On Friday's show, Beth spoke Kerry Boyd Anderson for a discussion of the humanitarian, military, and political crisis unfolding in Syria. Here are Kerry's updated thoughts on the most recent developments, which we will be discussing more in-depth on Tuesday.
The Trump administration has done a 180 on its attitude toward the Assad regime. The same officials who last week said we need to accept the political reality of Assad in power are now saying he needs to go. On the one hand, I'm thrilled that they now understand the brutality of the regime and its role in driving the conflict. At the same time, I'm stunned that they seem to have just discovered this. While this week's chemical weapons attack was a particularly large one, it was not the first chemical weapons attack (nor the first apparently to use sarin) and is certainly not unique in terms of the regime's targeting of civilians and brutality against them. Surely, the president, the secretary of state, and the ambassador to the UN are not just now learning that the Assad regime systematically targets children after six years of such behavior, which has been well publicized.
In terms of military action, I'm still digesting the news on this. I was probably wrong on Tuesday when I said that I expected little response from the administration, but still we should be careful not to get wrapped up in the administration's particular form of drama. Little may come of this - a couple missile strikes on some minor Assad targets wouldn't be a huge deal necessarily, if that's what they do. On the other hand, a lot may come of this, given that the Russians are involved, and any action against the Assad regime would be a huge policy change. It's very possible that I'll feel supportive of whatever the administration chooses to do, as I think the US should have acted more resolutely against the regime before. At the same time, I'm deeply concerned about the incredibly fast change in policy on risky, complex issues. The administration is behaving as though there is suddenly new information about the Assad regime and now the US has to respond, when in fact the regime has been incredibly brutal and violating international law all along. What has changed is the Trump administration's view, which was directly in contradiction last week, and I'm still trying to figure out why.
Meanwhile, I wonder if we're now going to let some of those "beautiful little babies," as our president accurately calls them, into the US as refugees.