Sunday, April 9, 2017

The legality and morality of the Shayrat Airbase attack

These gentlemen knew what they were doing.
(Wikipedia/Junius Brutus Stearns)
In the previous post, I talked about how the Trump administration's airstrike on the Shayrat Airbase in Syria was wasteful and ineffectual. I withheld, or tried to at least, my own opinions on the matter. First off is the legally of the strike itself. The President of the United States has the authority to order a military strike as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. I believe they have to inform Congress prior to the attack, which the White House did. So on that front, the airstrike was legal. However, I still have problems with it. It's my own personal belief that unless there is an immediate danger to the United States or one of our formal allies, the President should not launch a military attack such as the one on the Shayrat Airbase without Congressional approval. Seeing as how the Syrians lack the capability to launch an attack on the United States and Bashar al-Assad is not fool enough to launch such an attack on the U.S. or any of our allies (like say, Israel or Turkey), then there was no reason for President Donald Trump to order the attack without seeking approval from the Congress. There are those who can and will undoubtedly make the argument that waiting for approval would have both tipped our hand to the Syrians and taken what they would see as an exceedingly long time as members of Congress debated and dragged their heels over the matter.

There's two problems with that argument: 1. The Syrians already knew about the attack before it happened. Like I pointed out in the previous post, their Air Force had the base back up and running hours after the attack. They knew because the White House had to inform the Russians, who then warned the Syrians. 2. Debating and the dragging of heels is exactly what Congress should be doing if the President were to ask for their approval for a non-essential attack on another country. Congress is not meant to be a rubber stamp legislature and one of the best services they can provide to this great country of ours is to reign in the excesses of the Executive Branch. It's called Checks and Balances and the Founding Fathers put them there for a reason.

Moving on to my second point, is the morality of the airstrike. Or rather, the immorality. The supposed justification for the airstrike was the poison gas attack the Syrian Air Force launched on a town called Khan Shaykhun. If the motivation was really to avenge the casualties and prevent further chemical attacks, then why just a single attack on one airbase? Why not cripple the entire Syrian Air Force? Because that wasn't the point of the attack. As I said before, this attack on Shayrat Airbase was little more than an attempt at diverting the attention of the media and American public away from the seemingly endless scandals that have awashed President Trump and his administration since taking office. To invoke the 70+ victims of that tragedy to justify a diversionary tactic is a heinous vulgarity and Donald Trump and the rest of his administration ought to be ashamed of themselves for it.

But to be clear, I'm not playing the apologist for the Assad regime. What they did at Khan Shaykhun and elsewhere for the past five years is a far grosser vulgarity and I would love nothing more for the civil war there to end and Bashar Assad and his cronies to stand trial for all of the crimes against the Syrian people that they've committed.

No comments:

Post a Comment