ACTION ALERT: Trump Unilaterally Attacks Syria in America's Latest Illegal War
April 8, 2017
MoveOn.org & Hon. Barbara Lee / US Congress & CREDO Action & VoteVets & The New York Times
Donald Trump's decision to launch dozens of Tomahawk missiles in a military assault on Syria is an illegal and unauthorized escalation that could have devastating consequences, killing innocent Syrians and potentially costing the lives of US service members. Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia "deals a significant blow to relations between Russia and America" and poses" a serious obstacle for building of an international coalition to fight" global terrorism.
ACTION ALERT Trump Unilaterally Attacks Syria
(April 6, 2017) -- News is breaking that Donald Trump just ordered the launch of dozens of Tomahawk missiles to strike Syria.
It's an illegal and unauthorized escalation that could have devastating consequences, killing innocent Syrians and costing the lives of US service members.
Things could spiral quickly in the coming hours, and it's up to MoveOn members to lead a chorus of progressives in every corner of this nation saying NO to bombing the people of Syria.
Will you sign an emergency petition to Congress right now?
Congress must force consideration of an Authorization for Use of Military Force, and members of Congress should vote "no" and halt Trump's march toward war.
Let's be clear: There's no doubt that Bashar Assad is a brutal dictator who has slaughtered his own people and is complicit in the use of chemical weapons. But this is no humanitarian mission.
These are missiles ordered by a flailing president with plummeting approval ratings, trying to show how "tough" he can be.
The result will likely be increased suffering for the Syrian people. And this unilateral US attack could possibly even draw in Russia and Iran, which have been close partners of the Assad regime.
The US cannot bomb its way to peace, but it does have an essential role to play in the world, including:
* 1) welcoming increased numbers of refugees fleeing Syria,
* 2) fully supporting international relief efforts for those most affected by this brutal civil war,
* 3) engaging in multilateral diplomacy at the United Nations to isolate Syria, and 4) sanctioning Russia and other nations which enable the Assad regime.
But none of this will be possible unless we first halt Trump's march toward war.
Please click here to add your name to an emergency petition calling for Congress to act.
Thanks for all you do.
Congress Must Debate US Intervention in Syria
Congresswoman Barbara Lee / US House of Representatives
WASHINGTON (April 7, 2017) -- Yesterday, Donald Trump authorized a missile strike against Syria, launching more than 50 missiles at a Syrian military base, in response to the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons against civilians.
This is an act of war.
Congress must come back from recess to perform its constitutional obligation to debate and vote on any Authorization of the Use of Military Force against a sovereign nation.
I was the lone vote against the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force because I knew it would give any president a blank check for endless war. Unfortunately, that is exactly what it has done.
Trump's Syria strikes are far beyond the scope of the 2001 war authorization, and escalating US military intervention in Syria is not only dangerous, it is illegal. Congress must do its job and live up to its constitutional responsibility.
There is no military solution to the crisis in Syria. We must support a comprehensive strategy that promotes a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be held accountable by the United Nations -- not by US missile strikes.
I am calling on Speaker Ryan to hold a debate and a vote on any authorization of military force in Syria. Will you join me?
Tell Speaker Ryan to honor the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize wars and hold a debate on military intervention in Syria.
Thank you for standing with me to oppose Trump's unconstitutional and unchecked use of military force.
Tell Congress: Stop Trump's illegal war in Syria
Tessa Levine / CREDO Action from Working Assets
The CREDO Mobil petition to congressional leaders reads:
"Rein in Donald Trump's illegal military strikes without congressional authorization now. Hold immediate and emergency deliberations on Trump's illegal escalation of military engagement in Syria."
(April 7, 2017) -- Donald Trump has launched an illegal war in Syria.
Last night, he launched Tomahawk missiles into Syriawithout seeking any congressional approval. Since taking office, Trump has made a series of rash, hawkish and barbaric combat decisions that have already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians and American military personnel. But this is worse than anything we have seen so far.
We need Congress to act quickly and decisively to rein Trump in. Trump has launched illegal military strikes. Now is not the time for congressional leaders to head out of Washington for spring recess. They must assert their constitutional authority and hold immediate and emergency deliberations on Trump's continued reckless and unauthorized military actions in Syria.
It is undeniable that Assad's regime is responsible for triggering a catastrophic humanitarian crisis -- but Trump is acting in his own best interests, not those of the Syrian people. As humanitarians confronting the horror of the Syrian civil war, we must consider how we can best protect civilians and end the violence. Rash, illegal acts of war are not the way.
The backwards step of instigating illegal strikes in Syria is horrifying on multiple levels. The current Authorization for Use of Military Force that Congress passed post-9/11 does not authorize this strike. (1) This latest attack also violates international law.
