Thursday, April 6, 2017
WASHINGTON — Win Without War Director Stephen Miles released the following statement in response to the recent chemical weapons attack in northern Syria and reports that President Trump is considering military action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad:
We share in the international horror and condemnation of the chemical weapons attack in northern Syria. The tragic images out of Syria are just the latest reminder in humanity’s collective failure to end Syria’s brutal and deadly civil war.
We strongly support the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) investigation into this attack and call on all parties to the conflict to support immediate and unfettered access of investigators to the scene of the attack.
While we await the full findings of the OPCW, it is sadly not surprising that signs point towards the culpability of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. In a war marked by brutality and war crimes by multiple actors, there is no denying that the Assad regime is responsible for egregious crimes against humanity and should be held to account for its brutality.
Yet, we reject the false choice that says “accountability” can only be found at the tip of an American bomb. Bashar al-Assad has murdered scores of his own people and the United States should be leading the international community in establishing an international tribunal to hold him – and all perpetrators of war crimes in Syria – accountable for their actions.
But what America should not do is pour even more gasoline on the raging fires of war in Syria. Donald Trump is reportedly preparing a military intervention against Assad’s forces which could be launched in the very near future. Such an action would be illegal under both U.S. and international law given the lack of congressional authorization or international mandate.
If President Trump believes military force against the Syrian government is necessary, he must immediately put the question before Congress, which has the sole authority under the Constitution to approve or reject such action.
Beyond the complete lack of authorization, launching another American war in the Middle East without an exit plan or accompanying political, economic and diplomatic strategy is a recipe for a disaster and quagmire beyond even George W. Bush’s misguided invasion of Iraq. President Trump has presented no long term plan for his intervention in Syria and has no answer to any of the myriad of inevitable questions that arise from such military action:
- What are the goals of military action against the Assad regime and how will the U.S. respond if those goals are not met by the initial military action?
- How would U.S. bombs help end the ongoing civil war?
- What will the U.S. do if American military forces are resisted by Russian forces who operate in the same contested airspace over Syria?
- Is the goal regime change? If not, how will Trump then work to end the war and prevent further atrocities in Syria by the Assad regime? If the goal is regime change, what happens the day after Assad is removed from power?
- How will President Trump avoid the disasters of Iraq and Libya, the years of deadly conflict that continue to destabilize those countries today?
- How will the U.S. ensure this intervention does not aid extremist militants associated with al Qaeda and ISIS who are amongst the strongest anti-Assad forces in Syria currently?
- How will U.S. bombs alleviate the ongoing human suffering in Syria or help the millions of refugees created by the civil war? How will an intervention not simply make the war worse?
Further, if President Trump wants to help the victims of this tragic war, he could easily reverse his plans to significantly cut federal funding that goes towards alleviating the humanitarian crisis. And if he really believes that the deaths of small children in Syria is an “affront to humanity,” he would immediately rescind his executive order blocking those same children from finding safety from the ravages of war by coming to the United States.
Like almost every action taken by this President, his reported plans for going to war in Syria are reckless, shortsighted, and dangerous.