What You Can Do to Stop Escalating U.S. War in Syria
The abhorrent chemical weapons attack in Syria in early April was an act of reprehensible violence against civilians, deserving of the strongest condemnation by the U.S. and the international community.
The attack is another tragic reminder of the ongoing horror of the Syrian war, which has killed nearly half a million people and displaced millions more over these 6 years of carnage.
The perpetrators of this attack must be held accountable. And the Assad regime must be held brought to justice for all of its atrocities. However, President Trump’s unlawful attack on a Syrian air base, without congressional authorization, does not hold the Assad regime accountable, it does not prevent the Assad regime from using chemical weapons, and it risks further escalating the bloodshed and destabilizing the region.
Yesterday, Trump said “we’re not going into Syria.” But that’s misleading because the U.S. has been bombing Syria for years. The Obama administration started in 2014 in its war against ISIS. The U.S. has dropped more than 7,500 bombs on Syria in those last 2.5 years, which averages out to more than 8 U.S. bombs per day. And as we speak, the U.S. has nearly 1,000 troops in Syria, with the Trump administration planning to send 1,000 more. Beyond bombs and troops, the U.S. has also provided weapons and funding for armed opposition groups, which have committed grave human rights abuses.
Years of U.S. military intervention have only fueled more violence in Syria, and throughout the region.
Years of U.S. military intervention have only fueled more violence in Syria, and throughout the region. Trump’s launch of 59 missiles into Syria does mark a new escalation because it was the first time the U.S. has directly and intentionally struck Syrian government assets, and in direct violation of international law. The attack risks further emboldening the Syrian government in its slaughter of Syrian civilians since now they can exploit the reality that they were attacked in violation of international law. It’s also already escalated tensions with Russia, which risks making it all the more difficult to get Russia to use its influence on the Assad regime to stop the killing.
Clearly, there are no easy answers on Syria. But what we do know is that ultimately only a comprehensive diplomatic solution can stop the horrific bloodshed. We know that the U.S. can play a constructive role by using its influence on Russia to use its leverage with the Assad regime to end the killing, as demonstrated by the 2013 chemical weapons agreement that dismantled the overwhelming majority of Syria’s chemical weapons.
Finally, we know that until the international community prioritizes a diplomatic solution that addresses those underlying conflicts, with all the key stakeholders involved, this war will continue to be fought to the last Syrian man, woman and child.
So what can we all do?
Right now we have a tremendous opportunity to influence the role that Congress has on this debate, and what Congress presses the Administration to do. Congress must take back its constitutional responsibility to determine when and if the U.S. goes to war, and must push back against bad policy that escalates the killing and delays a political solution.
With your members of Congress home for recess, it’s a great opportunity to ask a question at a town hall for those having town halls, and to drop by the offices of members of Congress, and ask your members of Congress to issue a statement opposing this unlawful attack, and pressing Congress to immediately debate and vote against U.S. war in Syria.
We have plenty of materials at fcnl.org/syria on going to a town hall and the leave behind you can drop at your local congressional office.
If you are going to a town hall, the question you can raise is simple:
Will you urge Congress to immediately debate and vote against U.S. war in Syria, and press for diplomacy to stop the killing?
Many members of Congress have already issued a statement on Trump’s missile attack, but even many of those members are still trying to determine what their position will be on this attack on these broader questions of U.S. escalation in Syria. I know some of you were working with us in 2013 when it looked inevitable that the Obama administration would go to war against the Syrian government, but ultimately they didn’t because they didn’t have the support from Congress, and much of that was decided not in DC, but in the town halls, and in the kind of constituent uproar opposing U.S. military action back then. So your town hall questions, dropping by your office, your phone calls, and lobby visits--all of it can make a difference, and can help press the U.S. to support a diplomatic solution in Syria.