President Donald Trump has determined that urgent action in Syria was necessary to degrade the ability of the Bashar al-Assad regime to deliver further chemical weapons attacks there or anywhere else in wake of the horrific gas attack in Iblid.
But further action is going to have to involve Congress.
There is no authorization to use force against Syria and the Assad regime. This is an Article I question. Congress still needs to debate that.
Under the War Powers Act, a president has 60 days to act without Congressional authorization.
But military forces have been conducting air strikes in Syria since 2014, and boots have been on the ground since 2015.
Relying on more than decade old authorizations to use force are not sufficient. This is a new war, and it is clear President Trump has long-term objectives in Syria.
Retaliating against Syria may be the right thing to do, but now getting the support of the American people’s representatives in Congress is the constitutional thing to do. Congress would likely back Trump’s actions.
And American armed forces deserve to know that Congress has their backs
As the American people receive clarity on the specifics of the attack in Idlib, the question remains whether spending our time, treasure and blood in Syria worth it? Is this in America’s interests?
Does this put America first?
That is the question every decision must be based on, the only premise on which we can act and no other.
Taking military action as a first resort rarely turns out well. We’ve taken regime change in Iraq and again in Libya, turning both into active civil wars, and the jury’s still out in Afghanistan. May seem like a good idea, but we haven’t had much luck with it in the past decade.
Regime change? To whom?
Who would we be turning Syria over to?
There is little basis for civil society, religious freedom and stable parliamentary-style systems there.
What comes next?
The question is whether what’s left behind is better than what existed before, and the failure of regime change over the past two Administrations demands caution.
Congress must decide the extent that further action is warranted.
Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.