Trump and Syria: Morality trumps war?

Image credit: Christiaan Triebert

That politics and morality have never co-existed peacefully is a fact that few people would dispute. Nevertheless, most politicians are expected to maintain a veneer of morality, and are held accountable by the media when they fail to do so.

Here, in liberal, left-wing Cambridge, our eyes and ears are often attentive for cases where politicians slip up in their use of language or give morally questionable views. A useful exercise no doubt, but one that is worthless on Trump, whose recent Muslim-majority immigration ban shows that what were once outrageous words will now turn into outrageous laws.

Trump’s apparent willingness to realise his campaign promises brings up further considerations, something the liberal media will not be too keen on thinking about. It is easy to focus on Trump’s immorality when one takes on the middle-class mantle of multiculturalism. However, in order to understand the Trump conundrum, I believe there are other perspectives to take into account. 

There is an elephant in the room regarding Trump’s foreign policy. Like it or not, the future looks brighter in Syria with Trump rather than Clinton in power. The past few years have been dominated by the war raging in Syria. With Obama and Putin, this conflict was in essence a proxy war, American-backed rebels against Russia-backed government forces, with no winners except perhaps the Islamic State. 

This modern-day reenactment of the Cold War could be coming to an end. Only last Saturday, Trump and Putin spoke on the phone, both agreeing to tackle terrorism and other issues of mutual concern. This interaction is unsurprising if one considers Trump’s lukewarm position on Russia throughout his campaign, which the liberal media was quick to demonise, going as low as circulating stories about Putin cyber-hacking the US elections.

Democrats may have wished for greater hostility towards the Kremlin from their President. But what we all have to realise is that this would only allow the Islamic State to continue operating and growing within the Middle East. If Trump and Putin did reach a compromise in Syria and used their influence on targeting IS and its affiliates, this could spell the end for the wave of terrorism that has led to a rise of right-wing populism in Europe. 

In today’s globalised age, the European left can no longer remain aloof to this connection between foreign and domestic affairs. Ignoring the Clinton camp’s anti-Russia stance because of Trump’s unacceptable views on women and minorities is morally acceptable but it fails to acknowledge one of the root causes of the refugee crisis that is edging Europe towards Trump on the political spectrum.

Some commentators have observed that Trump's rejection of the previous administration's stance towards Russia will not last very long. Both Bush and Obama made overtures to the Kremlin in the early stages of their terms, both failed to go further than this. 

Point taken, but can any of these presidents be compared to Trump? He seems to be more bigoted, more divisive, but also more decisive than his predecessors. Not that this decisiveness should be seen as a compliment on my part.

What I am merely pointing out is that Trump is not scared of the reaction his policies and stances will generate. Only this explains why he responded to the liberal media’s anti-Russia fabrications by threatening to institute some regime of censorship, instead of changing his foreign policy to align with NATO, the Democrats, and anyone else who believes antagonising Russia is what the world needs.

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