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Trump Orders Attack on Syria’s Government

Tomahawk Missile Launch. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman

The attack on the Syrian government has begun:

On President Donald Trump’s orders, US warships launched 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The strikes are the first direct military action the US has taken against the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s six-year civil war and represent a substantial escalation of the US’ military campaign in the region, which could be interpreted by the Syrian government as an act of war [bold mine-DL].

Obviously, launching dozens of missiles at the armed forces of another country is an act of war, so it would be odd if the government targeted by that attack would consider it to be anything else. There is no legal basis for what Trump has done, and he has no authority to initiate hostilities against Syria’s government. If we actually cared about constitutional government in this country, he would be called to account for this, but we all know he won’t be.

Trump’s decision is the worst sort of hasty, unthinking, reflexive “do somethingism,” and we can only hope that it doesn’t have the dangerous consequences that it is likely to have. The remarkable thing about this action is that there is no pretense that it has anything to do with U.S. security or protecting American interests. It is an example of Trump’s willingness to use military force just to show that he can. This attack won’t fix anything in Syria, and in all likelihood it will make things worse if more bombing follows.

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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