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Trump’s Rush to Judgment on Syria Chemical Attack

On Sunday, President Trump announced his intention [1] to make those responsible for an alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma, including the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies, pay a “big price” for their continued disregard for international law. The next day U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley declared that [2] “The United States is determined to see the monster who dropped chemical weapons on the Syrian people held to account.”

President Trump reinforced his call for action [2] on Monday, noting that the United States would not sit back in the face of the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria. “It will be met, and it will be met forcefully,” the president said, adding that those responsible for the attack will be held accountable, whether it was Syria, Russia, Iran or “all of them together.” Trump noted [3] that a decision to use military force would be made “over the next 24 to 48 hours.”

The pronouncements of imminent military action by the United States are not made in a vacuum. Russia, which has considerable military forces deployed inside Syria, including advanced military aircraft and anti-aircraft missile batteries, has rejected the allegations of chemical weapons use by Syria [4] as a “fabrication,” and promised that any attack on Syria would result in “serious repercussions.” Russian forces inside Syria have reportedly been placed on “full alert” [5] as American naval vessels capable of launching cruise missiles have arrived off the Syrian coast.

The United States and Russia appear to be heading toward a direct military confrontation that, depending on the level of force used and the number, if any, casualties incurred by either side, carries with it the risk of a broader conflict. While Russian (and Syrian) claims of innocence regarding the alleged chemical weapons attack cannot be accepted at face value, the fact that the United States has not backed up its own claims with anything other than a recitation of accusations made by rebel groups opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad is problematic insofar as it shows a rush to judgement on matters of war. Given the potentially devastating consequences of any U.S.-Russian military clash over Syria, it would be better for all parties involved to wait for a full and thorough investigation of the alleged attack before any final decision on the use of force in response is made.

There are two versions of what happened in Douma, a suburb of Damascus home to between 80,000 and 150,000 people. The one relied upon by the United States is provided by rebel forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. According to the Violations Documentation Center [6] (VDC), a non-profit organization comprised of various Syrian opposition groups funded by the Asfari Foundation [7] and George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation [8], at approximately 12 p.m. the Syrian Air Force attacked the vicinity of the Saada Bakery [9] using munitions believed to contain “poisonous gas.” The VDC cited eyewitness accounts from members of the Syrian Civil Defense, or “White Helmets,” [10] who described the smell of chlorine and the presence of numerous bodies assessed to have succumbed from gas sourced to a Syrian “rocket.” Later, at 7 p.m., a second air strike struck an area near Martyr’s Square, again using munitions assessed by eyewitnesses to contain “poisonous gas.” Doctors from the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) [11] described symptoms that indicated that a nerve agent had been used. Images of victims in the locations allegedly attacked were released by a rebel-affiliated social media entity known as the “Douma Revolution” [12] and the “White Helmets.”    

Douma is part of a larger district known as Eastern Ghouta which has, since 2012, been under the control of various militant organizations opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In early February 2018, the Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, began operations to recapture the Eastern Ghouta district. The joint Syrian-Russian offensive was as brutal as it was effective—by March, Eastern Ghouta had been split into three pockets of resistance at a cost of more than 1,600 civilian dead. Two of the pockets capitulated under terms which had the opposition fighters and their families evacuated to rebel-held territory in the northern Syrian province of Idlib. Only Douma held out, where Salafist fighters from the “Army of Islam” (Jaish al-Islam) refused to surrender. On April 5, the situation had deteriorated inside Douma to the point that the rebel defenders had agreed to negotiations that would lead to their evacuation of Douma; the very next day, however, these discussions had broken down, and the Syrian military resumed its offensive. The air attacks described by the VDC occurred on the second day of the resumption of hostilities.

There is a competing narrative [13], however, provided by the Russian government and those sympathetic to its position. After the breakdown of negotiations between the Douma rebels and the Russian government on April 6, the story goes, the Syrian government offensive to liberate Douma resumed. The Douma rebels, faced with imminent defeat, fabricated the allegations of a chemical attack. Russia had warned of such a provocation [14] back in March 2018, claiming the rebels were working in coordination with the United States to create the conditions for a massive American air attack against Syrian government infrastructure.

