Bombing of Syria and the Politics of Distraction

Last week, the world gasped in horror at the surmounting carnage in Syria after the use of chemical weapons that killed dozens of civilians. The use of chemical weaponry is not only despicable because it violates international law, but it violates the rights of human decency and dignity. In response to the horrific incident, the President of the United States ordered the bombing of the Syrian government, suggesting that he felt compassion towards those who were suffering.

At least, that was the rhetoric that he preached. In his actions, he stated that he was sending a message that the United States would always act with the full force of its military might in order to prevent and deter the use of chemical weapons. But was this actually the case? The answer is a resounding NO! Trump ordered the strikes on Syria to deflect attention from his dealings with the Russian oligarchs, and to improve his domestic approval ratings. Prior to the military strike, Trump was called all sorts of names in the book by the media, Republicans and Democratic elected officials. But right after Syria was bombed, Trump became the beloved of the establishment and all of a sudden the bombing of Syria launched Trump into being presidential. Trump has also been lavished with encomiums from all quarters including the media, Republicans and even from Congressional Democrats – Sen. Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senate Minority Leader and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader.

Trump’s actions are not without precedent. The politics of distraction that uses military strikes for the purposes of deflection and approval ratings runs deep in America. For instance, President Bill Clinton authorized military attack on Iraq over the alleged Saddam Hussein’s assassination attempt on the life of President Bush senior during his official visit to Kuwait in 1993. President Clinton’s approval ratings were in the 30s at the time but immediately after the U.S. display of military muscular power – his approval ratings soared!

Then again in 1998, President Clinton approved the bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical company in Sudan which was suspected to be Osama bin Laden chemical weapon plant. Forensic evidence later proved the allegation to be wrong; the pharmaceutical factory was owned by Salah El Din Ahmed Mohammed Idris and Osama bin Laden had no ties to the company. But here’s the distractive force of that military authorization – it was carried out the same day of the president’s testimony in his perjury trial. Could this have been an honest coincidence? Sure! But given the pattern that has been established here and what Clinton faced at the time, his actions are much more insidious.

In the same 1998, President Clinton also ordered another bombing of Iraq – this time the American people were told that it was necessary to degrade Saddam Hussein’s ability to produce weapons of mass destruction. Again, the bombing took place on the eve of United States House of Representatives’ vote on President Clinton’s impeachment.

There’s a duplicitous strategy which we’ve all bought into irrespective of our political persuasions. We’ve been tricked into believing that in order to stop the production of weapons and terror, that the U.S. needs to bomb its enemies. However, the problem here is not about the presence of weapons of MASS DESTRUCTION abroad, but the prevalence of MASS DISTRACTION right here at home!

As a presidential candidate, Trump sold himself to the nation as an outsider and anti-establishment. Truth be told, he might have not been directly involved as a politician but he has never been an outsider. He knows how the game works, and that was why he tweeted back in 2012 about the correlation between military strikes and presidential approval ratings.

Although, I am a proud Democrat, I have not written this piece from the vantage point of my party stance but by virtue of my citizenry as an American. In America, we count the bombing of other nations by Democratic or Republican administrations, but the rest of the world sees one America. For this same reason, I believe that the onus is on us as a people to wean our government off of its addiction of bombing lives for cheap political approval ratings. After all, if dropping bombs on other people is one of the criteria for presidents to approved in our eyes, what kind of people are we?

 

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