Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
Donald Trump has ratcheted up tensions dramatically by bombing Syria – increasing the risk of a proxy war with Russia – and of course China’s ally North Korea. Let’s talk about Syria today.
President Trump is still basking in the glow off his decision to launch missiles at a Syrian air base. But he has no comprehensive strategy. So Congressional leaders are preparing a new push to get their ideas for pressuring Syria, Russia and Iran. Trump campaigned against military involvement in Syria, but in less than 100 days he has now taken us deep into the Syrian civil war.
Are there still diplomatic tools available to the US? Democratic and Republican congresspeople think there may be. Several bills are being put forward to intensify sanctions against Syria, Russia and Iran. Some are old bills, being reframed to stop Assad’s atrocities. Bipartisan House Foreign Affairs Committee leaders Edward Royce and Eliot Engel are proposing legislation that will “give the Administration much-needed diplomatic and financial leverage to stop Assad’s slaughter of innocent Syrians. It encourages real negotiations by targeting Assad’s backers, Putin and the Ayatollah.” Senator Marco Rubio is proposing isolating three Iranian commercial airlines suspected of funneling fighters and weapons to Assad.
Did the Trump administration’s missile attack make the Syrian people any safer? No. within a day, planes were taking off from the same air base and bombing the same towns. Assad has killed half a million of his citizens with bombs and guns.
Did the missile strike make regime change more likely? No. Assad may have wanted to use chemical weapons to show his enemies that he’s willing to do anything, in order to sap their morale.
Did the missile strike make the United States any safer? Some say that showing we’re “strong” will deter our enemies, but most say we are no safer.
Does the administration know whether it wants Assad to go or not? Before the attack, both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said that the U.S. wasn’t seeking Assad’s ouster. Now Haley is saying “Regime change is something that we think is going to happen,” while Tillerson incredibly said there had been no change in U.S. policy. He has even recently said that Assad’s fate is “up to the Syrian people,” even though they have no political process available to do this. Putin continues to send military forces to prop Assad up, and the US and Russia are operating at cross-purposes. Russia may not even tell us which areas in Syria to avoid any more.
Does the administration have a coherent foreign policy in general? No. All the major players on the Trump foreign policy team are contradicting one another. Do we have clear authority to bomb Syria? The UN Charter forbids it without Security Council permission or in clear self-defense. And the old 9/11 authorization to fight terror is needing an update. Rep. Peter DeFazio has introduced the War Powers Amendment of 2017, clarifying that Trump must seek congressional authorization before sending US troops into combat.
If you’re concerned about Trump’s wandering foreign policy and the possibility of two more imminent wars without Congressional oversight, you can contact your representative or our Senators and share your thoughts about the national security and war powers bills they are forging.