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Wednesday, April 18

Growing backlash in US Congress against Trump regime's bombing of Syria

Americans elected the presidential candidate who promised to be less interventionist than 2000, 2008, 2012, and 2016. Insofar as Democratic candidates cling to the hawkish approach of their failed 2016 standard-bearer [Hillary Clinton], they are giving away votes in 2018 and setting up the U.S. for more imprudent wars. Insofar as Republicans let Trump wage war where he likes, without a direct threat to America or congressional permission, they are on the wrong side of the Constitution.
The above are the closing words in the following article, a small part of which I repost here. So. Getting tired of American presidents acting more and more like absolute monarchs, are we? It's a little late in the day to sound the alarm.  

The Backlash Against Trump's Syria Strike
By CONOR FRIEDERSDORF
April 17, 2018
The Atlantic

Members of Congress in both parties have declared his actions unconstitutional. Will Democrats campaign against their illegality?

Last week Donald Trump willfully violated the Constitution as even he once understood it, despite being warned against doing so by dozens of members of Congress.

Hours before the president ordered the U.S. military to strike three targets in Syria, 88 members of Congress sent him a letter to remind him of his legal obligations. Strikes “when no direct threat to the United States exists” and “without Congressional authorization” would violate the Constitution’s separation of powers, they declared. “We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering additional use of U.S. military force in Syria.”

That account of the law was bipartisan: The signatories included 15 Republicans and 73 Democrats, and a similar letter sent to President Obama in 2013 was signed by 119 Republicans and 21 Democrats. Surveying all the legal rationales offered in Trump’s defense, Jack Goldsmith and Oona Hathaway conclude at Lawfare, “there is no apparent domestic or international legal authority for the strikes.” And crucially, Trump himself explicitly shared their understanding of the law.

As he put it in 2013:

[Trump Twitter comments in 2013]

Today’s Republican-controlled Congress lacks a majority willing to punish Trump for his flagrantly illegal war-making. And that status quo alarms many. 

“This country now considers it perfectly normal for the president to launch a fierce assault against a foreign country 5,000 miles from our borders without any congressional involvement at all, let alone a declaration of war,” the commentator Damon Linker observed. “It’s just what presidents do, whenever they want.”

“If Congress does nothing to challenge the president’s illegal attack,” Daniel Larison warns, “they will be accepting own irrelevance in matters of war from now on.”

Yet there is a minority faction that wants to restore the Constitution.

“These offensive strikes against Syria are unconstitutional, illegal, and reckless,” Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, said. “The next speaker of the House must reclaim congressional war powers as prescribed in Article I of the Constitution. Speaker Ryan has completely abdicated one of his most important responsibilities.”

Members of the Senate have spoken up too. Prior to the strikes, Senator Rand Paul contested the notion that the president was constitutionally empowered to launch them.

And Democrats weighed in after the strikes, as well. “Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against Syria without Congress’s approval is illegal,” Senator Tim Kaine said. “We need to stop giving presidents a blank check to wage war. Today it’s Syria, but what’s going to stop him from bombing Iran or North Korea next?”

[...]

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