On September 13, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard took to the floor of the House to rebuke the administration, accusing President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of protecting “al-Qaeda and other jihadist forces in Syria,” all the while “threatening Russia, Syria, and Iran, with military force if they dare attack these terrorists.”
“This,” continued Gabbard, “is a betrayal of the American people, especially the victims of Al Qaeda’s attack on 9/11 and their families, first responders, and my brothers and sisters in uniform who have been killed or wounded in action and their families. For the President, who is Commander in Chief, to act as the protective big brother of al-Qaeda and other jihadists must be condemned by every Member of Congress.”
I spoke to Gabbard earlier this week about her opposition to Trump’s Syria policy.
James Carden: In June you and Republican Congressman Walter Jones introduced HR 922, the No More Presidential Wars Resolution, which would both define presidential wars not declared by Congress under Article I, section 8, clause 11 as impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors” as well as prohibit the president from perpetuating ongoing wars or from supplying, among other things, war materials, military troops, military intelligence, and financial support without first receiving congressional authorization.
While the policy of attacking Syria clearly fails on a moral, legal, and consequentialist grounds, it also will likely backfire on realist grounds. What is your view in terms of who would benefit and who would suffer from a US-led attack on Syria?
Tulsi Gabbard: In the short term, President Trump would benefit the most. The president loves being adored and praised, and despite his rants against them, he especially craves the favor of the media. Trump remembers very well that the only times he has been praised almost universally by the mainstream media, Republicans, and Democrats, was when he has engaged in aggressive military actions. Brian Williams, Fareed Zakaria and others could hardly contain their delight. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said, “Donald Trump became president of the United States” the moment the bombs started dropping. MSNBC’s Brian Williams praised the launching of US missiles, saying, “I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.” The Washington Post’s David Ignatius said that he thought that by taking this action, Trump “restored the credibility of American power.”
Right now, President Trump’s approval ratings are dropping, and he craves positive reinforcement. He and his team are making a political calculation and looking for any excuse or opportunity to launch another military attack, so that Trump can again be glorified for dropping bombs.