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Syria is Not Trump's War

Rich Galen

Monday April 9, 2017

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  • There was yet another chemical attack on civilians by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It occurred in Douma which, according to Wikipedia is only "about six miles northeast of the centre of Damascus."

  • In the nature of these things, it is difficult - beyond the headline - to know exactly what happened and how many people were affected. According to the BBC as many as 70 people have been reported killed with more than 500 affected.

  • Photos of infants, in diapers, breathing with the help of oxygen masks were rife on the Internet Sunday.

  • Even with the gas cloud of war, one thing is certain: This was not Donald Trump's fault.

  • Trump, in his frenzy of announcements and pronouncements, appointments and dismissals over the past few weeks, announced the he wanted American troops out of Syria.

  • Soon.

  • According to The Hill newspaper, "The U.S. has about 2,000 troops in Syria." That number, just for setting a benchmark, is at the lower end of the 2,000-4,000 troops Trump wants to send to the Mexican border.

  • Trump has apparently been talked out of leaving Syria totally to the Russians, the Iranians, and ISIS. Just as he was dissuaded from pulling out of Afghanistan and leaving it to the Taliban.

  • But, in saying he wanted to pull troops out of the region, he violated one of his basic principals: "Don't tell your enemies what you're going to do."

  • On March 19, 2013 the Syrians used chemical weapons to attack civilians in Aleppo and a Damascus suburb.

  • During a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the next day Barack Obama, according to the White House transcript, was asked by a reporter:
    You have said today and also in the past that the use of chemical weapons would be a crossing of a red line. It seems like this line was crossed yesterday. What specifically do you intend to do about it?

  • Obama, again according to the official transcript, responded in part:
    I've instructed my teams to work closely with all of the countries in the region and international organizations and institutions to find out precisely whether or not this red line was crossed.

  • It was, but when it came time to act, Obama flipped his "Veto Pen" over and erased the red line he had rhetorically drawn.

  • The U.K. Guardian reported that, according to an NGO named the "Syrian-American Medical Society," there have been
    "161 chemical attacks in Syria, details of which were gathered from doctors operating on the ground in the areas that bore the brunt of chemical warfare, and which led to the deaths of 1,491 people and 14,581 injuries due to exposure to chemicals."

  • None of those were Trump's fault, either.

  • Even if you haven't followed the shifting sands of the alliances and estrangements in the region - Syrians, Iranians, Russians, Americans, Sunni and Shi'a Iraquis, Kurds and Iraquis, Kurds and Turks You name them, they hate each other in Mesopotamia.

  • Sheldon Harnick wrote a song called the "Merry Minuet" made marginally famous by the Kingston Trio - a folk music group of the 1960s.

  • One of the lines went:
    Italians hate Yugoslavs
    South Africans hate the Dutch
    And I don't like anybody very much.

  • When Assad launched a chemical attack shortly after Trump took office, just one year ago, Trump responded by ordering 59 Tomahawk missiles to attack the airbase where it was determined the chemicals were stored and/or prepared.

  • Amazing as it seems, that was exactly 59 more Tomahawk missiles than Obama ordered up after Assad danced over the red line Obama had drawn.

  • The current environment requires that, no matter what happens and, no matter where it happens, everyone feels it necessary to choose up sides as to who is responsible.

  • The man that is responsible of this weekend's chemical attacks is Bashar al-Assad - likely with an assist from Vladimir Putin.

  • Whomever. Donald Trump didn't drop those chemical weapons on babies.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to a very detailed listing of chemical attacks in Syria, to the U.K. Guardian, to the history of Mesopotamia, to the Shel Silverstein song, and to that April 2017 Tomahawk Missile response.

    The Mullfoto is of a cherry tree in full bloom.

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