Shortly after the Syrian government resumed its offensive against Douma (and after the opposition forces publicized their allegations of Syrian government chemical weapons attacks), the rebel resistance inside Douma collapsed, with the fighters agreeing to be evacuated to Idlib. The Russian military was able to dispatch units [15] to the sites of the alleged chemical weapons attacks and conduct a survey. According to the state-run Russian news, no evidence of a chemical weapons attack was discovered. Representatives of the Syrian Red Crescent [16] who claim to have worked in Douma stated that they have seen no evidence of any chemical weapons use there, either.

change_me

Beyond providing a competing narrative, however, Russia has offered to open up Douma [17] to inspectors from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons [18], or OPCW, for a full investigation. This offer was echoed by the Syrian government [19], which extended an official invitation for the OPCW to come to Douma. On April 10, the OPCW announced [20] that it would be dispatching an inspection team “shortly” to carry out this work. The forensic technical investigatory capabilities of an OPCW inspection team are such that it would be able to detect the presence of any chemical agent used in Douma. While the investigation itself would take days to conduct and weeks to process, its conclusions would, under these circumstances, be conclusive as to the presence of any prohibited substance.

One major drawback to any OPCW investigation is its inability to assess responsibility for the presence of any banned substances detected. In prior investigations inside Syria, the OPCW was able to operate as part of the United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) [21], an entity specifically empowered by Security Council resolution to make such determinations. The mandate of the JIM was not extended [22], however, after Russia expressed its displeasure over what it deemed to be the inaccurate and politicized findings regarding previous allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government. The United States has submitted a resolution to the Security Council demanding that a new investigatory body be formed that would be able to provide attribution for any chemical weapons attack inside Syria; whether Russia would veto such a resolution or allow it to be passed has yet to be seen.

The bottom line, however, is that the United States is threatening to go to war in Syria over allegations of chemical weapons usage for which no factual evidence has been provided. This act is occurring even as the possibility remains that verifiable forensic investigations would, at a minimum, confirm the presence of chemical weapons (thereby contradicting the Russian claims that no such evidence was detected by its troops), and if the Security Council passes a resolution allowing for a properly mandated investigation team, actual attribution could be assigned.

Moreover, President Trump’s rush to judgment on Syrian guilt is being done in a highly politicized environment, coming as it does on the heels of an FBI raid on the offices of the president’s personal attorney [23]. In times such as this, a president is often attracted by the prospect of “looking presidential” in order to offset personal problems (one only need to look at President Clinton’s decision in August 1998 [24], at the height of the Lewinsky scandal, to launch cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan.)

If America is to place its military in harm’s way, it needs to be in support of a cause worthy of the sacrifice being asked of those who serve. Giving the OPCW time to carry out its investigation in Syria would allow a fact-based case to be made whether military force was justified or not, as well as support a determination of whether or not the risks associated with the use of force were warranted. Pulling the trigger void of such information, especially when Trump is distracted by personal political issues, is not something the American people, nor their representatives in Congress, should tolerate.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of Deal of the Century: How Iran Blocked the West’s Road to War [25].

32 Comments (Open | Close)

32 Comments To "Trump’s Rush to Judgment on Syria Chemical Attack"

#1 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On April 10, 2018 @ 11:43 pm

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The US has enjoyed absolute power since the fall of the USSR in the 90’s. Sadly it is now absolutely corrupt. The only good news is that we are totally bankrupt so this state of affairs will not go on much longer.

#2 Comment By Procivic On April 11, 2018 @ 1:07 am

The sensible approach prposed by the writer will likely be wasted in the current chaotic climate that grips Washington.

#3 Comment By DefinitelyARussianBot On April 11, 2018 @ 1:09 am

I believe President Trump is smarter than we give him credit for.

A response was promised by end of Monday, it’s now Tues evening where I’m at.

What’s on the MSM? The raid at Michael Cohen’s office. Violation of Constitutional rights.

Let it be buried until someone brings it up again.

#4 Comment By Mark Thomason On April 11, 2018 @ 2:00 am

We were led into this mistake before, in Iraq.

We let them get away with that. Now they are still there in power, and about to do it to us again.

