I dislike 99.9% of what President Donald Trump (shudder) does but I’m torn on the recent airstrikes against the cruel Assad Regime. The military action was in retaliation for an Assad-ordered chemical gas attack against his own citizens, including men, women, and children, that killed at least 60 people. I like the idea of fighting back on behalf of the innocent people attacked and/or killed in Syria. I liked the idea four years ago too when President Barack Obama suggested it was a good idea and the Republican House of Representatives and their conservative constituents (one of them being Donald Trump) cried foul. Trump even tweeted multiple times in 2013 that Obama should not bomb Syrian targets, going so far as to say Obama might do so because his poll numbers were “in tailspin”. That’s amusing considering the now-President’s approval ratings just hit their lowest percentage yet at 35%.
I do not, however, like the lack of effectiveness of these airstrikes and the fact that peaceful tactics were not used first. Assad has 19 more airfields from which he can launch attacks against his people. The Administration also did not consult Congress before staging their attack (something Trump said would be a violation of the constitution back in 2013 when he thought Obama might do so (he didn’t)). And worst yet, Trump reportedly notified the Russian government of their intentions prior to the airstrike, allowing Putin’s people to warn their ally in Syria to move a lot of his aircraft and people out of the way. The damage was then limited to runways, buildings, and military supplies. The other, most obvious reason to not like the airstrikes is the threat of possible retaliation and increases in military conflict in the already busy region. Trump was pretty worried about that possibility in 2013 when he tweeted (which, by the way, he could stop doing any day now and we’d all be better for it) that there was no benefit to bombing Assad’s forces in Syria. He’s wrong – stopping chemical attacks on innocent people would be one good one – but it is possible that counter-attacks against Americans could follow these strikes. Anything the United States does in the Middle East could lead to retaliation, including doing nothing. Stopping a cruel dictator from committing war crimes against his own population is a worthwhile action. Conservatives and their current champion, Trump, could always agree to accept Syrian refugees instead of worrying about possible retaliation but we know they are not likely to ever take that path, instead fearing that every refugee is a terrorist in disguise. That is, of course, not the case and the existing vetting process for both immigrants and asylum-seekers is already extreme enough to prevent that happening.
Map 199 shows how some governments approve or disapprove of the airstrikes by the United States Government in Syria. I made this map last night using information from this CNN article. Countries in cool colors (blue, green, purple) approve of the airstrikes against Assad’s airbase while warm colors (red, orange, yellow) indicate disapproval. Governments against the actions include Russia, China, Iran, and, of course, Syria. There are mixed feelings all over the globe but these governments have issued official statements. There are plenty of people in the United States that oppose the strikes and probably some in Russia and China that don’t, but the official stances of these countries is indicated below.
Some of the countries that have approved of the military action include the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Japan, and Australia. As the US government considers additional strikes I am sure the list of governments on either side will shift depending on potential civilian casualties, the types and volume of ordinance used, the duration of the conflict, and whether or not other countries offer up military support.
If you’re interested in more background information on the conflict in Syria including the major players and history in the region, this New York Times article has many great maps and additional information. It has not been updated since 2016 but the depth of knowledge available is impressive. The maps, and there are tons, are exquisite.
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Map 200 features the 25 top tourist attractions in the country of Peru. I came across a list of these attractions and the corresponding map while perusing maps of Peru (pun very much intended), which I was doing out of pure boredom. My son, James, has been finicky today. I’m watching him because it’s Saturday and Beth had to work. That means, however, that I wasn’t able to create something super special for my 200th map. I instead picked a random country and started looking for a good map to share with you all, which, thanks to Touropia, I have found.
And here’s a close-up of that tight grouping near Cusco:
I have never been to South America but after reading this list I think Peru would be an excellent vacation destination! The beauty and culture in just these 25 locations is unquestionable and I assume the rest of the country has a lot to offer the traveler as well.
The top attraction in Peru (number one in the maps above) is also “one of the most beautiful and impressive ancient sites in the world”, Machu Picchu. The ‘Lost City of the Incas’ is in the top ten of my international must-see bucket list along with the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House, the Pyramids of Giza, and Venice. At least two of my friends on social media have visited Machu Picchu and posted pictures and I am supremely jealous (like I am any time someone else gets to travel, really).
Now that I’ve spoiled the somewhat obvious conclusion to the rankings, the rest of the list can be seen here. Most of the pictures featured within the list are below for your enjoyment.
Until next time,
Bonus Map Link: Mapping Member’s Book Trends on Audible.com
Bonus Bonus Map Link: Mapping the Achievement Gap
Bonus Non-Map Link: 13 Epic Movie Sets That Were Actually Miniature Models