By Maleeha Coleburn
On April 6, President Donald Trump ordered a military strike against the Syrian government after they allegedly used chemical weapons on their own citizens.
Tuesday, April 4, a chemical weapons attack resulted in the deaths of dozens. At least 86 people, and 26 children, died. According to UNICEF, 546 people were injured. Experts have confirmed that the chemical used was sarin gas.
Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles were launched at the al-Shayrat airfield that was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks.
This strike was the first direct military action taken by the United States against the Syrian regime in the country’s six-year civil war.
Trump commented on the strike while at Mar-a-Lago, saying, “Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
He added, “There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council. Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically.”
Once reports of the military strike came out, there was a media frenzy. It was all news outlets talked about.
What was interesting was how the media outlets portrayed Trump as presidential and the amount of praise he received for the military strike.
CNN host Fareed Zakaria said Trump’s missile strike in Syria showed him displaying the same qualities as America’s past leaders.
“I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night,” he said Friday on CNN’s New Day. “I think this was actually a big moment.”
“For the first time really as president, he talked about international norms, international rules, about America’s role in enforcing justice in the world,” Zakaria said of Trump’s remarks explaining the military action.
On Fox News, Jeanine Pirro praised the president’s actions. “He took swift decisive action,” Pirro said Friday on Fox & Friends. “We finally have a man who knows the difference between right and wrong and good and evil and it makes us proud. Finally.”
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius praised Trump for launching a military strike that he said restored the “credibility” of America’s power.
“In terms of the credibility of American power, I think most traditional Washington commentators would say he’s put more oomph, more credibility back into it,” Ignatius said on Morning Joe.
Despite the positive feedback on Trump’s decision, some media figures were critical of the portrayal of Trump.
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather spoke out against President Trump’s missile strike in Syria, criticizing media figures who were quick to say the strike was a presidential move.
“The number of members of the press who have lauded the actions last night as ‘presidential’ is concerning,” Rather said in a Facebook post.
“War must never be considered a public relations operation. It is not a way for an Administration to gain a narrative,” Rather continued. “It is a step into a dangerous unknown and its full impact is impossible to predict, especially in the immediate wake of the first strike.”
It is scary to think that bombing a country can be regarded as presidential. Using effective military strategies, while necessary, should not be applauded. This military action, while warranted, resulted in death. Cheering on military action could result in further military action.
This strike is a dangerous step. It directly affects US relations with Russia and Syria. With already deteriorating relationships, this military strike could lead to war. It is unknown how this will fully impact US relations with Russia and Syria. With Trump’s unpredictability, the possibility of a ground war is unknown.
This type of positive response will encourage Trump to use more military action in order to garner support. As Rather said, war should not be used to improve the president’s look.
Trump’s campaign was built on tapping into anger and fear. He used it to his advantage and said whatever he felt would give him more support. His concern was not what was best for the US or its citizens. His concern was what was best for himself and his status.
It’s a sad statement of where we are as a country that we equate violence with being presidential.
Bombing Syria is not presidential. Taking responsibility is presidential and Trump does not do that.
Nothing about what happened April 6was presidential. Nothing about what’s going to happen next will be presidential.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of WikiCommons.
Maleeha Coleburn is a freshman journalism and government and politics double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.