The US, UK, and France launched missiles in an attack on Syria on April 13 in a stated attempt to destroy chemical weapons facilities allegedly involved in attacks on civilians the previous week, April 7, according to Vox.
These airstrikes bring up several questions. Did the Syrian government use chemical weapons on its civilians on April 7, and if so, why does that necessitate US intervention? And have our previous interventions worked?
With regard to the first question, it is unclear whether Assad used chemical weapons on civilians. According to ABC, Russian and Syrian media claim that the chemical attack was a Western hoax, but this accusation is baseless.
However, as reported by ABC, independent chemical weapons experts are still testing the attack site to determine whether anyone used chemical weapons, and it is still unclear.
According to ABC, “the inspectors’ visit to Douma and sample collection would allow the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to proceed with an independent investigation to determine what chemicals, if any, were used.”
This means that, at the time of our bombing of Syria last week, the US had no independent evidence to suggest that chemical weapons were even used. Perhaps Assad did use chemical weapons; it wouldn’t be surprising, but at this point, no one can definitively say that the Syrian Regime used chemical weapons on civilians.
In her appearance on Euronews, Carla del Ponte, a former member of the UN-created Independent International Commision of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, claimed that the rebels and the government had both used chemical weapons. She went on to state that she did not know whether the rebels or the government used chemical weapons more.
Her testimony suggests that the government in Syria is not the only party in the Syrian conflict that has and will use chemical weapons, which is why the US should have waited for an investigation before we accused and bombed Assad.
However, if we did actually have proof that Assad used chemical weapons, that does not mean that the US attack on Syria was necessary.
Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, around half a million people have died, as reported by The New York Times, and the vast majority of these deaths were undoubtedly due to conventional weapons. Assad attacks Syrian cities with regular weapons, but the US hasn’t intervened over that, so clearly stopping Assad from using chemical weapons will not end the atrocities going on in Syria.
Also, when analyzing these strikes, it is important to ask the question, are these attacks making the US safer? According to NBC, the United States is currently airstriking seven countries, “Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.” The United States has bombed all of these countries, except Syria, for decades now and it has not made them safer. In fact, these attacks have only destabilized the targeted countries.
Attacks on Syria will only undermine the country more and risk war with Russia, which according to The New York Times has troops and operates jets in Syria. One wrong move by America or Russia in this tense region could lead to war, and for some reason, we have glibly decided to become even more involved.
These attacks don’t bring back the dead and have the potential to cause many more casualties. But despite this, the US government headed by Trump believes that we are the moral arbiters of what is an acceptable use of force even though we kill children every day with drone attacks in the Middle East.
Our aggression also lays the groundwork for an overthrow of Assad, which would be disastrous. We have seen through the examples of Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq that when the US tries to overthrow a monstrous government, a power vacuum occurs that brings chaos to the country.
Despite what I have said so far, it is a tragedy when civilians die in war, but US intervention will not help the problem; it is the problem. Military force will only make the situation worse as we have learned time and time again.