President Donald Trump conducted his first direct military strikes against Syria, ordering the U.S. forces to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles that successfully hit multiple targets, including the airstrip, aircraft and fuel stations, on the Shayrat Air Base. The Pentagon said the base was used to store the chemical weapons used in devastating attack earlier this week.
It was undoubtedly a big decision – and a striking reversal from his position when former President Barack Obama considered doing the same back in 2013 – that was carried out with any Congressional approval.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, discussed the issue with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
“I fully concur that the regime has to go, because as long as Assad is there that fighting is going to go on, that terrible war is going to go on,” he told the host. “But this is not something that can be accomplished via the air at a standoff location. At most, we can hope that this will deter the regime from using chemical weapons again. That is probably the most significant thing you could hope for as well as a deterrent to other regimes in the future by using chemical weapons.”
Schiff also confessed he asked the Director of National Intelligence if the strike was legal.
“There are still a lot of issues to be resolved and one of them for the Congress is all of this is being done, not just the attack today, but is being done without any congressional vote, any congressional authorization and Congress really needs to deal with this,” the lawmaker continued. “None of what we’re doing in Syria is authorized and this is an issue I took with the Obama administration.”
He is not the only one to urge caution. In fact, a number of Democrats are calling on the president to ask for congressional approval to use military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do," said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer in a statement. “It is incumbent on the Trump administration to come up with a strategy and consult with Congress before implementing it. I salute the professionalism and skill of our Armed Forces who took action today.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had a similar outlook.
“The crisis in Syria will not be resolved by one night of airstrikes," she commented. “Tonight’s strike in Syria appears to be a proportional response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons. If the President intends to escalate the U.S. military’s involvement in Syria, he must to come to Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force which is tailored to meet the threat and prevent another open-ended war in the Middle East.”
However, some completely opposed Trump’s decision.
This is an act of war. Congress needs to come back into session & hold a debate. Anything less is an abdication of our responsibility. https://t.co/GvHML3ByeI— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) April 7, 2017
While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 7, 2017
The President needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 7, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Joshua Roberts