Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Guest Post By Rep. Ro Khanna-- A Defining Moment For Democrats: Oppose Syria Strikes


-by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA)

I am disappointed that President Trump's military strikes in Syria have received bipartisan support as "measured and appropriate." Although many politicians and journalists are encouraging the President to come to Congress before taking more action, few are debating the merits of the strike itself.

Yes, Trump should have come to Congress for approval. Yes, Congress should have debated beforehand. But no, Congress should not have given the president authority to strike the Syrian government.

For starters, it was a mistake to conduct a strike unilaterally, without building a case at the U.N., or assembling a coalition. When we strike alone and send missiles with American labels into another sovereign nation, we sow the seeds for another generation to grow up with a distrust of our foreign policy. International law gives us the right to respond in self defense. No observer of history has any reason to doubt America's military resolve when attacked or threatened. But there is no justification for hasty unilateralism when our nation doesn't face a security threat.

Legality aside, the strike was ineffective. As we saw this past weekend, Assad flew planes from the same airbase we attacked and continues to bomb innocent civilians. Assad had killed nearly 400,000 civilians before the brutal sarin gas attacks, and nothing suggests that our missile strikes will deter the regime from more killing.

Not only was this strike unsuccessful, it is not in our country’s strategic interest. Every time we have attacked a country in the Middle East since 2001, terrorism has spread and we have made a bad situation worse. Have we not learned from the military campaigns in Iraq and Libya? In 2001, most of the terrorists were near the Afghan/Pakistan border. Fifteen years later they are spread across the world, including in Africa, and instability plagues the Middle East.

We risk mission creep and getting further entangled in the conflict every time Assad commits atrocities. Dropping more bombs will lead to regional instability. The invasion of Iraq and our calls for regime change since 2011 have contributed to making Syria a magnet for terrorism. The recent strikes will only beget more violence and do nothing to advance the regional cease fires that are needed for peace.

How then should we have responded to Assad's heinous use of chemical weapons? How could we have sent a message that civilized nations do not condone the use of sarin gas? We should have demanded the creation of an International Criminal Tribunal to prosecute war crimes, similar to what was done in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. We should have called for and supported more prosecution of officials of Assad's regime in nations like Germany that have universal jurisdiction. Instead of ceding the moral high ground with unilateral strikes, we should have pointed out the hypocrisy of every nation that refused to condemn Assad.

Critics of a diplomatic approach are right to be skeptical of Russian cooperation in seeking justice. But Russia cannot afford to be completely blind to the plight of Assad's victims. Russia has a large Sunni Muslim population that can fuel terrorism. Domestic politics dictate that Russia keep some distance from Assad's use of chemical weapons. We should put pressure on Russia, which always hides behind the cloak of international law, by loudly and frequently highlighting Assad's depravity in international forums and to the international press.

In sum, our response to the brutality in Syria must be diplomatic and humanitarian, not militaristic. If we truly care about the innocent babies that Assad gassed, we should increase our foreign aid budget and allow more refugees to come into our country. We should further support countries who are hosting millions of refugees.

For too long, military intervention in the Middle East has had an American face while humanitarian aid has had an international one. We need the opposite. Our first policy in the Middle East should be to do no more harm. Our second should be to seek justice for the victims through international law and, to do whatever we can, to help them build lives of dignity. That can help restore America's standing in the world as a nation that believes in the human rights of people across the world.

Ro Khanna is the progressive Democratic freshman representing CA-17, a Silicon Valley district that stretches from the East Bay cities of Fremont and Newark, down through Milpitas, Berryessa and west to Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Cupertino. His grandfather served time in prison with Mahatma Gandhi. More members of Congress should clear their minds and consider carefully what he's saying about war-- as well as what Reagan Secretary of State George Schultz said: "When I think about all the money we spent on bombs and munitions, and our failures in Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world... Instead of advancing our agenda using force, we should have instead built schools and hospitals in these countries, improving the lives of their children. By now, those children would have grown into positions of influence, and they would be grateful to us instead of hating us."

Send in the Armada!

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At 12:46 PM, Blogger Anon said...

Great statement thanks for posting, DWT.

One issue: Rep Khanna's 4th paragraph places all 400,000 deaths on Assad as opposed to, as I understand it, that # being the estimated total of casualties in Syria's civil war.

Assad/Regime didn't kill all 400k.

At 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A point? Democraps are the party of war street (that is less racist). They are not going to let the Rs become the ONLY party of war street. Billions at stake.

War street isn't going to allow more than a handful of leftist Ds become a problem. Pelosi, hoyer, scummer et al are not going to allow this to become a "thing" in the democrap party.

The general democrap response to the orange-utang's bombing has been "measured orgasmic" in support of their donors. They are also "measured orgasmic" over his new stance (today, anyway) toward Russia.

Measured, only because they still want to pretend to be against the orange-utang's admin. The more war he conducts, the better they're going to love him.

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Trumps 60 million dollar idle gesture.

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ro is 100% right on target on this issue. He and I disagree on many issues...but, we all need to fight for what is right. When he is right, he is right, and politics should not be an issue in saying so. I'm proud of Congressman Khanna today. Now, watch how the (D) party attacks him, like they are attacking Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

Ron Cohen For Congress 2018 (Republican)

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

#DonaldJCuck is #ShadowBoxing and #SwitchingHeadlines #WithBombs #FakeStreamMedia is going along with the #DeepStateKabuki ☼

At 5:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read this. It seems we have another Gulf of Tonkin, and the American people have once again bought it hook, line, and sinker. The war parties are ecstatic, and endless war continues, cheerleaders from the press and both parties unabated in their rally for using American might as enforcers of neocon and neoliberal US foreign policy.


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