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Trump May Launch Another Illegal Attack on Syria

Two Air Force F-22 Raptors fly over Syria, Feb. 2, 2018, while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott

Trump is considering another illegal attack on the Syrian government:

The Trump administration has considered new military action against the Syrian government in response to reports of ongoing chemical weapons use, officials said, raising the prospect of a second U.S. strike on President Bashar al-Assad in less than a year.

Trump had no authority to order the attack on Syrian forces last year, and he still doesn’t have it now. There is no international mandate for U.S. forces to be in Syria, nor is there any authorization for military action against Syrian government forces or their allies. If Trump orders another illegal attack, the U.S. will be committing more acts of war against a government that poses no threat to us, has done nothing to us or our treaty allies, and is still fighting inside its own internationally recognized borders. The Syrian government’s tactics are deplorable, but by themselves they do not give the U.S. the right or authority to take up arms against them. It is not possible to maintain an international norm while violating the most basic prohibitions of international law.

Following the clash with pro-regime mercenaries last month, our continued illegal military presence is more dangerous than ever, and launching another attack on the Syrian government could put U.S. forces in greater jeopardy. There continues to be a risk of escalation that could drag the U.S. into a larger conflict. The U.S. should be withdrawing all of its forces from Syria instead of looking for new excuses to initiate hostilities against another government.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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