Should U.S. Ground Forces Be Fighting In The Battle For Raqqa-- Without Congressional Approval?
|Raqqa-- a day in the life|
McCain, who loves the idea of escalating in Syria, is worried that Trumpy will blow it and that it will turn into an even bigger catastrophe. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, McCain said that "unless something changes, I foresee a train wreck here, and I’m not sure that the administration recognizes how seriously, particularly, President Erdogan views the threat that the Kurds pose... and I’m not sure we appreciate the role that Turkey plays in our effort to retake Raqqa, particularly in the use of Incirlik and other activities that require Turkish cooperation."
But there's an even bigger question here. When Obama wanted to escalate in Syria-- again, without consulting Congress (as the Constitutions insists a president must) there was an uproar in Congress-- on both sides of the aisle and he eventually stood down. This time, there have been some Democrats speaking out but not much is being heard from the other side of the aisle.
Back in 2015, Ted Lieu was one of the first Members of Congress to react to President Obama's announcement that he would start sending ground forces into Syria (in the midst of a multi-sided civil war and without an invitation from the country's government). Lieu told us that he "opposes the introduction of U.S. ground troops into Syria. I have also repeatedly called for the U.S. to end airstrikes in Syria. The Administration has not put forward a comprehensive strategy for Syria. The U.S. should use our limited resources to address the worst refugee crisis in a generation rather than risk American lives and waste taxpayer funds by intervening in a complicated civil war halfway around the world."
In regard to this, it doesn't matter to him that Obama is out of the White House and Trumpy-the-Clown is in. Bear in mind, Ted is a full colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. "The deployment of conventional U.S. ground troops to fight in Syria," he announced yesterday, "is a highly disturbing escalation of our military entanglement in a faraway country. While President Trump says stuff that makes you think he may be isolationist, his actions in Syria resemble those of a war monger. Putting our nation’s men and women in harm’s way to help assault a city in a faraway place is mission creep. It is also violates the current Authorization for Use of Military Force. When Congress passed the post-9/11 AUMF to fight Al Qaeda terrorists, it never had the intention of authorizing ground forces to help take over a city in the middle of Syria's civil war in 2017. Today’s news also underscores the troubling fact that the President has yet to articulate a strategy or endgame for Syria. Americans are left wondering how long our service members will be deployed in a conflict zone, what will happen if they come into conflict with Russian forces operating in the region, what our Administration plans to do with Raqqa after retaking the city, and how this all fits in with our national interests. The President owes it to the American people to speak to these questions. As a veteran and a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I will continue to demand answers."
Maybe I missed his reaction to Trump but I did look when I remembered posting this tweet from Michigan Republican Justin Amash in 2015:
Meanwhile the Congressional Progressive Caucus issued a strong warning to Trump that he's making a big mistake with the deployment. CPC co-chair Raúl Grijalva called it "reckless [and] a step towards yet another full-fledged ground war. We do not have a strategy to liberate the Syrian people from ISIS or from Assad. It is irresponsible for this administration to send our troops into conflict that is so convoluted that we don’t know who we’re supporting, or what their objectives actually are. We already have 500 troops in Syria that President Obama deployed, and that’s 500 too many. Donald Trump is doing exactly what he does best with regards to Syria-- he’s taking a bad situation and making it much, much worse."
Barbara Lee is the CPC's Peace and Security Taskforce Chair and she added that "For fifteen years, the U.S. has been engaged in an ever-expanding war in the Middle East. President Trump's deployment of ground troops in Syria is the latest front in the endless war. In 2001, I was the lone member of Congress to vote against handing President Bush a blank check for war. More than fifteen years later, this Authorization for the Use of Military Force is still being used to justify military actions around the globe, including this new deployment into Syria. I strongly object to the White House's decision to unilaterally place U.S. boots on the ground in Syria without a Congressional debate, vote, or specific authorization. President Trump's action today shows the consequences of allowing military escalation to persist without Congressional oversight. We simply cannot allow this blank check to remain on the books.”
I just spoke to the newest candidate Blue America has endorsed for a House seat, Illinois progressive icon, David Gill, who plans to beat ineffective Republican backbencher Rodney Davis in 2018. I wasn't surprised to hear him say that Trump had made "a grave mistake by sending ground troops into Syria, a powder keg... without asking for support from Congress." I'd like to hear from some Republicans on this too but... not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse-- other than something like what Adam Kinzinger tweeted: "Godspeed to our fierce Marines & Army Rangers in #Raqqa. Praying for your safe return. In the meantime, give 'em hell out there."