President Trump’s Lack of Strategy in Syria and Germany’s Possible Diplomatic Role in Geopolitics

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picture Credit: Video grab of Saudi Crown Prince visiting Trump
 

A writer for the German Newspaper Der Spiegel calls American intervention in Syria a “wrong move” and asserts that US President Donald Trump has no strategy for the Syrian attacks. In an editorial for Der Spiegel, Christiane Hoffmann explains that even if the attacks are justified because of Syrian President Bashar-al Assad’s usage yet again of chemical weapons, intervention may prove to be too risky and dangerous.  Meanwhile, she also ponders on what role Germany could play in today’s geopolitics.

Ms. Hoffmann cited a tweet that the US President sent last week, which was noteworthy for its lack of prudence and incendiary tone. On April 11, Mr. Trump wrote, “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

While the tweet could possibly be ignored by Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, it could also go the opposite direction in sparking global conflict. And while some people hope that perhaps Mr. Trump’s bold and foolhardy words may be aimed to confuse the US’s enemies, in order to make sense of  the President;’s doings, Ms. Hoffman believes that the American President does not have a concrete plan of action at all, but simply a desire for “destruction and ruin.”

There have been a lot of changes from a year ago, when the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, called President Trump’s assault on the Syrian military in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons “understandable.” For one, Mr. Trump is no longer surrounded by the moderates who used to be in his circle of influence. For another thing, the US’ relationship with Russia is no longer the same, ever since Russian diplomats were forcibly removed form US soil due to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the UK. Additionally, sanctions from the US have caused the fall of Russia’s stock prices.

More importantly, Ms. Hoffmann writes, global alliances have been formed. Israel, the UK, Saudi Arabia and France have sided with the US, against Russia, Syria and Iran. 

In short, what is at stake is so much greater.

While President Trump actually just recently pulled out US soldiers from Syria and, as Ms. Hoffmann writes, “the West no longer has any influence on the outcome of the Syrian war and virtually no influence on what happens to the country after the guns have finally fallen silent,” it still holds that neither the US nor Europe has no real solution or strategy for the problems in the Middle East. 

It appears that all that they can do is send a message to President Assad, which, as Ms. Hoffmann points out, is no real plan.

She also points out that war crimes committed with impunity are the biggest problem when it comes to foreign policy. To stand by while a leader kills his countrymen is complicity. It would be fitting to launch a strike against President Assad’s military. However, the nature of the current political climate makes such an attack simply too risky, as this could spark serious global conflict. When retaliatory attacks against Syria are weighed against full-on global war, “there is no comparison.”

Russia has stood to gain with the US intervention in Syria, and Mr. Putin has shown that he can appreciate the perspectives of those in the West. The Kremlin commented, “We do not participate in Twitter diplomacy,” which has suddenly made Russia sound eminently reasonable.

Ms. Hoffmann ends her editorial with a suggestion on what role Germany could play in this whole scenario. Germany did not ally itself with the US assault on Syria, despite the fact that Mrs. Merkel has often spoken about “Germany’s growing responsibility in the world.”  In this particular global dilemma, Germany has remained uninvolved.

But Ms. Hoffmann suggests that Germany could actually play a major diplomatic role, for example, encouraging France to stay on the more moderate side, despite France’s alliance with President Trump. Germany can also attempt to ward off President Trump intensifying moves toward war, “something like trading French support in Syria for Washington’s support for the nuclear deal with Iran,” Ms. Hoffmann writes. “That, to put it in terms Trump might understand, would be an artful deal.”