ABC News reports that the illegal war already being waged in Iraq has expanded to Syria:
American airstrikes against ISIS targets are under way in Syria, according to a Pentagon official.
When Obama ordered the first airstrikes in Iraq last month, I had no confidence that he would be able to keep the intervention from expanding, and unfortunately I was correct. Loose talk of “destroying” ISIS practically demanded expanding the war into Syria. Obama stated he would not hesitate to do this. However, there is even less reason to think that U.S. air power will have the desired effect there than it will have in Iraq. It will not be lost on Sunnis in Syria and Iraq (and elsewhere) that the U.S. didn’t intervene directly in the Syrian civil war until it came time to attack a group opposed to their sectarian enemies. Even if the U.S. is not actively cooperating with the Syrian regime in all of this, it will be perceived as siding with it in the current conflict, and that will be to the detriment of American security now and in the future. For the second time this century, the U.S. is fighting a war that will benefit Iran and its regional allies and proxies, and it is doing so in a way that seems sure to trap the U.S. into open-ended fighting for many years to come.
The administration has done all of this on its own authority, and has been waging war illegally for the last six weeks. All signs indicate that the administration will continue to wage this war illegally for many months to come. The official legal justification offered by the administration for what it is doing is laughable, but not any more so than the one that the administration offered for bombing Libya. Unlike the Libyan war, however, this campaign doesn’t even have the fig leaf of Security Council authorization or the mirage of broad international support. Tellingly, none of our most capable allies is willing to participate in the Syrian portion of this illegal war. France confirmed last week that it would not be bombing ISIS targets in Syria, which means that the U.S. will be fighting the latest phase of this illegal war mostly on its own. The administration has committed the U.S. to this course without anything resembling serious debate or deliberation, and Obama has embarked on a military campaign that will consume and thoroughly discredit the remaining years of his presidency. I suspect that the public will sooner or later sour on a war that was originally sold as a brief and limited operation, and their support for an air campaign will wane as it becomes apparent that the war cannot achieve its stated goal. Even if that doesn’t happen, Obama will still be responsible for committing the U.S. to exactly the sort of unnecessary and open-ended war that he was expected to oppose.