Why did we let them get away with it? Because both parties were complicit, and the power centers of each were deeply involved, as for example Hillary. Our pundits and other opinion-makers were just as completely complicit, and the ones most wrong have remained prominent, while the ones who got it right have been ignored since.

Now we pay the price for letting them all get away with it before.

#5 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 11, 2018 @ 2:57 am

Much to the credit of men and women such as agent Ritter, who grasp the stakes involved, and are repeatedly willing to wait for evidence before making dire judgments, prudence provides opportunities to avoid what many in leadership and the press demand as inevitable.

Appreciate the information as well as the prudence.

Another convenient chemical weapons attack —

#6 Comment By Dr. Brian Everill On April 11, 2018 @ 5:16 am

The only time the US is interested in international law is when they believe it will serve their purpose, much like their view of ‘truth’?! Have they forgotten they mass murdered 1,000,000 innocent Iraqi men, women, and children, in an illegal war, executed on a pre-constructed lie, so that they could loot and steal another sovereign nation’s resources? What a bunch of bigoted hypocrites, maybe we should call it the ‘United States of Hypocrisy’ from now on?

#7 Comment By Mark in BC On April 11, 2018 @ 6:02 am

And when all the “stuff” hits the fan and today’s supporters are heading for the tall grass yelling that “everyone knew” Syria/Russia/Iran did it, will anyone remember that there were those like Scott Ritter that questioned the narrative?

Just like Iraq…only this one might just be the one that brings down the American Empire. Its demise will be an orphan.

#8 Comment By Dr. Brian Everill On April 11, 2018 @ 6:02 am

The only time the US is interested in international law is when they believe it will serve their purpose, much like their view of ‘truth’?! Have they forgotten they mass murdered 1,000,000 innocent Iraqi men, women, and children, in an illegal war, executed on a pre-constructed lie, so that they could loot and steal another sovereign nation’s resources? What a bunch of bigoted hypocrites, maybe we should call it the ‘United States of Hypocrisy’ from now on? Lol… the truth hurts, doesn’t it?

#9 Comment By maximillian On April 11, 2018 @ 7:58 am

Trump will start a war, to deflect attention from his political and legal problems, asociated with his second rate crime family’s illegal activities.

#10 Comment By Jon Cloke On April 11, 2018 @ 8:26 am

Be careful there, Scott – you’re beginning to sound like Jeremy Corbyn with your ‘reasoning and logic’, and we all know what a bully/communist/traitor/antisemite/misogynist/czech spy (strike out accusations which don’t apply to this particular piece – editor) he is/isn’t!!

#11 Comment By TGGeko On April 11, 2018 @ 8:58 am

Wow, George Soros pops up in the most unlikely of places.

#12 Comment By Gene On April 11, 2018 @ 9:15 am

Scott Ritter is not to be trusted. He lied about Saddam.

#13 Comment By Michael Kenny On April 11, 2018 @ 10:17 am

The amusing thing is that if the attack was fake, it would point the accusing finger straight at Putin! It would be very easy for the Russians to set up a fake attack, using civilians, whether willing or coerced, to play the role of victims for the TV cameras. Since they had set up the scam in the first place, it would be very easy for them to prove conclusively that the attack never took place. The Russians themselves have claimed a fake attack was imminent, which could plausibly mean that they knew that because they themselves were planning to set up the attack. The point of such an attack is clear. They plant a fake story in the media and once it’s been swallowed, they prove it false, thereby discrediting those who swallowed the fake news, who just happen to be the very same people who accuse Russia of being responsible for the Skripal attack. Thus, Putin is the principal beneficiary of a fake attack and therefore the most likely culprit. In addition, a fake chemical attack would be a tacit admission of Russian guilt in the Skripal poisoning. Logically, if Russia had no part in the poisoning, all Putin has to do is sit back and wait for the scientific evidence to prove that. It all sounds so like the lack of political savvy and flat-footed blundering so characteristic of Putin.

#14 Comment By Sid Finster On April 11, 2018 @ 10:32 am

Trump is weak and easily manipulated, and therefore no matter what he does, the outcome will be war.

