It only took John Bolton a week into his reign as President Trump’s new National Security Advisor for the notorious hawk to push the nation into an escalated war in the Middle East.
President Trump went on TV this evening to announce that the U.S., in conjunction with our allies the United Kingdom and France, was launching major missile strikes against military targets in Syria in retaliation for the flagrant violation of international prohibitions against the use of universally-banned chemical weapons during warfare.
This marks the second missile attack by the US against Syria after the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against his own country’s rebellious citizens.
In a televised address to the nation announcing the strikes tonight, Trump said “the purpose of our action tonight is to establish a strong deterrent” against the production and use of chemical weapons. Calling the ability to punish Syria for its impunity vital to our national security, the president vowed to “sustain this response” until it’s satisfied that it has achieved its goals.
The last time that Trump was moved to bomb Syria, he did so unilaterally without involving allies in the process, but telegraphed the bombing in advance so that the Syrians were able to remove equipment and personnel from the targeted airfields. Assad’s armed forces had the airfields back up and running within weeks, and the attack did nothing to stop chemical attacks.
While the U.S. Constitution limits the power to declare war and initiate military hostilities to Congress, in recent decades the President has been able to circumvent that rule by relying on the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Terrorists (AUMF) passed by Congress in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to launch military actions everywhere from Afghanistan to Iraq to Niger and anywhere else non-state sponsored combatants exist.
While it’s debatable whether an attack on Syria would fit within the definition of the AUMF, the use of chemical weapons by Syria, which is allied with Russia and Iran in a multi-front war against US-backed Kurdish and Sunni rebels and ISIS-affiliated fighters, makes the attacks an almost inevitable response if international norms are to be enforced.
The attacks come shortly after President Trump announced that he wanted to remove US troops from Syria altogether. With the latest escalation in the region, Trump’s isolationist campaign promises are fading under the influence of the hawkish Bush administration veterans he’s brought back into the White House.