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Trump Prepares to Launch His Illegal Attack on Syria

U.S. military action against Syria may happen in the next few days:

President Trump vowed Monday that the United States would take swift action in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria, amid hurried diplomacy that signaled allied military strikes may be imminent.

The president will very likely order an illegal attack on another government in the coming days. Trump has no authority to order an attack on the Syrian government, which has not attacked the U.S. and doesn’t pose any threat to America or its allies. There is no international mandate for military action against Syria, and there is no vital American interest at stake that might conceivably justify an attack. That said, in the absence of concerted resistance from Congress and the public, he will be able to get away with this illegal attack just as he got away with the illegal attack he ordered last year.

For all of the ceaseless clamor about Trump’s incipient authoritarianism, few of his domestic opponents care when he illegally uses military force overseas. When Trump tramples on the Constitution to wage illegal war, he is confirming the practice of his recent predecessors rather than breaking with it. Most of his domestic opponents don’t care about executive overreach and illegal warfare, and they are more likely than not to applaud him for ordering an attack.

The president incredibly suggested that attack on Syria had something to do with humanitarian concerns:

“We are very concerned when a thing like that can happen,” the president said in a somber tone. “This is about humanity. We’re talking about humanity. And it can’t be allowed to happen.”

The same president who enables war crimes and famine in Yemen has no business talking about humanity or opposing atrocities. It is not just that the Trump administration applies two radically different standards for how it responds to the atrocities committed by other governments, but also that it is actively involved in facilitating the atrocities of its clients while pretending to be horrified by the war crimes of others. Unfortunately, the U.S.-backed war on Yemen will receive even less attention than it already does because of the focus on a possible U.S. attack on Syria, and the one war that the U.S. has the influence to stop with relative ease will continue while our government needlessly escalates its involvement in another war.

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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