Five Lessons to Be Learned from the U.S. Strikes Against Assad

Ahmadi Nasab,

Less than 72 hours after Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in Syria, America responded by targeting the air base used for the gas attacks. The primary motive for the strikes doubtless is to restore America’s moral leadership. The level of disharmony at the international level and the United Nations makes America the only power that had the necessary resources to respond unilaterally to the heinous acts of the brutal Syrian dictator.

At the same time that the strike by the Trump administration signals a shift in American policy towards Assad’s regime, it also bears other lessons for other enemies and adversaries.

  1. Assad can no longer use chemical weapons and escape the consequences

The fast and furious U.S. response is a signal for Assad that any future chemical attack will be met with an even stronger response by America. Mainly due to the disengagement policy of the Obama administration and the inability of the United Nations to react because of Russian opposition, Assad regularly used chemical weapons and barrel bombs against civilians. The current administration understands the causal role of human rights violations in fueling the conflict in Syria. In UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s words, “human rights abuses are not the byproduct of conflict—they are the cause of conflict.” In this light, responding to Assad’s brutality is not only a moral imperative, but also a move toward stability in Syria.

    2.  The fight against ISIS is no excuse for inaction against Assad

Since the rise of ISIS, the world community has been narrowly focused on the barbaric crimes perpetrated by the extremist group. It was assumed by many actors that addressing Assad’s violation of international human rights would distract from the main issue. The missile strikes against Assad in response to his use of chemical weapons sends the message to allies and adversaries that punishing Assad does not conflict with, and can be conducted simultaneous to fighting ISIS.   

    3.  America is taking on the leading role in the Syrian crisis

Before the missile strikes, it was assumed by many regional powers that the main power involved in Syria was Russia. Obama’s disengagement policy had provided Putin with a golden opportunity to re-claim Russia’s position as a world power by entering the Syrian conflict to prop up Assad. In addition, Iran and Hezbollah, assured of the inaction of the United States, deployed their forces and proxies into Syria, where they have been mainly responsible for the prolongation of the civil war. America is regaining the upper hand after the bold move by the Trump administration. It is important to note that the United States acted unilaterally, without informing or seeking permission from any other actor, signaling that the strikes mark a first big step in the direction of America’s new role in the Syrian conflict. This new state of affairs will undoubtedly encourage a reality check by Russia and Iran.

    4. Russia needs to revise its support for Assad

As long as it did not hit any major resistance from a major power, Putin’s support for Assad was in Moscow’s interest, and Russia partially regained the prestige of a superpower.  However, with the U.S. taking the field against Assad, continued Russian support for the Syrian dictator would only cost Russia without providing any advantage or benefit. Assad lost all legitimacy long ago. By discontinuing his support for Assad and joining the multilateral effort to oust him, Putin can continue to be a major player.

     5. The U.S. sees Assad as the obstacle to a political resolution of the crisis

The targeting of Assad’s air base sends the message that the United States considers the Syrian regime as an obstacle to a resolution of the conflict. The Trump administration understands that Assad’s brutalities are a causal element; therefore, removing Assad from power would benefit the goal of stability and peace in Syria. The Geneva agreement, which is the basis of current talks among the parties involved in the conflict, outlines a framework for the peaceful transition of power from Assad to an interim government. In the past, again because of American disengagement, Assad and his Russian and Iranian patrons have resisted the political process by insisting on keeping Assad in power. Given the new set of circumstances, America can convince Russia that Assad must go. 

  • DrArtaud

    I can’t even read the article. Mr. Ahmadi Nasab, the author, has one article on TownHall, a web site I stopped visiting long ago due to their NEO-Con articles and attempts to stop Trump from becoming president. I used to like Katie Pavlich; listed in the following anti-Trump video as being an editor at TownHall; until she became a Fox News contributor, where they make her up like a street prostitute, like they do nearly all their female talking heads, and she went along with it.

    Video: The Anti-Trump Conservatives Megyn Kelly Hosted All Want Ted Cruz

    To me, this is Fake News, the author with one article on TownHall? And he writes for multiple Iranian news outlets? Nice try CIA or NSA, nice try TownHall, I’m not buying it.

    Shahram Ahmadi Nasab Emran, MD, MA, Ph.D (c), teaches at Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics, Saint Louis University. He has participated in international policy forums, including the Policy Studies Organization’s 2016 Middle East Dialogue, and has written for multiple Iranian news outlets.

    The article, as usual, fails to mention the Christians and muslims protected by Assad. These groups, if not involved in anti-Govt activities, are not under attack by Assad’s forces. This entire infatuation with Syria concerns a pipeline to benefit Europe that Assad won’t let the U.S. build. Mr. Ahmadi Nasab, the author, makes the U.S. appear to be altruists concerned about the lives of Syrian citizens, but this fantasy is quickly dispersed by realizing that heinous genocides occur in Africa and the U.S. doesn’t even manage to yawn.

    In an attempt to overthrow Assad, the U.S. has trained, supplied, and funded muslim terrorists, called them rebels, and these very same people are responsible for slaughtering and dehumanizing Christians in Syria, and the rebels have provided training, U.S. weapons, and likely funding to isis. Assad’s forces fight the rebels and isis, keeping the terrorists in check, allowing a secular govt that has Christians and muslims coexisting. With the removal of Assad, sure, the puppet we install will permit the pipeline, but almost assuredly the remainder of the Christians will be slaughtered, and artifacts that extend back to Christ’s time on earth will be lost forever.

    And why did we not hear of these 68+ pro-Syrian govt children blown up, possibly by U.S. rebels? Will Ivanka cry over this, precipitating the president to initiate a cruise missile strike on Syrian opponents? Hardly. But Trump talked again and again about “the kids”, and the world should not tolerate such acts, but we’d tolerate them fine if done by U.S. backed forces?

    Article: At least 68 children killed in Syrian bus convoy attack

    At least 68 children were killed in Saturday’s bomb attack on an evacuation convoy in Syria that claimed 126 lives, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

    The majority of those killed in the deadly blast were government supporters taking part in a transfer deal involving residents of pro-government villages and opposition-held towns, according to the Observatory.

    Article: More Than Half Of 126 Killed In Syria Bus Bombing Were Children, Group Says

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    Article: Ann Coulter: Trump’s Syria Strike ‘Very Strange’

    “And yet, it’s a very hard explain the Syrian attack,” she continued. “And it’s certainly not a vital national security interest. We generally don’t, at least conservatives don’t, rushing around the world for humanitarian reasons. And for that region of the world, Assad is one of the better leaders. There are probably only one or two better than he. He’s not even like a Saddam Hussain murderous thug. He helped us after 9/11, giving us intelligence. It’s a very strange thing we’ve done here. And I feel like it’s such a departure from what Trump said on the campaign trail. And in 2013 on his Twitter feed.”

    Video: Ann Couter: Trump airstrike on Syria very strange