If Congress Wants Troops in Syria, Declare War
I have a bad habit. Actually, I have quite a few of them. One is that I go to bed late.
Sometimes 2 or 3 a.m.
It was late Sunday night, long after Monday’s website post was written and scheduled, that I stumbled across an announcement from the White House that the president was bringing American troops home from the northern part of Syria and that Turkey was preparing to invade.
I am not a foreign affairs expert. Chances are, you aren’t either. I foolishly supported President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq while we were still smarting from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and swallowing the fiction of WMD.
I regret that. Iraq was a costly mistake. Yes, we needed to kill the Taliban in Afghanistan and later, ISIS in Syria.
But fighting forever? That wasn’t the plan.
Besides, if ISIS really has been castrated, why the heck are we still mired in a miserable country that’s fighting a civil war?
So my initial response to the news about Syria was one of relief.
My second thought was that when I wrote about this today I’d delight liberals and aggravate the neo-cons.
I know now that’s unlikely.
It quickly became clear Monday that Trump’s decision was being met with almost universal disapproval. Every major politician - from Lindsey Graham to Nancy Pelosi - denounced the withdrawal as reckless and dangerous.
So did all of the talking heads on the anti-Trump cable news channels.
“How will our allies ever trust us?” squealed Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC.
The lone supporter of the move was Sen. Rand Paul. Congress’ contrarian.
I hesitate to point this out, but one of Trump’s campaign promises was to extricate America from foreign wars.
Yes, I know about the Kurds. I know they fought with us to help wipe out ISIS. I know they’re guarding captured ISIS prisoners right now and that the Turks, who plan to invade Syria, are their enemies.
I also know that Turkey is one of our NATO partners. No matter how odious Recept Tayyip Erdogan may be, we’re stuck in a treaty of mutual defense with him.
Maybe this IS a precipitous, hare-brained decision by Trump. If Congress truly believes that we must keep troops in Syria why don’t members do their jobs and invoke Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution and declare war?
If they’re too cowardly to do that - and we know they are - why not another Authorization for the Use of Military Force?
The AUMF enacted by Congress on September 14, 2001, gave the president the power to use military force against “those who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”
ISIS did not attack us on September 11th. That authorization has nothing to do with Syria.
Instead of handwringing, Washington politicians should stand up and take a vote. Tell the American people that Congress is willing to keep troops in Syria, well, forever.