Trump’s Syria Strike Was Unconstitutional and Unwise

Donald Trump

Early the morning of August 21, 2013, six densely populated neighborhoods in Syria “were jolted awake by a series of explosions, followed by an oozing blanket of suffocating gas,” the Washington Post reported at the time. “Unknown to Syrian officials, U.S. spy agencies recorded each step in the alleged chemical attack, from the extensive preparations to the launching of rockets to the after-action assessments by Syrian officials. Those records and intercepts would become the core of the Obama administration’s evidentiary case linking the Syrian government to what one official called an ‘indiscriminate, inconceivable horror’—the use of outlawed toxins to kill nearly 1,500 civilians, including at least 426 children.”

Days later, President Obama declared that he was ready to order a military strike on Syria to punish its leader, Bashar al-Assad, for using chemical weapons while waging civil war, but added that as “president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy,” he would consult Congress. Legislators never did vote to approve a strike, in part because the American public did not want to intervene militarily in Syria.

And a bitter Obama Administration critic, Donald Trump, took to Twitter to weigh in. “If Obama attacks Syria and innocent civilians are hurt and killed, he and the U.S. will look very bad!” the real estate developer wrote. “What I am saying is stay out of Syria,” Trump added days later. “AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER,” he emphasized, “DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!”

Most importantly, Trump Tweeted this:

What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013

Trump explicitly understood that a military response would require congressional approval. Yet Thursday, Trump ordered a strike on Syria without seeking that approval, citing a chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime. “Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles were fired from American destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean at Al Shayrat airfield,” The New York Times reported.The cost in missiles alone was roughly $50 million.

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