Fiamma Nirenstein
Fiamma Nirenstein

America comes back

The United States is back. It represents a global turning point the event that took place yesterday morning at 3:45, when Trump decided that Assad’s chemical attack in the city of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s northern province of Idlib, which killed many children and wounded 546, was an intolerable burden for the U.S. and the entire world, and responded accordingly.
The party is over! the great Shiite-Russian festival that had so bizarrely occupied the hegemonic space of the reasonable Sunni majority in the Middle East won’t be able to show its contempt for the most basic rules of decency of our time on the pretext of the atrocities of Daesh, which still are very solidly substantiated. It’s true that the Islamic State is terrible, and even more. Yes, it deserves a war. However, the Daesh people are no less horrific when compared to what happened in Idlib.

Trump acted quickly, without notice, as one should always have in order to avoid talks that can destroy the success and the spirit of a war action; all the mocking remarks about his passion for Twitter have been shattered on the pragmatism of the right timing and accuracy of the blow. Shayrat, the airbase from where the planes loaded with sarin took off, was hit with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, really a strong blow, as well as a warning to other powers in order to prevent massacres who possess and could use chemical weapons.

The attack changes the world’s moral and strategic state: first of all, it’s now truly forbidden to use weapons of mass destruction, and it was not understood. It was actually empty talks after the failed agreement in 2013, when Obama refused abandoning his commitment, the responsibility of stopping Assad from using chemical weapons (he had already killed over a thousand people in Damascus) pretending to believe in an agreement that history has clearly shown, was never fulfilled.

Now, it’s really prohibited, and not only to Assad but also to Hezbollah, Iranians, North Korea and other criminal dictators who pounce like hungry wolves on the civilian population with gas and the like. Why? Because otherwise, says Trump, we will strike you. Philosophical? Strategically? Actually yes, very. From his choice we can even understand that when Trump said “America First” he didn’t mean isolation, but rather sharing in action of a common morality acceptable to the average American and to the western world in general.

Trump also communicated here that his friendship with the Russians is subject to rules, and that it doesn’t go beyond commonsense moral parameters, and they don’t work when Putin supports a mad dictator (Israeli intelligence has studied Assad well and defines him a psychopath in the technical sense).

For now Russia protests with a certain restraint, no one believes neither that the sarin gas used against the population belonged to Daesh nor the fact that the UN can take the situation in its hands. Indeed, a side effect of the story may be that the Security Council will be brought back into some effective line, with the leadership of Mrs. Haley. Lavrov has said that the Russian-American friendship will certainly be damaged, and so what? …probably little or nothing, the Russian president no matter how intelligent and active, knows very well that today this new Cold War is imperfect, his imperia is frale, he is not as strong as a Soviet dictator.

Another outcome could be that Assad’s time as a dictator is about to end. And Hezbollah, who the Iranians have rendered major players, may think that the missiles that pass from Syrian territory into their hands to destroy Israel when the Iranians will decide, can be stopped.
Trump with this gesture gives strength to his project of an international conference about Israel and the Palestinians basically with the Arab Sunni moderates, because as a side effect he deters terrorism, strengthens Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf countries, sends Iran a serious warning about its belligerent attitude, and warns the Russians that no one gave Putin license to kill for a new Soviet hegemony in the Middle East. He also warns ISIS, acting militarily, that its horror show is coming to an imminent end.
Across the ocean, gone by now is the young president who loved to say, “We are very concerned,” and then did nothing. We can today (but who know about tomorrow?) that the all-encompassing festival of horror, in which decapitations and the sale of women have been counterbalanced by the use of chemical weapons, is fading into the sunset.

Translation by Amy K. Rosenthal


This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (April 8, 2017)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.