The Charter of the United Nations is crystal clear on when it is legal to go to war: in the case of self defense or when it is approved by the UN Security Council. (2) Trump not only met neither of these conditions, he also did not give Congress a chance to debate and vote on this illegal escalation.
Donald Trump has never articulated a vision or endgame for our involvement in Syria. Throughout his racist and misogynistic campaign, he tried to present himself as an anti-war candidate. But since his election, he has failed to invest in staff or strategies that will lead to anything other than American and civilian bloodshed.
Escalating our military entanglement in Middle Eastern countries – with the inevitable escalation of civilian casualties that comes with it – has been shown to actually help terrorists with recruitment.
Trump's reckless action is nothing more than a publicity stunt and an attempt to boost his plunging poll numbers and change the narrative for a dysfunctional administration that appears to be in complete disarray. It is a reckless abuse of power that shows a complete disregard for both the law and human life, and Congress must hold him accountable.
Congressional leaders must assert their constitutional authority to rein in a rash, out of control so-called president putting the lives of American military personnel and innocent civilians at risk, and they must do it now.
Now is the time for Congress to check and balance Trump.
ACTION:Tell congressional leaders: Rein in Donald Trump's unauthorized military strikes and hold immediate emergency deliberations on Trump's illegal escalation of military engagement in Syria. Click here to sign the petition.
Thank you for standing for peace,
Tessa Levine is the Campaign Manager for CREDO Action from Working Assets
(1) John Nichols, "Trump Launched Missile Strikes on Syria Without Congressional Authorization," The Nation, April 6, 2017.
(2) Jack L. Goldsmith, "What Happened to the Rule of Law?," The New York Times, Aug. 31, 2013.
ACTION ALERT: What Is Trump's Plan?
Demand a Request Authorizaton to Use Military Force
Major General (ret.) Paul Eaton / VoteVets
Last night's strike against airfields in Syria was a limited response, but the larger problem of the Assad regime remains. We must hear from Donald Trump what his plans are.
A single strike is a tactical response to a strategic problem. What is his plan? Or is this what Republicans deemed a "pin prick" response, when President Obama proposed the same thing?
If he at all intends to use force further, either against ISIS or Assad, he must go to Congress for approval. We stand with members of both parties who have consistently said that during the previous administration, and the current one. Now they need to hear from their constituents who agree:
Add your name:
Tell President Trump and Congress that they MUST vote for a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force if President Trump is going to escalate our involvement in Syria any further.
Further, President Trump must be willing to take in refugees, now that we are becoming steadily more involved in Syria's civil war. TelePrompTer sympathies for the dead and wounded are empty when he won't bring these innocent children and their parents to safety.
It is time for Donald Trump to admit he was wrong, and uphold President Obama's decision to bring in more refugees.
Dozens of US Missiles Hit Air Base in Syria
Michael R. Gordon, Helnene Cooper and Michael D. Shear / The New York Times
WASHINGTON (April 6, 2017) -- President Trump said Thursday night that the United States had carried out a missile strike in Syria in response to the Syrian government's chemical weapons attack this week, which killed more than 80 civilians.
"Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air base in Syriafrom where the chemical attack was launched," Mr. Trump said in remarks at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. "It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons."
Mr. Trump -- who was accompanied by senior advisers, including Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist; Reince Priebus, his chief of staff; his daughter Ivanka Trump; and others -- said his decision had been prompted in part by what he called the failures by the world community to respond effectively to the Syrian civil war.
"Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all failed, and failed very dramatically," the president said, referring to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. "As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen, and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies."
Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, told reporters Friday morning that the strike "deals a significant blow to relations between Russia and America, which are already in a poor state," according to the news agency RIA.
Mr. Peskov said the strike did nothing to combat international terrorism. "On the contrary, this creates a serious obstacle for building of an international coalition to fight it and to effectively resist this universal evil," he said. Fighting terrorism was Mr. Putin's stated goal when he dispatched the Russian military to Syria in September 2015, though its main effect has been to shore up Mr. Assad.
Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Russian forces had been notified in advance of the strike. "Military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield," he said. No Russian aircraft were at the base, military officials said.
"We are assessing the results of the strike," Captain Davis added. "Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat airfield, reducing the Syrian government's ability to deliver chemical weapons."
The cruise missiles struck the airfield beginning around 8:40 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, and the strikes continued for three to four minutes.
According to Captain Davis, the missiles were fired from the destroyers Porter and Ross in the eastern Mediterranean.
Talal Barazi, the governor of Homs Province, where the base sits, told Reuters early Friday that ambulances and fire trucks were scrambling to respond to fires there.
