The first thought that crossed my mind when I heard about the U.S. Tomahawk missile strike on a Syrian air base Thursday was “here we go again.”
We have a new president who campaigned partly on halting the practice of America always being the policeman for the entire world and sticking our nose in places where it doesn’t belong.
So then we turn around and take such military action in Syria, one many say was justified but still could subject U.S. troops in the region to deadly retaliation. And we wonder why we end up in still another full-scale Vietnam-style war.
Of course, who wouldn’t be affected by the horrendous images of victims of a chemical weapons attack launched by Syria President Bashar Hafez al-Assad this week against innocent citizens in a province held by rebels battling his government?
About 75 people, including children, died after choking and foaming at the mouth from the attack and many more were injured.
Sure, such a terrible act perpetrated by a leader on his own people deserves some type of swift and stern retaliation. Yet isn’t that the job of the United Nations, whose objectives include maintaining international peace and security and safeguarding human rights — sometimes prompting a collective military response?
No, once again the U.S. has put its forces on the line with the Syrian strike.
It seems that after years of Middle East entanglements with Iran, Iraq and others, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and many American tax dollars, we still haven’t learned our lesson. Donald Trump himself has estimated that $6 trillion has been spent on conflicts in that region.
And was anything really accomplished?
It can be argued that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 by then-President George W. Bush and his cronies was the greatest foreign policy blunder in our history.
Not only did we displace a relatively stable government in Iraq, we had nothing to replace it with and the invasion tilted the power structure in the Middle East in favor of Iran — which since has pounded its chest with nuclear weapons development.
The same thing occurred elsewhere, in Libya with the U.S.-supported ouster of leader Muammar Gaddafi, which has produced the same kind of void.
Based on everything that’s happened up to now, wouldn’t you think it’s about time we cut our losses once and for all in areas of chaos fueled by centuries-old religious disputes someone would require a doctorate to understand?
Instead, we launch missiles, which hopefully will teach the Syrian president a lesson. But as crazy as Assad has proven himself to be, who knows how he might react, and the same goes for the Russian forces supporting him.
One of the first things taught in military strategy courses is that the enemy has a vote, too. You can devise what might look like the perfect battle plan, but more times than not there are unforeseen circumstances or unintended consequences.
While deep down Americans would like to think it’s great to do something to avenge the deaths of innocent kids from a chemical attack, there are plenty of other places in the world where children are suffering because of political strife and corruption. That includes Africa, and here again it seems wiser to let the United Nations take the lead role with such problems.
The skeptical among us might suspect that the underlying reasons behind our missile strike in Syria involve the usual suspects. In the past these have included America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil and protecting Israel, but due to developing increased energy resources within our own borders, it recently seems more about Iran and Israel.
Already, Iran is threatening some kind of action against the U.S. over Syria, and that likely would bring a counter-action by the U.S. — which Israel has been coaxing all along because Iran is considered its biggest threat.
As far as that part of the equation, it’s time we let Israel take care of itself for a change.
Enough American resources and manpower have been poured into the Middle East for the protection of Israel, the most-militarized, hard-line nation on Earth whose top objective is to maintain its existence even if that means the eradication of everyone else.
We should pull out of the Middle East and let all the various factions there fight their little religious wars among themselves.
It is unrealistic for the United States to adopt a total isolationist stance, because trouble could find its way to our borders instead of being defused in the places it originates.
But our lone wolf Middle East madness somehow needs to end.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.