One thing for sure is that we’re now terrifyingly closer to a military confrontation between the two military superpowers.
Nobody should question the need for an immediate UN investigation to determine who was responsible for carrying out the sickening chemical weapons attack in the rebel-held northern Syrian province of Idlib last week.
As in the case of any barbaric attack that deliberately targets a civilian population in areas where they live, work or congregate, it is only the outcome of such an investigation that should result in an international effort to arraign those responsible and bring them before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This is, after all, the process by which you impose the international rule of law.
But as we saw in the last few days when the U.S. Navy arbitrarily fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase, there is going to be one major obstacle: the U.S.A. unlike 130 other countries, does not yet recognize the International Criminal Court.
However, since it is imperative to find the culprits of this atrocious attack, be it Daesh, terrorist mercenaries or the Syrian government in order to minimize the chances of another one, the U.S. position should not diminish any initiative for an investigation that tasks those responsible for this atrocity being properly held to account in terms of international law.
The US government’s resort to military action without the basis of international law is no substitute for doing what’s right and proper in terms of upholding the rule of law and stopping the chances of this type of atrocity being repeated.
But for all the noise surrounding the legality of America’s unilateral action, another frightening reality is now brewing and one that if not controlled could dangerously raise the stakes.
An affront to the Russo-Iranian axis?
The targeted strike on the Al-Shayrat airbase was neither tactically brilliant nor was it a game changer. In addition, a volley of such missiles hardly makes up for a strategy.
It will not contribute to the prospects for long-term peace in the country and considering fighters jets utilized it for bombing raids a day later, America’s $800,000-a-piece missiles clearly made little destruction to the Syrian war machine and therefore the overall balance of power.
But in the aftermath of the attack, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah as the Syrian governments principal backers against Daesh-dominated terror, released a statement making it bluntly clear that they would respond if ever again there was a breach of what they deemed were their ‘red lines’ in the country.
Of course, U.S. officials were quietly cynical in their readings of this threat on the presumption that both of those countries would not dare do anything bold enough to challenge American military might in order to save, as they see it, the government of Bashar Al-Assad.
But such a presumption might just be their undoing; both Russia and Iran have core national security interests in the Syrian Arab Republic and for whom the outcome of the war will directly reflect their standing in both the region and the world.
As they view it, regional powers along with a green light from the United States ultimately allowed for the creation of Daesh and their affiliates to wreak havoc in Syria and with the latest missile strikes they were now effectively reinforcing them.
If Syria is in one way or another allowed to broken over their heads by a systematic weakening of her sovereign government, the prospects of a Trump-ruled America bullying everyone into compliance of her worldview will become an increasingly likely prospect.
Russia is a military superpower. Iran is the world’s foremost asymmetric power.
The two combined will no doubt be an explosive mix. They’ve long anticipated this very day and the talk of being one-step closer to confrontation, more surface-to-air missile batteries and additional troops only goes to cement this anticipation.
How they might best confront the USA depends on her actions, if any, over the coming weeks and months. One thing for sure is that we’re now terrifyingly closer to a military confrontation between the two military superpowers.
But for now, what will go down as perhaps the most ludicrous thing about the whole episode is hearing that President Trump apparently felt compelled to take action in Syria after he saw heart-rending pictures of children that were killed in the attack.
If only he felt the same compelling desire to act when his Saudi-allies kill children in their bombing campaign of the Yemen or even more so when his own military ends up killing children in Iraq, would we all share his compassion to act as the supposed leader of the free world.