• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Biden Bombs Syria

On the 25th of February, hardly a month removed from his historic inauguration, that grand ceremony in that freedom-breathing city around which, not only at this very moment, but for the unpromising future ahead, barbed-wire tautly stretches and national guardsmen erectly stand, President Joe Biden ordered the bombing of a facility in Syria.

He, like the last three Commanders-in-Chief by whom he was preceded—and from whom, as is becoming apparent by the loftiness of his plans and the ambition of his efforts, he’s working devilishly hard to be distinguished—decided early to dip his toes into the turbid waters of Middle Eastern politics. It’s a pool, sadly, from which none exits completely clean. Inevitably, whether he be Democrat or Republican, hawkish or dove-like, domestically-minded or internationally-enthused, each leader is sullied in the process of taking this unhygienic leap.

So far as we’ve been informed, a non-descript Syrian outpost, in which, importantly, Iranian-backed militia groups were sheltered, was struck by Biden’s inaugural salvo. The damage to which this distant facility and its unsuspecting residents were subject is, at this time, still undisclosed. Whispers attest to the fact that the bombing claimed nearly two dozen lives but this, the fatality count, isn’t something about which the media are particularly inquisitive. Their chief concern, rather, and that by which our own concerns might be roused, is that Biden consented to this attack in the first place.

By what affront, we ask, was so unexpected a response provoked? Was President Biden’s first demonstration of strength, in its nature, retaliatory or—god forbid—incendiary? Was it proactive, as though to preempt future outbreaks of terror in the region or at home, or reactive, if only to give just deserts in the style of a lawful “tit for tat”? Was it a proportionate answer to an intolerable offense, or the mere flexing of a newfound military muscle?

Even those who flatter themselves by being more than “casual” observers of international affairs found these questions difficult to address. Reflexively, many thought the attack an unnecessary display of Executive strength, a gratuitous strike to which an elderly and ostensibly peaceful president ought not to have agreed. No sooner had the smoke cleared than the epithets of “war hawk”, “militarist”, and “neo-liberal” began clouding the immaculate reputation that Joe Biden has sought to cultivate by his many Christian actions.

We must ask ourselves, now in the sobriety of our better knowledge, whether or not he’s fully deserving of so unsavory a set of names? We might also ask whether or not the ageless “Authorization for use of Military Force” (AUMF) might be, under this presidency, reconsidered?

As it turns out, Biden’s salvo was little more than a response to an attack carried out by, yet again, none other than Iranian-backed militants. This time, their attack targeted an Iraqi airport (to which a US military base was perhaps too conspicuously attached) in the northern city of Erbil. For reference, Erbil is a relatively docile place located just east of the famously sanguinary town of Mosul—the city over which, for far too long a while, ISIS forces barbarously reigned. Using rockets, the militants struck the US base in which our soldiers and allies were housed. At the scene, one US contractor was pronounced dead, and one US soldier injured.

With truly astonishing perspicacity, and a level of mental discernment to which feebler brains, such as that occupying this speaker’s head, could only aspire, you might be asking yourself why, if our troops were attacked in the nation of Iraq, did Biden order a response in the sovereign, neighboring state of Syria? Are the two Middle Eastern states, though similarly dilapidated and poorly-run, verging on a point of being indistinguishable? It’s an excellent question you pose, to which a mind sharper than mine might offer an answer.

If I were to advance one, however, with all timidity and expectation of being corrected, I would say that we did only that which would not significantly provoke Iran’s ire. Great care, it seems, is being taken not to enflame the passions of those hell-raising Persians, those wrathful mullahs with whom we yearn to strike a renascent nuclear deal. As for the AUMF, it’s very unlikely to be rescinded, an unfortunate fact for which we might blame an emasculated Congress.

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