Perhaps! The history repeats itself, with the same accusations of using chemical weapons Bush administration in 2003 run over Iraq and toppled Saddam regime. President Trump followed the similar footsteps, amid Idlib chemical weapon accusations; this time without waiting fact-finding reports; since the US launched around 59 Tomahawk Missiles attacking the Syrian air-base—it seems like even in this case, the cycle of history has caught up.
There is no doubt that the world wherein we reside happens to be one where ‘man eat man, us versus them and history repeat itself’ are perhaps the most common features. History is but a cycle which follows a pattern and resolutions before it can come at the very same junction it began from. One can easily figure out what the cycle is about—clashing of interests which lead to war and powerful forces among each other. The idea is that one can try stepping outside the pattern but still reach at the same place. This is more like a clock-work fiasco—no way out of it and perhaps a destructive end.
The international arena then follows this vicious historical cycle where states are the titans with varying interests who clash at variant points. Moreover the history of war tells us that one way or another each war had something in common with the other—either the motive or the actors or both. The Syrian Conflict seemed something that was different because of the complexity and the nature as well as the actors involved. But since the US launched around 59 Tomahawk Missiles attacking the Syrian air-base—it seems like even in this case, the cycle of history has caught up.
Consider 2003 and the Bush administration against the accusations of Saddam Hussain using chemical weapons. Similar pattern was followed, there were accusations followed by calls of fact-finding reports, followed by out of the whims of emotions followed by a robust and out-of the ordinary, not to forget an ill-managed attack on Iraq. Now consider Idlib and the aftermath and how there is a similar pattern. Many factors come out as a result. Not only was this a hurried launch by the Trump administration because UN as well as Russia had asked for a fact-finding mission to be launched in order to find out who was behind the chemical usage, but also that now a more gory picture has come out. Chemical attacks are not a new phenomenon in Syrian crisis—more of them are utilized by many rebel groups but a blatant launch by just accusing a state seems rather conflicting.
Many analysts are perhaps rightfully to believe that the accusations and the attack was more of a general pretext by the Trump administration to get directly involved in the crises. It does seem that the Syrian war which is a paradox wherein volatility and stalemate go side by side. And in this particular war no side is right and all are one way or another liable to tearing down the humanity in Syria with their own interests and policies. On the contrary, it also seems that the rushed decision which US took, without Congressional approval has an entire philosophy or the lack of it, hidden away.
Two things perhaps are the most important queries which comes our; was this a pure emotional decision by the administration? Was there some high inter-institutional politics behind the decision—that is did Pentagon push for this kind of decision or was it fairly calculated? Was the launch of direct attack US’s way of avenging and in a way disrupting the ‘Peace Deal’ if which it was left out? Or was the attack a way to put US back into the stage of relevancy and authority in the Syrian dynamics?
Of course if the Assad government did use the chemical weapons then that is another catastrophe. But the very fact that everyone has to use ‘if’s and but’s’ to justify this—points to a harrowing reality—powerful actors do need to justify certain actions and no one is to escape this conundrum. The fact is that this will not have implications only for Syria or the parties involved, but more of them for US itself. For the region and for Syria—there is going to be an upheaval once again. Wars are now residing in the core of the region and this action by the US can prove to be a badly hit-nail in a coffin no one wants to bury.
It seems that this ‘act of war’ will go on to provoke all kinds of partnerships and alliances making the region an actual tipping point. Iran and Russia have been on the same footing and they have clearly raised alarm and questioned the US action. But if they were to hit back, politically or militarily, the security structure of the region will become out of control. Moreover for US alone—the blow-backs are immense; the Syrian Army had been the fore-runner in hitting the ISIS and other such factions. In fact they did push these non-state actors far back. This air-strike by the US on the Air-base and directly at the government and the army will now embolden the non-state rebel groups.
Additionally this now makes the US further an inch closer to a hot conflict with the Russians and maybe even the Chinese. The very aim and now the urgency of US to get rid of Assad and via him the Iranian-Syrian dominant alliance which will push Iran down can have consequences as well. Pushing Assad back will only open an enormous quagmire and a vacuum in Syria which will spiral in the rest of the region. Another thing is that this actually goes on to prove the fear and apprehension which the world had regarding Trump true. The air of unpredictability which follows Trump is going to be immense given the fact that he was inherently against such actions. It also points to another fact—a man who can be this shifting in his beliefs must be getting such motivations from somewhere. There are many war-mongering factions in US alone for whom, this attack was a clear victory and Trump is the perfect marionette for such agendas who can bow down to pressure.
While KSA, Israel and other anti-Assad states have appreciated this attack by the US—no one realizes how it will affect the dynamics of the region further propelling them into anywhere but their own benefit. The recent softening of US towards Assad has vanished and this only means more and more war escalation instead of the other way around—an idea which Trump had capitalized on. Also the idea seems a bit simple—drawing US in the war and somewhere in support of the rebels seems a notion which was intended by terrorists who now seems to be pushing back. Taking notes from the cyclic history and the various clashes between these forces we claim to be Titans—the scenario which over-looked so many details and tid-bits by the US, the future of Syria, Middle East and most importantly ISIS and other armed NSA’s becomes suddenly unpredictable.
All in all, the Syrian conflict has already been delayed enough and the foreign actors, each one of them, have done more to make a mess out of it than to resolve it. But the very fact that Trump could have taken more time to find proof behind the chemical attacks before taking such a drastic step is cause enough for fear. Previously it was found out that the Syrian government had been accused of using biological and chemical weapons and later found out that other actors had been involved in using the said weapon systems. It also needs to be considered—Assad had now a very strong position in the crisis and at this important junction, to use chemical weapons on the civilians seems irrational.
To just sit and analyze history and to find out that it is indeed a viscous yet unpredictable and paradoxical cycle which will go on with wars at the helm and peace as a parable is in fact a vexing experience. Yet there is no out of it and one must accept it. But what is unacceptable is the fact that no one still bothers to take notes out of history in order to better manage the catastrophes which hit us. This is actually a cause for fear because the only thing different in the cycle is the dramatic change and increase in violence and disregard for humanity.