Rod Liddle: What Message Do Trump's Missiles Really Send?

By Liddle, Rod | The Spectator, April 15, 2017 | Go to article overview

Rod Liddle: What Message Do Trump's Missiles Really Send?


Liddle, Rod, The Spectator


Let me take this opportunity to join with our Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary in commending President Trump's swift and decisive military action against the Syrian government as being 'appropriate' -- one of my favourite words and one which I like to use every day, regardless of whether it is appropriate to do so.

The important thing was not of course the destruction of a few Syrian planes and, collaterally, a few Syrian children. The crucial point is that this moderate and judicious use of expensive missiles 'sends out a message' to President Assad. And the message is very simple. We will no longer tolerate Syrian children being killed by hugely unpleasant chemical weapons such as sarin or chlorine gas. We may think of the Syrians as pitiful specimens who do not amount to much, but in fact they are actually human beings. And as human beings, they have the right to be killed by nice clean high-ordnance, weaponry such as those fabulous Tomahawk cruise missiles that Mr Trump dispatched and which did, indeed, kill a few lucky children living near the airbase. Assad must learn that it is barbaric to kill children with nerve gas, but civilised and even kindly to kill them with high explosives.

Another message it sends out is that we shall in future act as referees, or perhaps line judges, in this interesting conflict -- in order to spin it out for as long as is humanly possible, and thus maximise the number of people killed. If too many people are killed by one side in a very short space of time we will intervene. We want many, many more people to be killed over a much longer period of time -- and this will be the effect of that raid on Assad's nasty aeroplanes. Even if the Tomahawks did somehow miss the runway, it has still slowed a little the Syrian government's attempts to achieve victory. The war will drag on for longer, perhaps much longer. And while it does so, we will sit on those unfeasibly high stools overlooking the net and decide who has made a foot fault. And when we notice the foot fault we shall penalise it immediately. We want this war to be played out in a pristine and gentlemanly manner. May the best man win.

Which is the other message we are sending out. We are strictly impartial in this exciting contest. For sure, we have some sympathies with the secular, liberal Syrian opposition -- but that is a total of seven people, despite what William Hague might think. The rest of the combatants -- the ragtaggle alliance of jihadi maniacs, al Qaeda, Isis and those Nusra savages versus the unpleasantly totalitarian Assad regime -- well, we're unable to make a call on that one. We're straight down the middle. We don't much like any of them. We have selflessly disregarded our own geopolitical interests.

Assad was a possible ally in the war against Islamic terrorism -- as was that lunatic Gaddafi and the bloke who used to run Egypt who looked like a crestfallen kebab-seller -- but we put these minor and selfish considerations to one side. …

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