Monday, April 10, 2017

A Lull for Boo-birds

One thing that’s particularly fun about the first few weeks of the baseball season is the spirited back-and-forth taunting between fans of rival teams. My Dad’s cousin, the local butcher and a plumber friend are all die-hard Yankees fans and early in the season is the best time for maximum bravado. They’ve been a little more muted in recent years as the Red Sox have more recently won the World Series (note that this column will surely end that silence) but hearing from them at the beginning part of the season is something I look forward to every year.

President Trump — who has not experienced any silence from critics since the start of his administration — may have noticed a drop in the roar last week when the U.S. bombed Syria in response to the latest atrocity committed by the Syrian government on its people. Love him, hate him — and most of the people I talk to really do hate him — apparently President Trump has a soft spot for children and can’t stand to see them killed in a chemical attack.  To me, it would appear that for the first time in many years, the United States is doing what needs to be done in Syria. We’ve been watching this genocide unfold for far too long.

The facts are horrifying: according to the U.N., more than 400,000 Syrians are dead and more than 5 million have fled the country (and that number is low because it only accounts for those that have registered as refugees). While some countries are straining under the weight of refugees — Turkey has three million — some in the United States have patted themselves on the back for taking a handful of these mistreated souls. I’m glad the focus has now shifted to ending the cause of the refugee crisis rather than debating immigration law.

I’m no foreign policy expert but I believe that the U.S. — and other superpowers — have a moral obligation to intervene with force if needed when a country is mistreating and murdering its citizens. For almost 6 years we’ve “observed” as Syrians have been killed, tortured and driven from their homeland because of a brutal civil war. The U.S. and the UN have imposed sanctions, investigated the use of chemical weapons and sent numerous other diplomatic missives — to no effect. I can’t imagine why President Obama did nothing but clearly he had his reasons and stuck to them. That is his legacy.

Will a few dozen tomahawk missiles dumped at an airbase end the Assad regime? Of course not. Do any Americans want to see us engaged in another war in the Middle East? Probably not. Is it important to send a message that we will not stand by as a government murders its children? Yes, I think so.

The momentary lull in criticism has already ended and the cacophony of “here’s what he did wrong” has begun. Considering that there has not been peace in the Middle East since political columnists were tapping away on stone tablets, my expectations for the Trump administration are low, but at least they have engaged on the side of humanity.

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