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Consequences of the Syrian bombing

Azaz%2C+Syria+on+Aug.+16%2C+2012%2C+after+an+aerial+bombing.
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Consequences of the Syrian bombing

Azaz, Syria on Aug. 16, 2012, after an aerial bombing.

Azaz, Syria on Aug. 16, 2012, after an aerial bombing.

Wikimedia Commons

Azaz, Syria on Aug. 16, 2012, after an aerial bombing.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Azaz, Syria on Aug. 16, 2012, after an aerial bombing.

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The United States has led multiple bombing campaigns over the past few decades, leading strikes in Somalia, Iraq and Libya, as well as joining the NATO intervention in the Bosnian War in the mid-1990s. The success of these campaigns in halting global terrorism and authoritarian rule have been limited at best, with only the strikes in Libya altering the course of their civil war. While it can be argued that the military bombings in Libya had an impact in ousting leader Muammar Gaddafi, they were also a major factor in destabilizing the region, which is currently in the midst of two civil wars in West Africa.

After new information revealed that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons on civilians in Damascus, killing at least 42 people, the United States allied with Britain and France to bomb chemical weapon centers on Apr. 13 in hopes of dealing a serious blow to Syria’s chemical weapons program.

While the Trump administration has received praise for taking decisive action in bombing Syria, there are still doubts as to how effective the strike was and whether the continued bombings will truly deter Assad from developing his chemical weapons program. According to Fox News, “the U.S.-led strike did not hit a single airplane, airfield or delivery system, and it left Syria with chemical weapons capabilities. Even at the sites we did hit, the Syrians had plenty of time to move equipment and chemical stockpiles.”

The foreign policy quandary that will surely stem from the bombing was something the Obama administration was wary of entering. Even Trump had been pushing for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria in the weeks before the bombing (NY Times). However, with the continuation of missile strikes in Syria, critics say the U.S. is committing itself to future involvement in the Syrian civil war, which some believe the United States cannot meaningfully influence “short of a full-on, Iraq-style invasion.” (NY Mag)

One of the most pressing concerns following the missile strike is international relations with the Russians, who are strong allies with the regime in Syria. While the U.S. likely limited the scope of their attack in an effort to avoid conflict with Russia, President Vladimir Putin called the bombings an “act of aggression,” and any more strikes may escalate the situation with Russia and other allies, which could lead to a retaliatory attack against U.S. ground troops stationed in Syria.

While Secretary of Defense James Mattis has said that at the moment this strike is a “one time shot” to discourage the Syrian regime (BBC), the recent bombing in Syria raises questions about the Trump administration’s foreign policy strategy in Syria moving forward. With no clear pattern in his decision making, it is difficult to predict how Trump would respond to another chemical weapons attack.

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