To copy-paste something I wrote elsewhere:

If Trump backs down now, his critics will scream “Putin puppet” until he complies.

If Trump attacks and obtains anything less than regime change, his critics will scream “Putin puppet!” until he complies.

If Trump attacks and American forces get a bloody nose, his critics will scream “Putin puppet!” until he escalates.

If Trump attacks and obtains regime change, his new found neocon friends will be satisfied with nothing less than regime change in Russia. They already pledged the destruction of Russia and who knows what they will do when drunk on victory.

Besides, we all remember how Bush ’41 fell from power quickly, because he “didn’t finish the job”. Anything less and his critics will scream…

This will go nuclear in a hurry.

#15 Comment By vpurto On April 11, 2018 @ 12:00 pm

@Mark in BC,
I agree with your statement that attack on Syria “brings down the American Empire. Its demise will be an orphan”. However, I would interpret your phrase in the positive sense for demise of parents of the American Empire will be welcome for overwhelming majority of humankind and first of all by American people.

#16 Comment By Beth R On April 11, 2018 @ 12:10 pm

I’m for the Russians here. Does that sound strange? Not when one considers what Americans have done to the Middle East at the behest of its parasite, Israel. It must not be allowed to happen again. Thank you for exhibiting uncommon common sense, Scott.

#17 Comment By JK On April 11, 2018 @ 12:27 pm

@DefinitelyARussianBot:
“I believe President Trump is smarter than we give him credit for…. etc”

You’re conveniently forgetting that there was no pressure on Trump to act hastily. He woke up the morning of the so-called “gas attack”, watched a Fox News segment on it, and proceeded to blurt out shrill emotional responses on Twitter in which he painted himself into a corner. He did all this ignoring the obvious possibility that what he’s watching is – as he like to call it – “fake news”.

#18 Comment By Arnieus On April 11, 2018 @ 12:47 pm

Scott, You are one veteran that I sincerely thank for your service. I remember your tireless efforts to avoid the 2003 invasion of Iraq. One interview in particular with the imbecile Paula Zann. I am old and have been clueless most of my life but that interview was like a light coming on.

#19 Comment By Cyric London On April 11, 2018 @ 12:54 pm

Very thoughtful and articulate article. I wish Scott was the president and not the buffoon that we have occupying the office.

#20 Comment By Some Wag On April 11, 2018 @ 1:24 pm

Trump’s in as much danger of pushing to war in Syria as Lilliput. Related: Wrestlemania was quite a show this year.

#21 Comment By Chris Whiteside On April 11, 2018 @ 2:51 pm

Ok, I don’t think many people will argue with the principle that “We need hard evidence” but who seems to be trying to get it? Both the US and Russia put down motions at the security council calling for an investigation. Russia did indeed veto the US motion for an independent investigation.

There were not enough votes to pass a Russian motion calling for an investigation which would have given Russia power to block publication of the results and didn’t resolve the problem that that the investigation wouldn’t be able try to establish who actually did it. Not actually surprising that nobody voted for that.

While Russia appears to be playing games at the UN security council it is not entirely surprising that others have concluded that they have no real interest in the truth and are simply trying to muddy the waters to protect Assad.

#22 Comment By b. On April 11, 2018 @ 3:25 pm

A few footnotes:

We have seen this unseemly rush before – “we cannot wait for the inspections to finish/we cannot risk inspectors becoming hostages”.

Per this article:
[26]

“Jaish al-Islam [..] agreed to release hundreds of civilian captives, many of them from Syria’s minority Alawite sect, who had been held prisoner for years.”

The indiscriminate use by Assad force of chemical weapons would imply that Assad was willing to risk those possible “human shields” or hostages getting directly or indirectly hurt by those weapons as well, or killed in retaliation.

It is a telling and deeply disturbing state of affairs that we have to seriously consider that a Russian or esp. Syrian government might actually be more truthful than the US government, given the precedent of Iraq, and US government before and since.

If Assad’s forces did indeed use chemical weapons, we have to ask ourselves why? Obviously, the risk is substantial. Why would Assad provide a pretext for US “regime change related activities”? Is Assad in control of his own forces, or not? How much leverage does Putin have with Assad? How much leverage does Iran have? If Assad is a fool, or insane, do we assume that he is out of control, or do we assume that Iran and Russia agreed to this? If so, what would they attempt to accomplish?

