These are two tweets from Donald Trump, in June 2013 and August 2013 respectively, giving his warped opinion on the crisis in Syria, and how he thinks Obama should act. Now, with these tweets in mind, consider the fact that President Trump just ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike the Al Shayrat Airfield. This was supposedly in response to the chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 people in Syria, and his newfound sympathy for child suffering.
Trump explained his actions by stating, “Using a deadly nerve agent, [President] Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many…” continuing with, “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack…” and ending with, “No child of God should ever suffer such a horror.” I never thought I would get to say this sentence, but I fully agree with Trump. He is right; men, women, and children died after immense suffering, and no child should ever suffer such a fate.
Okay, wonderful; we agree that this is a horrific situation – now the logical conclusion, imbued with compassion, would be that we as part of a global community should do everything in our power to help save as many people as possible, right? And here is where I yet again come to the conclusion that President Trump is a hypocrite. You absolutely cannot just bomb a country because you are supposedly moved by their suffering, while also refusing entry to and demonizing those refugees fleeing violence and war. The refugees are the victims, not the perpetrators. They are not the terrorists; they are trying to escape the terror they face, and massive generalizations on Trump’s part about the refugee community only allow for the continued demonization of these people, drumming up anti-refugee sentiment and swaying public opinion based on xenophobic ideology.
This is just the latest example of President Trump’s hypocrisy, yet this is perhaps the most egregious of all. I do not believe for one second that you can support random and possibly useless intervention in the form of missile strikes, furthering more instability and uncertainty in Syria, yet also turn your back on the refugees fleeing these situations. President Trump has clearly attempted to implement policy that keeps refugees out, such as his four month suspension on all refugees being admitted, citing security concerns. He also wants to reduce the number admitted by about half, again citing security concerns and his continued rhetoric of refugees as a Trojan horse. I cite these examples to show that he is not just ‘all talk’, as some suggested; he has evidently made this a priority, and because of this more “children of God” will die.
He claims to have been persuaded to act after seeing the horrific images and videos coming out of Syria, depicting innocent civilians suffering the effects of a chemical attack, yet if this was truly the case he would be moved to act with more compassion and back off from his problematic ban on refugees entering the country. If he was actually upset by these attacks he would become part of the solution instead of just another problem for those escaping war and death in their country. A change in his refugee policy would show that as president he is maturing and has come to understand the gravity of the refugee crisis, instead of just using the tragedy in Syria as a political play piece, used to distract from his incompetency and complicate already gray U.S foreign policy.
If President Trump continues to portray refugees as dangerous terrorists and continues barring them from reaching safety in our country, all while speaking about how moved to action he is by the horror he is seeing in Syria, then he is no more than a hypocrite. This is equivalent to a person who stands on the shore of the beach where a boat full of refugees needs to land, saying that they are moved by their refugees’ suffering, but who then refuses to let the boat come to shore. Politicians that continue to not allow the most vulnerable and desperate people to seek refuge are only accomplices to their possible demise.
Also, going back to Trump’s tweets, wherein he criticized former President Obama’s administration for considering intervention in Syria, we can see the duplicity of Trump’s stances. He tweeted that Obama needed congressional approval, yet now that he is President he did not get any himself. Is he somehow above the law? Trump also tweeted the worry of America just gaining more debt from any military action, while also citing concern over the notion of a long term conflict resulting. But he was fully okay with the cost of 59 Tomahawk missiles. The administration has signaled that there has been no formal change of stance on foreign policy, specifically how to deal with the issues surrounding Syria, yet this action by Trump sends a very confused message.
As is evident, I have no respect for this president, for varying reasons which I will not go into detail with here, but most of all I see how he sold everyone a pack of lies. He campaigned on an isolationist stance, highlighting his ‘America First’ ideals, yet so far he has already taken military action in Mosul, Afghanistan, and Syria, directly conflicting with this isolationist stance. In order for him to actually pursue isolationist policy, he would need to remain apart from all international affairs and interests – to note, this is not something I am necessarily advocating for, but merely pointing out that yet again he says one thing and does another. For a man who said that the United States cannot be “the world’s policeman,” he is attempting to be just that.
Though much has changed since these old tweets, a fact I acknowledge, they only show how uneducated he was on these issues just a few short years ago, and I truly doubt much has changed since then. Even with advisors all around him, he is still simply unqualified to be in charge of our ample military capacity, especially since he has proven time and time again to be a narcissistic hothead – a quality we do not want in someone who holds the nuclear launch codes.
To put it simply, Trump is a hypocrite, and is sending a confusing message regarding his administration’s stance on the conflict and resulting crisis in Syria. He cannot simultaneously be hurting for the innocent men, women, and children suffering, and thinking that a mostly useless missile strike will solve anything, while also barring entry to a safe country for all of those fleeing their war torn country. Trump essentially opens the door and then slams it in their faces. Until he either admits that he does not care for the suffering of the Syrian citizens, or he changes his policy to reflect his supposed care for these people, he will remain a hypocrite in my eyes, and the eyes of many Americans.