Jacob G. Hornberger |
With President Trump’s undeclared attack on Syria, a sovereign and independent nation, he has confirmed, once and for all, that he is just another foreign interventionist, no different from his predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. That means, of course, another four years of war, bombings, assassinations, shootings, terrorism, the war on terrorism, travel restrictions, walls, surveillance, incarceration, POW camps, torture, out of control federal spending and debt, and everything else that comes with an imperialist and interventionist national security state.
Going to Congress to seek a declaration of war against Syria would require Trump and his national-security state people to provide evidence and justification for going to war against Syria.
It’s important to point out that Trump’s decision to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air force base was carried out without a congressional declaration of war. This should, of course, mean something to conservatives, given their purported devotion to the Constitution, which prohibits the president from waging war without first securing a declaration of war from Congress. But don’t count on opposition to Trump’s new war coming from conservatives. They love foreign wars because it means ever-bigger government, along with more spending, taxation, and debt to fund them.
Reasons for no congressional declaration of war
No congressional declaration of war against Syria is important for two reasons:
One, it’s the law — the higher law that we the people have imposed on federal officials, including the president, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When these people enact laws against us, such as drug laws, they expect us to obey them even if we disagree with their legitimacy. By the same token, we expect them to obey the laws that we impose on them, as represented by the Constitution.
Is it really beyond reasonable possibility that some other groups around the world would take a page out of the Pentagon’s handbook and implement their own modified version of Operation Northwoods?
Two, going to Congress to seek a declaration of war against Syria would require Trump and his national-security state people to provide evidence and justification for going to war against Syria.
No one really knows whether the Syrian regime actually initiated the attack. So far, all we have are the pronouncements and accusations, none of which constitute evidence. It might well be the Syrian regime that conducted the attacks, but, by the same token, it might well be someone else. One might reply, “But, Jacob, who else could it be?” It could be anyone who would like to make it seem like the Syrian regime is guilty, including people who would like to destroy the friendly relationship that exists between the Trump administration and Russia.
The US and a series of making-things-up
Recall Operation Northwoods. It was a top-secret Pentagon plan that called for terrorist attacks and airplane hijackings to be carried out by secret agents of the US national security state. The attacks would be made to look as though they were carried out by communists from Cuba. Under the plan, the president, who was John Kennedy, would then formally blame Fidel Castro and Cuba for the attacks, thereby providing a false and fraudulent pretext for invading Cuba and effecting regime change there.
(To his everlasting credit, Kennedy rejected the plan.)
Assad isn’t the only brutal dictator the CIA has partnered with over the years. The Shah of Iran and Gen. Pinochet come to mind.
Is it really beyond reasonable possibility that some other groups around the world would take a page out of the Pentagon’s handbook and implement their own modified version of Operation Northwoods? What better way to provide a justification for a US bombing attack on Syria, which would be certain to damage US-Russia relations than a supposed chemical attack carried out by the Syrian regime?
As an aside, it’s somewhat ironic that US interventionists are celebrating the 100th anniversary of World War I because that was the war in which the British government knowingly and deliberately used false and fraudulent propaganda as a way to get the United States embroiled in the war. For example, they put out stories that Germans were impaling Belgium babies, knowing full well that they were making it up but also knowing full well the impact it would have in inducing America to get involved in the war. Of course, by the time Americans discovered that they had been deceived, the war was over. That’s one of the many reasons they so fervently opposed getting embroiled in World War II.
Read more: The US’s top 10 Lies About Syria
What we all need to realize is that Trump’s attack on Syria means that the United States is now at war with Syria, just as the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor meant, as a practical matter, that the United States was, at that point, at war with Japan.
Even if Syria did carry out the attack as part of its attempt to suppress a revolution in that country, what business is that of the United States? That is, who appointed the US government the policeman of the world? Thus, even if Trump had followed the law and secured a congressional declaration of war, that still wouldn’t make his war legitimate given that the US government has no legitimate business going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.
Trump said that he was only doing it for the Syrian children and other victims of the chemical attack. Really?
Aren’t these the same children, along with their parents, who he won’t permit to freely come to the United States as war refugees? Isn’t this the same president who doesn’t give a hoot about American children of illegal immigrants whose parents he is deporting?
Pinochet, Saddam, and now Assad
Let’s not forget some inconvenient truths about the US national-security establishment in all this.
One, the CIA partnered with Syria’s president Assad in the torture of Canadian citizens Mahar Arar. We still don’t know how the partnership got established and what its exact terms were because the mainstream press has never pressed the CIA for an answer. But there is no question but that the CIA did partner with this brutal dictator whose nation they are now bombing because he is a brutal dictator.
Two, Assad isn’t the only brutal dictator the CIA has partnered with over the years. The Shah of Iran and Gen. Pinochet come to mind. Indeed, today the United States is partnering and reinforcing the dictatorships of Egypt and Bahrain. Also, let’s not forget the infamous Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein himself. I’ll bet that many Americans have forgotten that the US government partnered with him and even provided him with chemical weapons that he could use against the Iranian people.
Even if Trump had followed the law and secured a congressional declaration of war, that still wouldn’t make his war legitimate given that the US government has no legitimate business going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.
I wonder if the US position on Assad’s supposed use of WMD would change if Assad were to say that the reason he used them was to bring a quick end to the war and to save the lives of Syrian soldiers. Why might that change the perspective of US officials? Because that is the answer they still give to justify the US use of WMDs on children, seniors, and women at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The US attack is the start of a war
What we all need to realize is that Trump’s attack on Syria means that the United States is now at war with Syria, just as the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor meant, as a practical matter, that the United States was, at that point, at war with Japan. While the national-security establishment under President Obama was attacking targets within Syria, Obama could claim that he wasn’t really attacking Syria but rather ISIS. Trump’s attack is different. It is a direct attack on Syria itself.
That means, of course, that Syria might well strike back. We don’t know when and we don’t know how. But it is the nature of war for combatant nations to attack and counterattack. If and when the counterattack comes, you can bet your bottom dollar that Trump is going to say the same thing that his predecessors have said — that they just hate us for our “freedom and values” and that the counterattack has nothing to do with the fact that Trump, like Bush and Obama, has initiated a war with another sovereign and independent nation.
What Americans need to realize is that the fundamental problem facing our country is not Donald Trump. Instead, it is a structural problem — one involving the Cold War era structure of the US government — and a philosophical problem — one involving the entire concept of foreign empire and foreign interventionism. As long as the American people continue to keep the federal government as a national-security state, one whose mission includes imperialism and foreign interventionism, America will continue traveling down the road to bankruptcy, moral debauchery, hypocrisy, death, and destruction of liberty and privacy here at home. There is but one solution to all this: the restoration of a constitutional republic to our land and the complete rejection of empire and foreign intervention.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. This article was first published in The Future of Freedom Foundation and is republished here with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.