Trump Goes Full Bush In Syria

Updated on April 17, 2018

In case you've missed the headlines over the past twelve hours, last night a joint American-English-French force struck Bashar al-Assad regime in retaliation to the chemical attack on Syrian civilians last week. The joint strike group bombed a chemical storage center and a command facility in Homs, along with hitting a military research establishment in the capital of Damascus. No casualties have been reported yet on either side, but the strikes have allegedly impaired Syrian military capabilities. Just as the President stood before the camera's at 9 PM EST, jet bombers lit up the skies over Syria.

Trump Announces Syria Round 2
Trump Announces Syria Round 2

The strikes come at a time when it otherwise seems that the civil war is winding down. Despite violent battles raging between the rebels and the al-Assad government, ISIS has lost over 60% of the territory they held at their peak in 2014. The rebels have been pushed back to several small border pockets, mostly thanks to disorganization within the rebellion and the support for the Syrian government by Russia. It appears now only a matter of time before the opposition is defeated, leaving the northern Kurdish stronghold (who seem to have greater US support than the rebels) as the Syrian governments last threat.

Situation in Syria, as of April 2018. Red stars indicate targets of the joint strikes.
Situation in Syria, as of April 2018. Red stars indicate targets of the joint strikes.

History Repeats

Following a similar gas attack last April, President Trump ordered nearly 60 cruise missiles to hit a Syrian airfield. While keeping the strike limited, and unmanned, he attempted to send a clear signal that the West would not tolerate the use of internationally banned weapons, especially when used against civilians. Trump sought to limit the attack though, as to avoid the US from getting sucked into another endless Middle Eastern war.

The strike last night differs however in that not only was it conducted in close cooperation with major NATO allies, but also in that it deployed, for the first time, manned military assets directly against the al-Assad regime. In announcing the bombings Trump stated that the Syrian gas attack was not "the actions of a man, they are crimes of a monster" and that "we are prepared to sustain this response."

Trumps words may indicate a shifting stance, when just weeks ago he stated he wants US forces to leave Syria "very quickly." The President has recently dismissed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor HR McMaster, two longtime proponents of diplomacy, and has sought to replace them with Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, respectively. Both men are widely considered to be hawkish in their stances on foreign affairs, with Bolton in particular being of concern. As George Bush's Ambassador to the UN, Bolton warned Bush about the growing stockpile of WMD's Iraq possessed, a claim later found to be false.

Paleoconservative

On the campaign trail, Trump was considered to be a paleoconservative in regards to foreign policy. He consistently denied supporting the Iraq War, despite being quoted on Howard Stern supporting the actions in the early days of the conflict. He also believed it was time for some nation building back home, echoing the words of former president Obama in 2011. Trump's stance on trade and immigration also contributed to his paleocon reputation.

Bush however, is widely considered a neoconservative in that he believes it is the duty of the free world to spread democracy by any means necessary. He signed a plethora of free-trade agreements with nations across the globe, and sought sweeping immigration reform that would grant 12 million illegally residing aliens a path to US citizenship. Trump, as we've seen, is polar opposite in his views on these issues.

Mission Accomplished

Following the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Bush delivered his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, in which he announced the end of major US military operations in Iraq. What followed of course, was nearly a decade of bloody insurgency rebellion, that ultimately claimed more American lives than the invasion itself.

At the conclusion of last nights attack, the President took to his favorite medium, Twitter, to proclaim victory.

Then-President Bush stands on the deck of the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.
Then-President Bush stands on the deck of the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.
Trump Tweets victory in Syria
Trump Tweets victory in Syria

Of course, Syria is not Iraq and Trump has repeatedly indicated he's not interested in regime change, whereas Bush never hid his love for the idea. As it stands, few American ground troops are stationed in Syria, excluding special forces and military advisers, and it doesn't appear a major force is being assembled anytime soon.

After last years strike, al-Assad and his Russian allies swore to retaliate, but little action followed. It's too early to tell if last night indicated an escalation of Syria, or if it will deter them from gassing their own civilians, but it has unintentionally mimicked the actions of Trump's unpopular Republican predecessor.

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Truman dropped the big bomb. Kennedy did; "President Kennedy approves sending 400 Special Forces troops and 100 other U.S. military advisers to South Vietnam".

      Trump, the MOAB and Syria?

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 5 weeks ago from Orange County California

      "BradmasterOCcall,

      Thanks for your input. Very constructive!

      If you don't enjoy the content here feel free to move on to something more self-satisfying to Trump.

      Thanks,

      Drew Jeffers"

      What I don't find satisfying is your mixed message, above.

      As well as I wrote a very detailed argument for my comment. And I would have hope for a better reply.

      I will be moving on, so don't bother to reply.

      Eric

      Really Kennedy, and Truman

      What war did they monger?

      LBJ not Kennedy did Vietnam

      FDR and not Truman did WWII

      GW Bush did Iraq and Afghanistan

      Obama didn't help that with ISIL and we still have Afghanistan.

      Just a thought:)

      ????

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting and yes very biased. Informative and well written. I don't find anything offensive about bias. Disliking bias is like telling a child "don't feel that way" it is wrong. I kind of place LIncoln, Truman, Kennedy and Nixon at the top of warmongers.

    • Drew Jeffers profile image
      Author

      Drew Jeffers 5 weeks ago from New York

      BradmasterOCcall,

      Thanks for your input. Very constructive!

      If you don't enjoy the content here feel free to move on to something more self-satisfying to Trump.

      Thanks,

      Drew Jeffers

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 5 weeks ago from Orange County California

      Drew

      This was totally biased, and there is no comparison between Bush and Trump.

      Both Bush presidents and Obama made president Bill Clinton look like the good president in contrast.

      The Bush invasion of Iraq followed his invasion of Afghanistan and neither country posed anymore threat that than of North Korea or Iran for example. And we haven't invaded these countries and they do have WMD.

      President GW Bush is more like LBJ when LBJ took 15,000 troops in Vietnam and then added 535,000 more troops and we still lost the war. President Bush lost both Iraq and Afghanistan. And president Obama allowed the Islamic State to take geography from Syria, and Iraq.

      GW Bush like Obama worked the intelligence agencies to fit whatever scenario they neither to start a war or a regime change.

      Why is a president changing his mind and his tactics a bad thing? You make it sound like president Trump shouldn't act based on his goal dynamically. The world changes every hour, and every day.

      The president has to make decisions based on what they know at the time, and the US intelligence agencies have proven that we can't take their words.

      I don't agree that Syria needed to be bombed, but I also don't believe that we need to make Russia an enemy once again. Russia and the US have a common enemy terrorists, and making Russia a terrorist is not a good idea.

      As far as the Tweets, you should be applauding a 71 year old for using the latest media in modern day communication technology. The majority of people are online, they have drifted away from the ancient communication media of radio, TV and newspapers.

      And the newspapers have been biased for president Obama during his presidency, and against Trump since he turned democrat.

      With Twitter we get the raw information from the source, and we the people are in charge of how we interpret that information.

      Sorry to say even the title of your article is both biased, and wrong.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Good piece. Really close to unbiased, at least enough to make it readable.

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