Trump attacked Syria for “the children,” but he still won’t let them into the U.S.
In 2013, the GOP obstructed President Obama's effort to intervene in Syria after Assad killed more than 1300 people with sarin gas. Donald Trump will not allow Syrian refugees fleeing Assad's deadly terror into the United States. Yet now he is justifying military action with the lives of Syrian children as an explanation.
Donald Trump cited Syria’s use of chemical weapons against civilians — especially children — to defend his decision to launch airstrikes against the country without Congressional approval, and that argument is receiving broad support from his fellow Republicans. They cite the horrific photos and videos of suffering and dead children exposed to what appears to be sarin gas or another lethal nerve toxin as justification for their action.
But the reality is that Syrians have been suffering for the past six years, during which Syrian President Bashar al Assad has been using lethal force against his own people. And when President Obama wanted to intervene after Assad’s use of sarin gas against civilians in 2013, the same Republicans now applauding Trump’s unilateral action refused to grant Obama’s request to use military intervention.
The 2013 attack, called the Ghouta chemical attack, killed more than 10 times the number of people than the latest attack, including hundreds of infants and children.
Republicans obstructed Obama’s effort to engage in military action at that time, even though they saw the gruesome images and videos of the aftermath and knew exactly what was happening:
[WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES OF DEATH AND SUFFERING]
Not only did Republicans refuse to authorize President Obama to use force, but they have also been staunch opponents of accepting any of the millions of Syrian refugees who have been displaced. And no one has been more opposed to helping those Syrians than Trump.
During his presidential campaign, Trump vowed to cease allowing Syrian refugees entry into the United States. In February of 2016, he was specifically asked at a small event in New Hampshire whether he could “look children aged five, eight, ten, in the face and tell them they can’t go to school here.” Trump did not hesitate in answering, “I can look in their faces and say ‘You can’t come.’ I’ll look them in the face.”
Almost a year later, in one of his first acts as president, Trump signed an executive order indefinitely suspending admission of Syrian refugees into the United States and restricting entry of people from primarily Muslim countries, including Syria.
It is hard to believe Trump is genuinely concerned about the welfare of the Syrian people when he has insisted that those Syrians are potential terrorists who pose a threat to our national security and cannot be granted asylum.
In 2013, Trump too was clearly aware of events in Syria and, rather than being emotionally moved by their plight, he took to Twitter repeatedly to mock Obama’s desire to intervene. This is a small sampling of his dozens of tweets about Syria in 2013:
What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013
Is everyone seeing how incompetently our country is being run by watching the mess with Syria? Our leaders don't know what they are doing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2013
The Arab League stated that it wants nothing to do with an attack on Syria, but they want us to attack.Are our leaders insane or just stupid
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2013
The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria,fix U.S.A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2013
AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2013
Trump even joked about Syria and Obamacare in a twofer attack on Obama:
If Syria was forced to use Obamacare they would self-destruct without a shot being fired. Obama should sell them that idea!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2013
In the dozens of tweets — all of which were posted during a period when videos and images of suffering Syrian children were regularly broadcast on cable news — one thing Trump never mentioned was the plight of the people in Syria or the hundreds of children killed by sarin gas. Not once. Since Trump is an avid viewer of cable news, there is every reason to believe he saw the horrific images in 2013.
There is no doubt Assad has used chemical weapons against his people. There is no doubt he has killed hundreds of thousands of infants, children, women, men, and the elderly. There is no doubt his actions constitute atrocities and possibly even crimes against humanity.
However, the question to ask Trump and the Republican lawmakers who support his decision to bomb Syria is: why now? Why was this horror not reason enough to intervene in 2013 when President Obama requested authority to do so? And, perhaps most importantly of all, what are we going to do to help Syrians suffering under Assad?
Because unless Trump and Republicans reverse their total opposition to allowing refugees into the country, their supposed concern for those Syrians simply does not hold up.