John Kass: As the drums pound for Syria, questions arise
With the drumbeats pounding about Syria, drums demanding the toppling of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, you might want to ask yourself some hard questions.
Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. And President Donald Trump acted quickly, decisively and properly in sending missile strikes into the Syrian air base where those chemical weapons were launched.
But now there are the drums and they have a way of driving questions from our heads.
Just weeks ago Trump was adamantly and publicly opposed to military involvement in the Middle East. Since the missile strikes, neo-conservatives who despise Trump, like Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and Democrats who despise him, are singing a different song.
They sing his praises.
“And you’ve got some Democrats and liberals who despise Trump, and the only thing that has animated them over the last 78 days has been opposition to Trump in everything he has done and said,” said Tom Bevan, founder of RealClearPolitics, in an interview on my podcast, “The Chicago Way.”
“And now they are confronted with the idea that they may agree with the decision that he made,” Bevan said. “It will be interesting to see how this plays out.”
Yes, but you’re in this too, if you’re an American, and it’s time to ask yourself some questions. This isn’t about right or wrong answers. But you have to ask.
Do it alone, quietly, while you look in the mirror and when no one will see. You might also want to think of a son, or a neighbor boy you’ve known for years. Then look yourself in the eye and ask:
What is the American national interest in removing Assad?
Will removing Assad make us any safer here in the U.S.?
What would be the cost that you would pay, in American lives and American treasure, to accomplish this?
And, do you think toppling Assad is worth it, even if it means that the U.S. and Russia — which supports Assad — come into armed conflict?
Then what? How would war with Russia end?
There is no perfect answer. But if you’re a citizen, if you consider yourself an American, it’s your duty to ask yourself, and answer. You also might ask another question:
If Assad is removed, what will happen to the remaining religious minorities, namely Christians, who’ve been slaughtered and driven out and hounded by many of the same Syrian rebels who would scream for joy if Assad was gone?
It is Holy Week, after all, isn’t it? And the Middle East is where Christianity was born.
As an Orthodox Christian, I’ve always wondered why the West doesn’t seem to be worried about the Christians of the East.
Is it because there is no blue-eyed Jesus to be found on the road to Damascus?
One thing we do know: When Middle Eastern dictators are toppled or killed, the Christians are slaughtered. When the Iraqi dictator was torn from power, Christians were killed, and many others ran in order to survive.
In Syria, many Christians have fled from ISIS and other Islamic rebel fighters. Those who couldn’t flee have been killed. And hardly a whisper about it here in the West.
You didn’t hear much about the Christians of the East after the missiles were dropped. Perhaps it’s because they get in the way of agendas.
Republican Sens. Graham and McCain, who have long demanded robust American military force in Syria, are pleased with the president. For months, they have openly mocked Trump for his alleged sympathies to Russia. Yet since the missile attack, McCain, Graham and the neo-con #NeverTrumpers are praising Trump.
And what of Democrats and their pet pundits who’ve pushed the cartoonish idea of Vladimir Putin as some sort of ridiculous James Bond villain, with Trump in his lap, purring like a big orange cat?
With Putin having sent warships to the area, it might be difficult for Democrats to push the notion of Trump as a Putin puppet, although some will invariably argue that this is all a diabolical Trumpian trick.
But President Trump did the right thing. He was confronted with the slaughter and the use of gas and the murders of innocents and children. He acted.
If you’re a parent, you may have had difficulty watching the video of those Syrian children trying to breathe, and the adults frantically washing them down with water in the desperate hopes that it would help.
No nation should be allowed the use of such weapons. Assad was warned repeatedly, and he mocked the perpetually indecisive Barack Obama.
Obama was indecisive in Illinois and rose to power by risking nothing. He avoided ever challenging the real power of the Chicago Democratic bosses. He learned to sidestep conflict. And he took these lessons with him to Washington. And later Obama drew his famous red line in the sand, threatening Assad over the use of chemical weapons.
And then Obama did nothing.
The dry space of Obama’s empty threat served as invitation to Putin and Russia to enter Syria and to build formidable Russian air defenses to protect Syrian skies.
But Trump is a different cat. The world knows it now. He’s being pushed and the drums are pounding.
If you close your eyes tight and listen, you might hear echoes of other, older drumbeats of years ago. They called for the toppling of another dictator, Saddam Hussein, from Iraq.
The sound is the same. The cost is the same. And all you have to ask yourself is this: Is it worth it?