb a scientific research center, chemical storage facility and command center without first getting congressional approval, The New York Times and The Washington Post report.

The fact of the matter is that Trump and his administration don’t care about Syrians at all. Trump spent the summer banning all refugees and new arrivals from Syria, which has resulted, according to Vox, in our country’s acceptance of only 11 refugees since January and 44 since the fiscal year began in October. So although the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that nearly half a million people have been killed since the beginning of the war, Trump decides that a chemical weapons attack “is about humanity” and wants to do something to show President Bashar al-Assad that America doesn’t support those attacks.

Striking Syria has not and will not stop chemical attacks on civilians. If anything, it will only put more civilians at risk of dying, as well as our own country getting into something bigger with Syria or Russia. And say for the sake of the argument that all chemical attacks ceased, what would we do to help civilians then? Continue to ban them from entering our country? Make it increasingly difficult for them to leave their country at all? Would we help them rebuild their country, and if so, how? There is no point in pretending to care about 50 or so people while we stand idly by as thousands die or suffer. 

A Washington Post article from August 2017 explains that airstrikes aimed at ISIS in Raqqa, Syria had been killing hundreds of civilians at the time. While I’m sure Trump would justify those deaths by saying that they were in the name of defeating ISIS, it is clear that as a country, we are willing to sacrifice innocent lives without as much as a second thought. My concern is that in the process of bombing the bad guys, we’re going to kill a lot of people who are also trying to escape the bad guys.

Striking Syria isn’t going to help this country of ours. More than anything, a strike condones violence and creating a breeding ground for people to feel victimized, as though they have a right to protect themselves and their allies now, possibly leading to more attacks against civilians. If we are going to act like we care about the crimes against humanity in Syria, we need to think of a more effective way to help the country long term. 

 

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