Administration officials described the strikes Mr. Trump ordered as a graphic message to the world that the president was no longer willing to stand idly by as Mr. Assad used horrific weapons in his country's long civil war. To do otherwise, they said, would be to essentially bless the use of chemical weapons by Mr. Assad and others who might use them.
"This clearly indicates the president is willing to take decisive action when called for," Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson told reporters in Florida. He said Mr. Trump had concluded after seeing the results of the chemical attack that the United States could no longer "turn away, turn a blind eye."
"The more we fail to respond to the use of these weapons, the more we begin to normalize their use," Mr. Tillerson said, a thinly veiled reference to President Barack Obama's decision to refrain from strikes in 2013.
Mr. Tillerson added that the United States had not informed Mr. Putin about the coming missile strikes and that Mr. Trump had not spoken with the Russian leader in the hours afterward.
The decision to act came with a swiftness that took observers of the new president by surprise. After being briefed on the chemical attack shortly after it occurred, American intelligence agencies and their allies worked quickly to confirm the source of the chemical weapons, administration officials said.
In Washington the next day, the president convened a meeting of senior members of his National Security Council, where military aides presented him with three options. Officials said Mr. Trump peppered them with questions and directed them to focus on two of those options.
On Thursday, after Mr. Trump traveled to Florida for his dinner with President Xi Jinping of China, he convened what officials described as a "decision meeting" with his top national security aides -- many of them with him at Mar-a-Lago, and others on secure video screens from Washington.
After what aides called a "meeting of considerable length," Mr. Trump authorized the missile strikes before starting the dinner with Mr. Xi.
"It was important during the president's deliberations," said H. R. McMaster, the president's national security adviser, to weigh the risk of action against the "risk of this continued, egregious, inhumane attacks on innocent civilians with chemical weapons."
A military official said the attack was at the more limited end of the military options presented to Mr. Trump on Thursday by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. The official said the strike was intended to send a signal to Mr. Assad about the United States' intention to use military force if he continues to use chemical weapons.
It was the first time the White House had ordered military action against forces loyal to Mr. Assad.
Mr. McMaster said the missile strikes would not eliminate Mr. Assad's ability to use chemical weapons, but would degrade it. He said the United States military had specifically sought to avoid hitting what it believes is a facility containing more sarin gas at the airfield.
He said the military had also sought to "minimize risk" to citizens of other countries -- specifically Russians -- who might have been in the area at the time.
The Pentagon on Thursday night released a graphic showing the flight track of Syrian aircraft as they left the Shayrat field on Tuesday and carried out the chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province.
The speed with which the Trump administration responded -- and remarks earlier in the day by American officials who said that options were still being considered -- appeared intended to maximize the element of surprise, and contrasted sharply with the Obama administration's methodical scrutiny of a military response.
It was Mr. Trump's most important order so far for the use of force -- virtually all of his administration's other operations in Syria, Yemen and Iraq have been carried out under authorization delegated to his commanders -- and appeared intended to send a message to North Korea, Iran and other potential adversaries that the new commander in chief was prepared to act, sometimes on short notice.
Two Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, praised the strike in a statement and called for Mr. Trump to go further: to "take Assad's air force -- which is responsible not just for the latest chemical weapons attack, but countless atrocities against the Syrian people -- completely out of the fight."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel also expressed support.
Mr. Tillerson is scheduled to arrive in Moscow on Tuesday. Administration officials said the strike was intended to put Mr. Tillerson in a position to tell the Russians that they should use their leverage to ensure that Mr. Assad's government does not carry out more chemical weapon strikes and to facilitate a diplomatic resolution to the civil war in Syria.
The events of Thursday night marked a dramatic turnabout for Mr. Trump, who until this week had displayed virtually no interest in a deeper role for the United States in the long, bloody conflict. Well before he became a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump pleaded with Mr. Obama in 2013 to avoid the kind of strike that he has now ordered.
As recently as this week, before seeing images of dying children gasping for breath during the chemical attack, Mr. Trump and his top aides hardly appeared inclined to more forcefully assert American power in the country. But the change seemed to emerge during a Rose Garden news conference Wednesday afternoon, as Mr. Trump reacted to news, and images, of the attack with horror and a newfound desire to respond.
In less than 24 hours, his shift was reflected at the Pentagon, where senior Defense Department and military officials began drafting options for Mr. Trump, and in Florida, where Mr. Tillerson hinted at a strong response to Mr. Assad's actions.
In remarks late Thursday evening to a small group of reporters, recorded and quickly broadcast to the world, Mr. Trump announced his decision.
"We ask for God's wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world," Mr. Trump said solemnly. "We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who passed. And we hope as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will in the end prevail."
David E. Sanger contributed reporting from Washington, and Neil MacFarquhar from Moscow.
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