France President Emmanuel Macron, United States President Donald Trump, and United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May. Image from Luxembourg Times
By JOHN EICHER
OPINION- In response to the use of chemical weapons in an attack on Damascus, the United States, United Kingdom and France led a joint missile strike against the government of Assad on Saturday, April 14th.
Striking three different locations within Syria’s capital, the attack has ignited a global conflict between world powers.
The strike has been publicly denounced by the Iranian and Russian governments.
“A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened,” Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antoniv said. “We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences. All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.”
Despite the ominous threat made against allied powers and the conjoining support of virulent nations, President Trump tweeted out the day after the attack “Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”
The phrasing of the tweet is ironically appropriate, given former President George Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech and its prolonged miscalculation of the Iraq war. After a series of successful airstrikes were made against Iraq, President Bush addressed the nation against a giant banner that stated “mission accomplished.”
Though the speech was made in 2003, the conflict went on until President Obama pulled U.S. forces out of Iraq in 2011, persisting eight years past the initial speech. Although the Syrian strike itself is indeed finished, the lasting ramifications of the assault are only just beginning to come too light.
According to an assessment released by the White House, the Assad government is still capable of producing chemical weapons, despite the attack.
“If not stopped, Syria has the ability to produce and use more chemical weapons. The Syrian military retains expertise from its traditional chemical weapons agent program to both use sarin and produce and deploy chlorine munitions. The United States also assesses the regime still has chemicals—specifically, sarin and chlorine—that it can use in future attacks and that the regime retains the expertise necessary to develop new weapons,” the release stated.
Assad maintaining chemical weapon capability is troubling, given the government’s allied support of Russia, and the recent nerve agent attacks in the United Kingdom from Russian forces. Trump has stated that he wants to pull troops out of Syria within the next six months, but the future timeline of the conflict remains uncertain given the escalated use of chemical weapons in recent months.
The United States, United Kingdom and France launched the strike to prevent the production of chemical weapons; a capability Assad has managed to maintain.
Though Syria may be vastly outgunned in terms of militaristic capabilities, Russia and Iran’s continued support of the nation presents a global threat. Despite the president’s six month estimation, it is highly unlikely the United States will pull out of Syria if it is still capable of producing chemical weapons.
Surmising the strike on Damascus as an isolated event woefully ignores the nations past in the middle east, particularly in its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
The attack on Assad’s government may have been a necessary intervention, but far from a simple one. The lasting ramifications continue to present themselves as time progresses and though the mission have been accomplished, the casualties behind the attack are far from resolved.