*This post originally appeared on Skye Fitzgerald’s LinkedIn page.
In early April it was widely reported that Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, used chemical weapons against a town held by rebel forces. Many innocent people were killed or harmed in the attack. The harrowing images that appeared in the media serve as vivid reminders of just how far Assad is willing to go in order to remain in control. Analysts believe that Assad’s strategy is to inflict as much damage as he can upon the areas that his opponents control in order to drive them out. If scores of innocent civilians are killed in the process, it doesn’t seem to matter to Assad.
Soon after the chemical attack, President Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles. The missiles’ target was a Syrian military base where the chemical attack is believed to have originated from. Many commentators think that the president was moved to act after seeing images of the injured children on the news. Although, in general, I disagree with nearly every word that emerges from President Trump and nearly every policy he has attempted to implement as President, in this case, I find myself surprised to say—he did the right thing. Regardless of his motivations to act—stated or otherwise—he made a statement that chemical warfare is not acceptable and that there are genuine consequences on the world stage for the targeting of innocent civilians (at least with chemical weapons).
A Lack of Courage
Last year my opinion piece on the Syrian crisis titled “History Will Show a Lack of Courage on Syria that Will Haunt Us” appeared in The Oregonian. The published version was slightly shorter than the original version I submitted. In the original version, I wrote: “If I were Obama I would act with the full military might of the United States and shoot Assad’s helicopters out of the sky.” Although military intervention is complex, the outcome of not intervening is simple: innocent people, including helpless children, die.
The Power of Film
If we are to believe reports, Trump was moved to act after seeing images of the chemical attack. One of the reasons why I created the film 50 Feet from Syria was to show the world images of what Assad is doing to his own people so that leaders would be compelled to act. Every day that the world waits to act is another day that innocent blood is spilled.
50 Feet from Syria is currently streaming on Netflix. If you are reading this I encourage you to watch the documentary and ask yourself if you think Trump made the right decision. As a result of my experience making the film, I know what my answer is. The world cannot sit back and look the other way as Assad commits atrocity after atrocity. Many countries approved of Trump’s action—a sign that, perhaps, the world’s leaders are ready to act more aggressively to protect innocent Syrians from losing their lives.