12.20.2018 0

Congress cares more about securing Syria than securing the southern border


By Robert Romano

Congress apparently cares more about securing Syria than securing the U.S. southern border by building the wall.

That’s about all that can be taken away from some of the Congressional outcry against President Donald Trump who has announced the U.S. will be withdrawing troops from Syria — something Congress never authorized in the first place.

Trump in a tweet stated that U.S. objectives in Syria have been met: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” In another tweet, Trump warned that if Islamic State returned, they’ll get hit: “I am building by far the most powerful military in the world. ISIS hits us they are doomed!”

President Trump says the objective of defeating Islamic State is achieved. But now members of Congress, who never voted to put troops there in the first place, after three years of being there, are acting as if their permission is needed to leave. It was always an executive decision.

Live by executive action, die by executive action. Congress should have acted. Instead, they’re complaining.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) blasted the withdrawal, calling it “a grave error that will have incredible consequences, potentially not fully thought through.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said U.S. troop presence is vital to U.S. interests, stating, “After visiting Syria earlier this year, it is abundantly clear the approximately 2,000 American troops stationed there are vital to our national security interests.”

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) issued a statement declaring “the high-fiving winners today are Iran, ISIS, and Hezbollah. The losers are Israel, humanitarian victims, and U.S. intelligence gathering. A lot of American allies will be slaughtered if this retreat is implemented.”

Now, all that might be true. But the fact is, the action in Syria should have been debated by Congress and authorized. The U.S. has had 2,000 troops in Syria without any backing under Article I of the Constitution. In fact, U.S. troops have been operating in Syria since Nov. 2015, and airstrikes have been commencing since Sept. 2014 — without any authorization to use force by Congress. A four-year war Congress never cared about.

Yet, under the Constitution, it says, very clearly, under Article I, Section 8, that “The Congress shall have power… to declare war…”

Even under the constitutionally suspect War Powers Resolution, troops could have remained for 60 days, and then given 30 days to withdraw. That’s a 90-day window to have troops on the ground overseas without explicit authorization.

So, where’s the authority to leave troops there permanently? The 2001 and 2002 authorizations to use military force covered al Qaeda, Afghanistan and Iraq, not Islamic State and Syria. And is that even a good idea?

If it’s important enough to ask American soldiers to risk their lives to defend Syria, then it’s important enough for Congress to have a debate on going to war, weighing the pros and the cons. Why should the military be asked to risk their lives if Congress won’t even take a political risk and debate the issue?

Isolating Islamic State and defeating them in Syria was a clear goal, and one the American people could get behind. Either way, President Trump says the objective has been met. But for whatever reason, Congress was never willing to exercise its Article I war-making powers to debate the matter as required under the Constitution.

The Senate certainly found enough time to do so in terms of passing a bill that would, if it became law, order the administration to withdraw support from Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen in response to the Khashoggi murder.

The State Department just announced $10 billion of foreign aid for Central America for economic development.

The 2018 omnibus spending bill passed by Congress gave $500 million to Jordan to build a border wall.

So, surely, it can find enough time to go the floor and tell the American people why yet another authorization to use military force ought to be passed that will likely never be rescinded. The authorizations to go into Afghanistan and Iraq are almost 20 years old now.

The war on terror has become the endless war.

And in the meantime, Congress has completely dropped the ball on securing our own borders by building the southern border wall — something that was promised in the 2016 election — while migrants, gangs and drugs continue to knock at the door.

When voters call members of Congress globalists, this is what they’re talking about. Members of Congress who prioritize foreign interests above U.S. interests. It should be America first. Secure the border, and then come back and debate where U.S. troops ought to be fighting. It’s such a disgrace that America is supposed to act as the world’s policemen, and secure countries overseas like Syria but we cannot even protect our own borders. It’s completely upside down.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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