Around 100 activists rallied in front of Trump Tower in Chicago Friday to protest President Donald Trump’s missile strike on Syria, which saw some 60 Tomahawk missiles strike an air base that defense officials said contained Syrian Chemical Weapons.
The missile attack came after reports and videos circulated Tuesday showing women and children gasping for breath and foaming at the mouth in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, in the rebel-held territory of Idlib Province. Defense officials would later say these people were fighting the effects of a brutal nerve agent like Sarin gas.
The chemical attack was quickly blamed on the Syrian government after eyewitness reports came out stating people saw Syrian government jets drop the chemical agents. The attack seemed similar to a gas attack that happened in 2013 under the Obama Administration which observers and officials found the Syrian Government was found at fault for.
During the rally in front of Trump Tower, Ali Hasan, a member of the group People United Against Oppression and a Chicago Pakistani Muslim organization urged that fact finding should have taken place before the government dropped bombs.
“There is no proof that Assad committed this horrific crime, and if he did he deserves action but not until it’s proven,” Hasan said. “We have waged many wars in the past only to come back and say ‘oops we didn’t have all the information.’ When are we going to learn to do fact finding first and not dropping bombs?”
Ian Cox, a Chicago resident who attended Friday’s rally felt that this ‘hasty’ attack on Syria was used to divert attention from the growing controversy brewing in Trump’s cabinet.
“[Trump] is launching this attack in an effort to flex his military muscle, show that he actually does have a grasp on world affairs, that he doesn’t rely on Steve Bannon for it, and that he’s trying ultimately, in my opinion, to distract from all problems that he has been embroiled with, with nearly every single member of his cabinet, himself included, of being linked in some way or accused of being linked to Russian interference in the U.S. election.”
In light of the gas attack and subsequent missile strike in Syria, many leading establishment democrats that had been fighting Trump’s policies since he took the presidency in January, had an about-face when it comes to the country, with many supporting the president’s actions.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival in the 2016 election supported the attack on Syria but urged the administration to take on a “broader strategy to end Syria’s Civil war”.
Many leading democratic voices, many in Illinois, spoke about the strike. While most didn’t outright condemn it, many urged the President to address congress and the American people before taking more action in Syria. Though Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has clashed non-stop with the president since he took office in January, he supported Trump’s actions by stating:
“There’s a standard when chemical weapons were used in World War I. It was a declaration where the world was gonna be, and there’s one person that can make sure that we hold up our values – our human values and values across the waterfront and that’s the [President of] the United States of America. So, I support it.”
When President Obama was faced with the same questions of intervention in 2013 after Assad and the Syrian government was accused of gassing its own people, many leading republicans came out and condemned a quick action. Now, many of them support Trump’s action. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in 2013 said this about Obama possibly committing a strike on Syria:
“I believe the President’s proposed military strike in Syria cannot achieve its stated objectives. In fact, I fear it will make things worse.” Said Ryan in 2013.
After Trump’s strike on Syria, Ryan had this to say.
“Earlier this week the Assad Regime murdered dozens of innocent men, women, and children in a barbaric chemical weapons attack. Tonight the United States responded. This action was appropriate and just,” said Ryan in his official statement.
The biggest flip-flopper on the issue of a military strike on Syria, however, is Trump himself, who tweeted dozens of times in 2013 against the idea of Obama performing a military strike in the country. One tweet reads “AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!”