Why would Assad use chemical weapons in Douma when all that stood between him and success was the internal strife of Jaish al-Islam and the difficulties in finding any territory controlled by somebody willing to offer Jaish al-Islam refuge? Why take the risk? It is not like he appears to be losing at this time.

If this was a premeditated act, why now, and why would Syria and its allies be willing to take this risk? Is provocation the actual objective here, or are all parties to this “uncivil war” a bunch of blundering fools as negligent and reckless of human lives as the US?

We live in a world in which it is apparently no longer possible to have a trustworthy chain of custody and a trustworthy attribution for crimes such as the use of chemical weapons in urban warfare. We see this with attacks like Stuxnet, with accusations of Russian hacking and/or leaking, and with other “measures short of war”. There is a recurring theme in drone warfare, information warfare, attacks on computer warfare, and “covert” operations – plausible deniability is becoming plausible suspectability. We are entering an age of unattributable acts of aggression at the same time that the “great powers”, with the USA in the lead”, erode and demolish the international order, and in which two nuclear powers have initiated a nuclear arms race which threatens to drag the third, China, with it. This erosion of norms and disrespect for international law sets unattributable acts of aggression up as ever-present pretexts for further acts of aggression, which could escalate to that one existential threat that nobody appears to worry about anymore – all-out nuclear war between the two leading arsenals of folly.

The US could take a principled stand and invoke UN 377 to call an emergency session of the UN General Assembly to request that the Russian veto for UN investigations with the goal of attribution of any possible use of chemical weapons be set aside. The US would have to commit to not acting unilaterally, in violation of the UN Charter, unless and until the findings of the investigation had been considered by the General Assembly, and a resolution passed to call for, and authorize, any actions.

Quite frankly, those actions should take the form of humanitarian aid, not more munitions. But if Trump wants his bombs, that is the legal way that is open to him, Macron, and May. Everything else is another crime of indiscriminate use of force committed under the pretense to rectify another crime of the same kind.

#23 Comment By Iron Felix On April 11, 2018 @ 4:19 pm

This thing is so blatantly transparent that children would see through it. You are asked to believe that the Assad government, which has the war virtually wrapped up, would invite destruction down on its head for no good reason. On the other hand, it is clear that the enemies of the government have a propaganda coup. Cui bono?

#24 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On April 11, 2018 @ 4:45 pm

Wow, talk about confirming my instincts. As I was eating dinner last night and watching PBS Newshour I was trying to think strategically about Syria and the blame-Russia hysterics. If the U.S. struck Syria’s heart, what NATO base might Russia promptly blow up? I asked myself whether Russia might attack an Israeli military base in retaliation, on the admittedly shaky theory that Syria is to Russia what Israel is to the U.S., but I decided the Russians wouldn’t escalate that madly. But NATO sites in Poland? Mere tit-for-tat. The U.S would be inviting annihilation in then upping the ante.

Strategic logic says Trump’s hands are tied here–not completely, but to a great extent. Let’s hope he resists the hawkish advice he’s receiving.

#25 Comment By Stephen J. On April 11, 2018 @ 5:08 pm

You won’t see this article in warmongering corporate media. See link below.
————————–

Two ex-British ambassadors question claims that Assad ordered chemical attack as threat of war grows

Published time: 11 Apr, 2018 13:06

[27]

#26 Comment By D On April 11, 2018 @ 7:30 pm

I’d prefer that we launch our missiles at Riyadh.

#27 Comment By EarlyBird On April 11, 2018 @ 8:07 pm

This is all pretense and pretext for a strike against Iran, at the behest of our Directorate of Middle East Foreign Policy, Israel.

Let’s not for a second imagine Trump has an idea of what he wants to do strategically, tactically, etc. He has no long term goals of any kind. His one and only goal is constant self-aggrandizement. He’s that simple.

And the neocons, Israel-firsters and other hawks who he’s surrounded with are whispering into his ear about how manly it would be to go to war in the Middle East, but this time “win!”

