Emily’s Weekly Political Scoop: The Airstrike in Syria, Biden Discussing Border Issues with Mexican Border, and Asian American Hate Crimes Increasing


Emily Landolfi, Staff Writer

This week’s topics are not going to be the lightest or simplest to read about; however, they are massively important to understand, so let’s get started.


Writers at NBC news explain via their article titled “Biden Orders Airstrikes in Syria, Retaliating against Iran-Backed Militias” that on Thursday, February 25th, Biden ordered airstrikes on buildings in eastern Syria that were claimed to be used by Iranian-backed militias, and the strike was ordered as retaliation for rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq. In the span of one week in Iraq, there were three rocket attacks plus a deadly strike in the northern Iraqui town that hit a U.S.-led collation base. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that the strikes were “proportionate” and “defensive.” He stated that two F-15 fighter jets dropped seven precision guided munitions on the buildings, located near the Iraqui border, destroying nine and partially destroying two. This is the first known use of military force by the Biden administration who emphasized for weeks on focusing on more challenges posed by China. His decision for the strikes seemed to me more about sending a message to Iran and its proxies on its personnel in Iraq, even in sensitive diplomatic periods (Luce). 


Additionally, the reactions of the strikes varied. At first, the Iranian officials did not respond, and the Syrain Government called it “cowardly U.S. aggression” in the country’s foreign ministry statement. It also stated that they violated international law and consequences will take place that will increase the region’s situation. Russia, one of  Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief backers, claimed they were only given four to five minutes before the strikes and the U.S. was operating illegally in Syria, advocating for better communication with the Biden Administration (Luce). 


However, the Pentagon defended the strikes and it’s legality by using Article II of the U.S. Constitution which grants power to the President as commander in chief, and cited article 51 of the U.N. charter which provided countries with the right to respond to attacks with “self-defense.” Kirby also argued that they could not inform Russia too far in advance because it could jeopardize the “operational security” (Luce). Biden’s actions received backlash from Democrats in Congress. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foregin Relations Committee, stated, “The American people deserve to hear the Administration’s rationale for these strikes and its legal justification for acting without coming to Congress…. Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances. Congress must be fully briefed on this matter expeditiously” (Luce). 


On Monday, a different NBC article titled “U.S. Airstrike in Syria on Iranian-Backed Militia Killed One Fighter, Wounded Two, Pentagon Says” was published confirming vai the Pentagon that one fighter in an Iraian-backed militia was killed and two others were wounded. Additionally, a London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said the raids had killed at least 22 fighters from the Popular Mobilization Force, an Iraqui umbrella group consisting of majority of Shia paramilitaries. Plus, Kataib Hezbollah, one of the main Irainian-back paramilitary groups in Iraq, claimed that one of its fighters was killed in the airstrikes (Luce).


In other news, the New York Times states that Biden sought help from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico to avert the new crisis at the border. He is hoping for diplomatic cooperation with one of the supporters of the harsh tactics imposed by Former President Donald Trump. For some background news, Lopez Obrador won Trump’s administration for cooperating with his immigartion agenda. Due to the increase of illegal migrant crossing at certain parts of the southwestern border, Biden is hoping that Lopex Obrador will be a partner in preventing another out-of-control migration from Central America, planning to not resort to Trump’s full range of policies. Lopez Obrador seems open to collaborating, issuing a joint statement committing to address climate change, the pandemic, and migration north (Kanno-Youngs).


Let’s talk about the influx of Asian American hate crimes in America because of the COVID-19 pandemic. BBC states that late last year, the United Nations reported an intense, alarming level of racially motivated violence and hate against Asian Americans. Stop AAPI Hate, an advocacy group, said they received more than 2,800 reports of hate incidents nationwide last year towards Asian Amerians. The New York City hate crimes tax force investigated 27 incidents in 2020, an increase from 2019. Oakland, California has added police patrols and set up a command and post in Chinatown (“Covid ‘hate Crimes’ against Asian Americans on Rise”).


A data chart using 2,808 reported incidents between March to December 2020 showcases the specific discrimination Asian Americans have been facing. The data calculated  to be 70.9% verbal harassment, 21.4% shunning, 8.7% physical assault, 8% workplace discirmination or refusal of service, and 6.4% of being coughed or spit on. Some specific horrible instances that have taken over the media includes an eldelry Thai immigrant dying from being shoved on the ground, a Fillopino-American being slashed in the face with a box cutter, and a Chinese woman being slapped and set on fire, and there are so many more (“Covid ‘hate Crimes’ against Asian Americans on Rise”). 


In an interview between Scott Simon and journalist Jennifer Chen, she explains why such violence has spiked. When Simon asked why hatred increased due to the pandemic, she responded about how when she called out the racist terminology used to call COVID, non-Asian Americans claimed how it was “not a big deal” and “it is just words” and “it is not real racism.” However, she said how her and her friends saw how much worse racism was getting in their communities (Weekend Edition Saturday). BBC furthers this as it explains that Asian American advocates have linked the rise of violence to the anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S. to the racist terms used by people high in power, like Trump and others within the federal government (“Covid ‘hate Crimes’ against Asian Americans on Rise”).


The world is incredibly complicated and I’m sure a lot of people have been confused and baffled about what has been going on. Hopefully this article was able to answer some of your questions! 

Works Cited 

—. “Covid ‘hate Crimes’ against Asian Americans on Rise.” BBC News, 1 Mar. 2021, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56218684.

Kanno-Youngs, Zolan, and Michael Shear. “Biden Seeks Help on Border From Mexican President.” The New York Times, 2 Mar. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/03/01/us/politics/biden-amlo-mexico.html.

Luce, Dan, et al. “Biden Orders Airstrikes in Syria, Retaliating against Iran-Backed Militias.” NBC News, 26 Feb. 2021, www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/biden-airstrikes-syria-retaliating-against-iran-backed-militias-n1258912.

Luce, Dan, and Mosheh Gains. “U.S. Airstrike in Syria on Iranian-Backed Militia Killed One Fighter, Wounded Two, Pentagon Says.” NBC News, 2 Mar. 2021, www.nbcnews.com/news/world/u-s-air-strike-syria-iranian-backed-militia-killed-one-n1259180.

Weekend Edition Saturday. Hosted by Scott Simon, NPR, 27 February 2021. Transcript. https://www.npr.org/2021/02/27/972056885/anti-asian-hate-crimes-rise-dramatically-amid-pandemic