On April 7, the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat Airbase in Syria. The launch was ordered by President Donald Trump as a response to the most recent chemical attack on April 4, which killed a contested 70 to 100 people, with hundreds more injured by an unidentified chemical. This information has spread across the nation and been cast in every sort of light imaginable, from extremely positive to abysmal. Through the panic and unease, it’s critical for media and individuals to process what has happened before locking in a position.
It is impossible to claim that any missile strike is a purely positive thing. But these admittedly terrifying, large-scale acts of violence are inherent to war and have some benefits. It may be easy for many Americans to distance themselves from what is happening across the seas. In Syria, families are continually devastated and innocent lives are lost, both from crossfire and deliberate attacks. The refugee crisis has been in the public eye for years now and remains a desolate situation for many.
For some Syrians, becoming a refugee is not an option. Rather, having their country’s turmoil resolved is of the utmost importance and the only foreseeable future for them. These people simply want their home back. Assistance from the U.S. and potentially other countries moving forward is a blessing for those in Syria who want the conflict resolved soon.
In the aftermath of this missile strike, it has been contested by various media outlets and public figures whether this acts as a message or not. This event has been reported as the first incident of intentional military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some see this as a clear display that the U.S. will not allow heinous chemical attacks and other violence against innocent civilians, no matter which country they call home. Others argue that labeling these strikes as a “message” diminishes their power. Still, others are condemning this move by Trump and questioning his motives in making this order.
Whether we claim this incident as a symbolic message, war strategy or unwarranted assault, the action and its aftermath remain. The ripple effect is a viable concern of many media outlets and U.S. people. There have been 18 reported deaths as a result of the missile strikes. The Syrian news outlet Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that nine civilians, including four children, were killed. SANA also reported that at least seven casualties were Syrian military personnel.
The reaction of the global community is another just reason for concern. While some countries are backing the U.S. intervention, others are unmoved by the decision and view it as unnecessary or as barbaric as other actions by the Syrian government. International relations have been markedly tense surrounding conflict in the Middle East and this situation has only worked to deepen the pressure on already shaky relationships.
It’s difficult to see the silver lining on a cloud with implications this large. Leaping to Doomsday conclusions is all too easy with the way we consume media. We should realize that we have the privilege of distance from this situation. Unlike those directly affected overseas, we have time and freedom to consider this action from all angles. We can critique and support Trump’s decision simultaneously. Alternatively, we can condemn it while acknowledging some good that it brought to the war at large. These situations don’t have to be black and white.