God help us all.

#28 Comment By Les Govment On April 12, 2018 @ 1:21 am

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” –Donald J Trump 5:57 am, Apr 11, 2018

It is primarily because of registered Republican voters that Donald Trump is tweeting from the White House. Of course, I’m NOT blaming those who didn’t vote for Trump in the GOP primaries and caucuses. And I don’t blame anyone for voting for Trump instead of Hillary in the general election (I was NeverHillary). But it’s time for registered Republicans to come to grips with the importance of character, morality, and the Constitution.

Let’s revisit 2016. Republican voters had 748 candidates to choose from in the 2016 GOP primaries (okay, it was actually only about 17 candidates). The vast majority of those candidates should’ve been laughed-out-of-town because they were truly unelectable. Most of the other candidates should’ve been rejected early in the 2016 campaign. Jeb Bush should’ve been rejected instantly because of his ridiculous support for nation building. Rubio should’ve been rejected for his police-the-world foreign policy and for voting for the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) containing the indefinite detention of American citizens provision. Kasich should’ve been rejected for being way too supportive of government hand-out programs. Carly Fiorina would’ve been better than Hillary, but that’s not enough.

That leaves Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul; all were credibly anti-establishment candidates.

Trump should’ve been rejected because he never expressed any real commitment to upholding the Constitution, wasn’t a morally-principled person, and was sure to muddy the image of the GOP and conservative voters with his absurd declaration that most Mexican illegals were criminals.

That leaves Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. I like Cruz because he takes the Constitution seriously– he voted against the NDAA. I feel like Cruz is overly supportive of Israel, though.

All of the things I’ve pointed out in this post should’ve resulted in Rand Paul winning the GOP nomination in 2016. He made it clear he would never start a war single-handedly (he adamantly insists that only Congress has the constitutional authority to start a war). He supported balancing the budget (and still does). He was/is for shrinking the size of government. He opposed Obamacare. He’s pro-life.

What more could you possibly want in a president, conservatives? Please don’t tell me Rand Paul was unelectable. Many of you supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 primaries. How did that work out in the general election?

Trump has accomplished basically three good things as president: tax reform, deregulation, and Neil Gorsuch. It’s looking like those might be the only good things we get from Trump. He has bad people advising him on foreign policy, and if Trump adopts their world view, it will derail his presidency.

There’s no moral justification for an attack on Syria. If Trump follows through on his tweet above, he will have earned a front-row seat in Hell, right next to George W Bush, Barack H Obama, and the hawkish Neo-cons.

We need to get out of the Middle East. Let the bad actors over there kill each other off.

Les Govment [28]

See Tucker Carlson’s take on the Syrian situation here:

[29]
.

#29 Comment By masterly inaction On April 12, 2018 @ 7:52 am

I have no idea what Trump will or won’t do in Syria, but I hope he settles on “won’t”. I hope he understands that outside the DC bubble hardly anyone wants or expects him to “show resolve”. To the extent that they know what’s going on after all the media hysterics, which likely isn’t much, most Americans couldn’t care less.

You don’t have to “do something”, Mr. Trump, so try keeping a campaign promise for a change, and don’t.

#30 Comment By Ryan W On April 12, 2018 @ 9:47 am

I’m guardedly optimistic that this crisis can be contained. The more time passes, the more likely it is that the response will likely be a few missiles and no follow-up, like happened last time. As long as the damage is minor, I think there’s a fairly good chance of the Russians not retaliating. I think it’s too late in the game to hope that this will completely blow over, but I think the damage can still be contained. Unfortunately, no guarantees though.

#31 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 12, 2018 @ 5:16 pm

I doubt there’s anything to show resolve about. I think a chemical weapons attack is as yet unverified save by interested parties.

#32 Comment By Bridger On April 12, 2018 @ 8:01 pm

What’s missing from the discussion is that Trump can’t launch an attack without Congressional approval since attack from Syria isn’t imminent. He hasn’t even sought it and this should be grounds for impeachment.

Conservatives were all up in arms when Obama threatened this back in 2013 but are now quietly acceding to Trump’s rush to judgement and unilateralism.