Ted Cruz, September 9, 2013 on proposed air strikes by President Obama: Why I’ll vote no on Syria strike.
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.
Second, just because Assad is a murderous thug does not mean that the rebels opposing him are necessarily better. As of May, seven of the nine major rebel groups appeared to have significant ties to Islamists, some of whom may have links to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Their presence and power have only increased, according to media reports. We should never give weapons to people who hate us, and the United States should not support or arm al-Qaeda terrorists.
Third, the potential for escalation is immense. Syria is in the midst of a sectarian civil war, born of centuries-old animosities. We have no clear ally in this Sunni-Shiite conflict, and any “limited” and “proportional” strike could quickly get out of control, imperiling our allies and forcing us into the civil war.
The president and his secretary of state have repeatedly said that Assad’s use of chemical weapons violates an “international norm.” They insist it is critical that we send a “message” to Assad that his behavior is unacceptable. But it is not the job of U.S. troops to police international norms or to send messages. Our men and women in uniform have signed up to defend America.
That was Ted Cruz from 2013. I agreed with his reasoning then and I still agree with it now.
Donald Trump, September 7, 2013:
President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your "powder" for another (and more important) day!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2013
And August 30, 2013:
The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2013
Trump was right then, and his reasoning is still true.
The first time Trump did this, Andrew C. McCarthy said:
No legal basis for Trump's attack on Syria. US not under threat of attack. Needed Congress ok … &, btw, it's what he campaigned against.
— Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) April 7, 2017
I was with McCarthy then and I am with them now:
Still against Syria intervention. https://t.co/dcITvUYkL3
— Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) April 14, 2018
Because nothing is different now.
The Constitution says Congress must declare war. The President may conduct the war that Congress has declared, and can also act in response to sudden attacks.
Syria has not attacked us. Congress has not declared war. Strikes like these are an act of war. If someone did it to us, we would see it that way.
There is no constitutional basis for these attacks. Trump should not be doing this.