Trump made a revealing comment on Syria yesterday:
“We have a lot of options, militarily,” the president said after the Cabinet meeting. “And we’ll be letting you know pretty soon — probably after the fact [bold mine-DL].”
Not only will there be no debate or vote in Congress before the president orders an illegal attack on another government, but he probably won’t bother to inform the public until after it has already happened. You couldn’t ask for a more straightforward expression of contempt for constitutional government and the consent of the governed than this. The U.S. is once again about to commit acts of war against another state on the whim of one man, and he probably isn’t even going to explain the reason for that illegal action before he takes it.
There is a real chance that U.S. strikes on the Syrian government could provoke retaliation from Russia, Iran, and Syria. Depending on how extensive the attack is, there is a decent chance that it will kill Iranian and Russian military personnel. That could potentially put the U.S. in a state of war with as many as three other states, one of which is a nuclear-armed major power. If one or more of those states chose to escalate against U.S. forces in Syria or elsewhere, there is no telling how costly this new conflict could become. Regardless, it is not up to the president to decide whether the U.S. goes to war against any of these states. I don’t think one has to be a strict constructionist or a stickler for Congress’ role in matters of war to grasp that the president has no authority to initiate hostilities against one or more foreign governments in response to an attack that took place inside another country that posed no threat to the U.S. or its allies.