The Professor liked to walk up the two flights of stairs to his office and adjoining classroom. He had used the elevator for the last month but feeling stronger today he took the stairs. At the top, he had to stop for a few minutes to catch his breath. Certainly, didn’t want to walk into his class until he could say a hearty ‘good morning’ to his honors students.
The students were all seated and talking about the airstrike on a Syrian airport used in a sarin gas attack a few days ago when he entered.
“Well, I see you are all into current affairs. With a little luck and hard work some of you will be part of future discussions and planning that go deciding to use lethal action in support of national subjects.
“Let’s continue with the discussion. Edward, what is your take on the president’s decision?”
“After seeing the images of the gas attack victims, I don’t see how President Trump could continue with his predecessor’s example of non-involvement or leading from behind. Strong words were not going to prevent Assad from committing more atrocities that are clearly war crimes or crimes against humanity. Add to that the fact that Assad and the Russians signed an agreement that guaranteed Syrian stocks of poison gas would be destroyed and a few days ago Russian supplied planes dropped poison gas bombs on civilian targets. That signed agreement turned out to be false and some decisive action had to be taken. Obviously, both the Syrians and Russians knew about the poison gas attack and didn’t believe there would be an American military response. I fully support the cruise missile attack.”
Several hands went up, and the Professor said, “Who wants to present a different argument? Okay Carlos, the floor is yours.”
“I don’t believe the Trump national security team was thinking beyond the mechanics of the airstrike. What happens now? Do they know what the Russians or Syrians will do in response? I don’t think so. Putin is not likely to give up his warm-water sea port at Tartus. Getting an ice-free sea port for their war ships has been a Russian national security objective for a few centuries. He will take more chances to keep Tartus. After all, he believes he is Russia’s latest czar.”
“Whose wants to go next? Alice, you’re up.”
“I want to put this airstrike in a larger context. For eight years, America has perfected the use of words in place of actions. Our military has been severely underfunded. Our traditional allies don’t trust us to break out of our isolation. What’s worse, our enemies no longer respect us. We can be good at the use of diplomacy but without the resolve to use force when necessary, diplomacy is ineffective. North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran do not believe we have the will to use military force. The cruise missile strike last night has changed the rules. Our enemies must reconsider their aggressive actions and our allies can take heart that we now have competent leadership who will protect American national interests. Was it not noted that powerful Sunni Arab leaders came for a visit and went away with new hope for American backing against Iran? Do you not think those fearful of Russian and Chinese aggressive actions now have new hope that America will again be a force for peace?”
The Professor smiled at Alice’s comments then said, “Divide yourselves into two groups, one pro the cruise missile strike and one against. I’ll give you ten minutes to get organized for the team debate. I know from personal experience that people like us can’t function without fresh strong coffee. While you’re sorting yourselves into opposing groups, I’ll arrange for coffee and doughnuts.”
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