Not Everyone is Enamored of Trump's Syrian Intervention

Last night President Trump received support from Senators McCain and Graham, from Senator Rubio, and even agreement (in advance) from Hillary Clinton. But there are those with reservations about Thursday’s missile strike.

Senator Ted Cruz offered a carefully worded statement with an important takeaway: justify it.

Today, after eight years of Obama foreign policy failures, Syria is a humanitarian disaster. Bashar al-Assad is a monster, a puppet of Russia and Iran, and he has once again used chemical weapons against his own citizens, murdering innocent men, women, and children.

Our prayers are with Assad’s victims, and with the victims of the ISIS and al Qaeda terrorists ripping Syria apart. And, as always, our support and prayers are with the brave Americans in uniform who carried out the military strike tonight.

Any military action in Syria must be justified as protecting the vital national security interests of America – including decisive action to prevent chemical weapons from falling into the hands of radical Islamic terrorists – and I look forward to our Commander-in-Chief making the case to Congress and the American people how we should do so in the days ahead.

That’s not a dissent, but it is careful. And the reminder to justify to congress how this protects American interests is something Senator Cruz has brought up before. In an op-ed for the Washington Post in 2013, Cruz outlined why he would vote against Obama’s air strikes. Most of his reasoning would be exactly as applicable today, and this in particular is especially relevant:

First, Assad’s actions, however deplorable, are not a direct threat to U.S. national security. Many bad actors on the world stage have, tragically, oppressed and killed their citizens, even using chemical weapons to do so. Unilaterally avenging humanitarian disaster, however, is well outside the traditional scope of U.S. military action.

Cruz tread more cautiously than Senator Paul, who is offering outright opposition. After the details were made public, Paul took to Twitter and made his case, starting out bluntly:

He then offered the same reminder Senator Cruz offered: get approval.

And then ends with another stark observation about efficacy.

Fellow libertarian-ish Republican Rep. Justin Amash, too, was clear on how he views the constitutionality here.

This strike is not exactly the same as those under Obama’s administration. This directly attacked a Syrian government target. And it is true, the constitution is clear about the requirement that Congress declare war, not the President.

Now that the events have simmered overnight, there will be discussion among lawmakers about authorization and constitutionality. Perhaps Senator Cruz can shed some light at length today. In the meantime, I’m happy to just be happy that a brutal dictator got a missile to the face. If anyone deserves it, it’s that evil monster, Bashar al-Assad. You know, Russia’s other pal.