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The Journal Gazette

Monday, May 15, 2017 1:00 am

More questions, not fewer

Banks' confidence in Trump's performance not shared by all his constituents

Ahmed Abdelmageed

Ahmed Abdelmageed is assistant dean of experiential education and community engagement at the Manchester University College of Pharmacy and an associate professor of pharmacy practice.

Jim Banks starts off a May 3 column by stating, “Like many Hoosiers, I had questions about Donald Trump's views on foreign policy, his temperament and his view of America's role in the world.” This gives the reader the impression that he, too, was somewhat skeptical of the reality TV mogul's transition into politics and subsequent presence on the world stage.

Such skepticism was apparently quickly dissipated as Banks hails our president for his leadership, citing examples from the president's hundred-and-some-odd days' tenure in the oval office. In particular, the 3rd District representative mentions bombing Syria's Assad regime and escalating the fight against Islamic State terrorism. Banks concludes our president is off to a strong start in what seems to be an arduous journey of undoing eight years of foreign policy failures.

While I do somewhat agree with Banks' statement on the previous administration's foreign policy failures, I strongly disagree with his assessment of President Trump's actions.

I am one of those Hoosiers who had questions about Trump but, unlike our congressman, my concerns are not allayed by his actions; rather, they have become much more heightened.

The strike on Syria's Assad regime that Banks uses as an example of Trump's decisiveness on key national security issues is bewildering, to say the least. The war in Syria is now a threat to our national security? When did it become so? That certainly wasn't the case according to many of Trump's contradicting statements about Syria. Going from a “we should stay the hell out of Syria” position to dropping 59 missiles without any plan, heeding of consequences or a “what's next” strategy is not “an appropriate but measured response to a global humanitarian crisis,” but rather a cause of alarm to us all.

Is Trump all of a sudden motivated by the humanitarian crisis? “No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” said the president in his statement after the U.S. bombing, but aren't those the same children he said he had “absolutely no problem looking them in the face” and telling them to go home when they come to our country escaping such horror? I find the use of the words “humanitarian” and “God” as mockery to the faithful and to humanitarian activists.

Was it the use of chemical weapons? If that's the case, then why is the method of killing more important than the killing itself? Shouldn't killing be abhorred whether by chemical weapons or a thousand cuts? Our outrage/action should be about what's happening, regardless of method. And what if the bombing killed Russians or Iranians (our country claims both support the Assad regime)? Have we thought of the potential war that might ensue from such haphazard action?

And what early promising results of our intensified fight against terrorism is Banks speaking of? I am all for eradicating terrorism, but have we not learned that greater force and intensity does not scare away terrorists, rather it reinforces the narrative of “the West is at war with us” espoused by such groups? You can't bomb away such an ideology.

War is not the only answer to fight this elusive “terrorism,” so how about a strategy that's beyond dropping more bombs instead?

There is a lot more criticism that can be leveled against Trump's actions, but my main criticism is of those who surround him and the role they play. A blanketed, unabashed praise of any president and cheerleading him without any critical analysis of his actions or their consequences only enables him further. Enabling can also be done by being silent when truth needs to be spoken, by being complacent, by shirking your responsibilities as a representative of your community.

Our congressmen and -women and our senators are not elected to sing the praises of the one who occupies the Oval Office. Our system of checks and balances fails if neither takes place.