1. It’s Wednesday, April 5, 2017.
2. It’s the birthday of the founder of the Burpee Seeds company and actor Michael V. Gazzo, who played the Corleone mob captain Frank Pentangeli in “The Godfather Part II.”
3. The world always combines the beauty of flowers and the violence humans do to each other. What makes it tolerable is that you’d like to think there’s at least a balance, if not a tilt toward the peaceful and admirable.
You’d be hard pressed to feel that way today.
In Syria, children were among at least 69 people gassed to death in a rebel-held community by forces loyal to the bastard president Bashar al-Assad. The chemical attack was so bad that rescue workers fell ill from the after effects.
To be fair, the world has been at odds about Syria since this civil war began six years ago. Barack Obama couldn’t see his way through to a resolution – his refusal to attack Assad after a chemical attack in 2013, crossing the red line Obama had drawn, is seen as his biggest failure in the White House.
(For some great background about this, here’s Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview with Obama from The Atlantic.)
But at least Obama was clear about how evil Assad is. And, short of committing American forces to a conflict that both Congress and the general public didn’t want, he tried to do what he could to condemn that evil.
4. Now you have a cetriolo in office who, if he sends forces to Syria as he intends, will actually help Assad fight one of the forces opposing him. That would be ISIS – which, of course, doesn’t like us much either.
What Trump is really doing is what Russia, his patron, wants. Putin supports Assad, and he knows Trump can’t come out and say he supports Assad without looking like more of a traitor than he already is. So if the U.S. battles ISIS, Assad can focus on the more rational rebels who have challenged his authority.
That’s what he did in Idlib Province. And as Trump feels about nuclear weapons, Assad figured that if he has chemical weapons, he might as well use them.
5. So here are the options if you’re a Syrian:
You can support Assad and the idea that it’s OK to use whatever force necessary to crush people who oppose you.
You can oppose Assad and fear what happened in Idlib.
You can flee.
But if you do, you understand that few countries – and certainly not the Trumpian United States, which has abdicated its stature as the refuge of the wretched – want you. You’ll risk your life to get to the West, where you’ll be exploited or shunned.
It’s a nightmare with no end in sight. It’s cruelty, magnified.