Syrian Airstrikes from a Vet’s Perspective

By John Stran

Veterans of the military have lived the news that most dread hearing every day, making their opinions on foreign affairs and global conflicts formed from first hand experiences as opposed to information gathered from a television set or computer.

Rick Williams, a former US army major, said he comes from a military culture where he refrains from speaking his whole opinion on military issues, and he is not alone in his beliefs.

Shanna Chick, a former Marine, tries to remain neutral and brief on issues she describes as touchy.

Their attitudes are from, as Williams said, the military culture. While in the military, they are taught not publicly criticize actions taken by someone of a higher leadership. Once they’ve finished their service, it’s a personal decision whether or not to continue the tradition.

Williams and Chick, who both work in YSU’s office of foreign affairs, spoke briefly about the recent strike in Syria. Williams described it as a difficult situation.

“President Trump is a different kind of leader,” Williams said. “While I wish sometimes he would take a more methodical approach to foreign affairs, I trust the national security team he has assembled.”

The recent strike was brought on by the belief that the Syrian government was responsible for releasing sarin, a lethal chemical gas, on their own people, killing at least 87.

Williams feels the Syrian government should be scolded if they actually committed this crime. His belief in some form of punishment comes from his empathy for the civilians of Syria.

“I think using gas on your own people, as Bashar al-Assad has presumably done, warrants a swift and stern response,” Williams said. “Not just from the US but from other countries and the UN as well.”

With this being said, Williams admits that there may be other political factors in play that he is unaware of.

Chick said she believes that the US administration did what they had to, that they were following an instinct that they felt was right.

As for any retaliation from Syria, Chick said that it’s a war and that it’s difficult to tell what Assad’s next plan of action will be.

“There’s tension here in the US as well as everywhere else in the world,” Chick said. “It comes down to communication between countries.”

Chick mirrored Williams in saying that there’s information that she’s probably unaware of. The media’s representation of what is happening in countries like Syria is something that she does not always believe whole-heartedly.

The two veterans’ refrained opinions give the idea that though they are retired, they still hold the mindset of a soldier. To be brief, straightforward and to respect the authority of higher powered officials appears to be a mindset, for some veterans, that never goes away.

“I feel terrible for the people of Syria,” Williams said. “We are all blessed to live in the United States.”