The illegal attack on Syria that the Trump administration has been threatening for the last week has started:
President Trump ordered a military attack against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday, joining allies Britain and France in launching missile strikes in retaliation for what Western nations said was the deliberate gassing of Syrian civilians.
The U.S. and its allies have committed a flagrant violation of international law, and Trump has trampled on the Constitution once again. This attack probably won’t succeed on its own terms, and it risks a larger conflagration. It remains to be seen how large and prolonged the latest intervention turns out to be, but whatever happens next it was wholly unnecessary for US security, a breach of the U.N. Charter, and completely illegal according to US law. If Congress does nothing to challenge the president’s illegal attack, they will be accepting own irrelevance in matters of war from now on.
Trump’s statement announcing the attack contained a lot of the usual moralizing rhetoric we have come to expect from presidents when they start unnecessary military interventions. At one point, he even refers to the “righteous power” of the US and its allies without appreciating how ridiculous and pompous this sounds to everyone in the region and most nations around the world. Incredibly, he addressed Syria’s patrons and asked, “What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children?” Trump should know the answer, since he just hosted one of the chief architects of the war on Yemen that the US has backed to the hilt for the last three years. Britain welcomed the Saudi crown prince earlier on, and France just hosted him in the last few days. All three have been arming and supporting the Saudis and their allies in Yemen no matter how many atrocities they commit. There may be governments that have the moral authority to lecture Syria and its allies over their atrocious conduct, but the Trump administration and our British and French allies aren’t among them.
Isabel Hardman reports on how the Syria intervention debate is developing in Britain:
Theresa May is holding an emergency Cabinet meeting today on how to respond to the latest chemical weapons attack in Syria. Already sources are briefing that the Prime Minister is prepared to take military action without a vote in Parliament, which has naturally enraged a number of parliamentarians.
Jeremy Corbyn has said that ‘parliament should always be given a say on military action’, and the SNP have said that a failure to do so would be a ‘scandal’. As we know from the military interventions of the past few years, parliament does not have any formal right to a vote before action, but since the Iraq War, it has become the convention for Prime Ministers to seek approval from MPs anyway.
The House of Commons famously refused to support the proposed 2013 bombing of the Syrian government, and that result embarrassed Obama into seeking Congressional authorization that was not forthcoming. Parliament unexpectedly set in motion of a chain of events that halted the U.S.-led attack on Syria back then, and hawks in both the U.S. and Britain have bitterly regretted letting elected representatives have anything to do with foreign policy ever since. The 2013 popular backlash against unnecessary and illegal war was a remarkable episode that has sadly not been repeated in the years that followed.
Washington, DC – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today (April 12, 2018) called for President Trump to refrain from using military action against Syria that would expand and escalate the conflict, and likely result in additional civilian and military casualties, more refugees, and fewer resources to invest in rebuilding American communities, and instead work toward peace. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is also a signatory on a bipartisan letter to be sent to President Trump urging him to uphold the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution by obtaining the required authorization from Congress before ordering a military attack against Syria.
In a letter to President Donald Trump, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:
“The people of Syria want peace more than anything else in the world. Attacking Syria will not bring their war-torn country any closer to peace. U.S. military action against Syria will simply escalate and prolong the war, resulting in more senseless death, destruction, and suffering.
“A US military attack against Syria will certainly reinvigorate and resurrect the terrorizing forces of jihad and increase the flow of refugees into Europe and the United States.