Saturday, April 8, 2017

I Hesitate to Endorse President Trump's Attack

   I hesitate to endorse President Trump's attack on Syria. I might endorse it, but I will be slow. I do not condone the use of chemical weapons that resulted in 86 or however many deaths. And, yes, I do think such things call for response.
   But, was Trump's attack the appropriate response? We launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at the air base in Syria that is suspected to be the home of the planes involved in the chemical attack earlier in the week.
    And, if I hear correctly, eight or nine civilians were among the casualties. Now, if you are attacking an air base, perhaps you are not expecting to take out civilians. I still pause, though, because, allegedly, we did take out civilians. If civilians were, indeed, killed, could it have been avoided?
   For what it is worth, as I study the issue, I hear that 23 civilians were killed in the Jan. 29 attack in Yemen that also took out a Navy SEAL.
   I know that war can only be so surgical, that some civilians are going to die. But, I still feel you keep them to the minimal, and when you can, to zero. When you are in the midst of battles in the middle of wars, that is when it is least likely you can keep civilian deaths to zero. Often, you can't choose the battlefield, and civilians are in it. But, when you are planning an optional, surgical, single-day attack, perhaps you should be expected to keep the deaths to zero.
   Killing someone to protest the death of others is not an appropriate response.
   Still, despite all my concern about the loss of civilian life, I cannot but come back to the reality that an air base is singularly a military facility, and, as such, an appropriate target. While I think we should be asking how we ended up killing civilians, while I think we should be very concerned and disheartened, I conclude that the attack on Syria appears appropriate.
   On a separate concern not addressed in this column, I am not yet convinced Trump acted within his powers, nor within international law, but the military action is in line with what past presidents have done.
   This would leave but the concern that the Syrians are not the ones responsible for the chemical attack. On that, I wonder but what the strike might have been justified, anyway.
(Note: the second sentence and last three paragraphs were added hours after this column was written.)

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