While President Donald Trump followed the air strikes he ordered in Syria late Friday by declaring “mission accomplished” on Twitter—echoing President George W. Bush’s infamous words uttered in May 2003 after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, where thousands of American troops now remain—his televised address left the action open-ended.
“We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” Trump declared Friday night.
For the second time in just over two years, the president last week accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of being behind a chemical attack in Syria, and ordered missile strikes before international investigators had verified the accusations and without the consent of Congress.
While some in Congress condemned the president for taking military action without congressional approval, with a bipartisan group of 88 legislators signing a letter Friday urging Trump consult them before launching an attack, top lawmakers appeared nearly indifferent to the fact that the strikes blatantly went against constitutional law.
“A pinpointed, limited action to punish and hopefully deter Assad from doing this again is appropriate, but the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a tweeted statement Friday night.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) struck a similar tone, condemning last week’s chemical attack and urging the president to adopt a “coherent strategy” to “hold [Russia] accountable” for its support of Assad’s government.
Democratic leaders: Trump’s military strike on Syria is “appropriate” (Schumer), but if he wants do more he needs to “come to Congress” and “present a clear set of objectives.” (Pelosi) #Resist pic.twitter.com/QEdn6DEHEu
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) April 14, 2018
In light of the open-ended phrasing included in Trump’s speech, anti-war activists implored Americans to resist adopting Schumer and Pelosi’s complacency, and to tell Congress to speak out forcefully against any more military action by the president.
“This impulsive decision to strike Syria, without waiting for the chemical inspectors to carry out their investigations and without Congressional approval, is a dangerous escalation of an already horrific war,” wrote the leaders of Code Pink in an email to their supporters. “And while US military has said this operation is over, President Trump and National Security Advisor John Bolton want a more sustained bombing campaign, one what threatens a wider war with Iran and Russia.
The group included a link to a petition that Americans can sign to demand that Congress invokes the War Powers Act, which requires the president to consult the legislature regarding military deployment and limits the amount of time troops can be engaged without congressional approval, to prevent more strikes.
“Congress must do its job!” continued Code Pink. “Instead of continually abdicating its responsibility to decide if and when we go to war, Congress must reassert its war powers and stop the President’s reckless foreign policy. Tell your senators and representative to invoke the War Powers Act to stop unconstitutional strikes on Syria.”