We all know by now that on April 6, President Donald Trump fired 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. The mainstream media have framed this war crime as an act of patriotism, a reaction against human rights atrocities and the first thing Trump has done right in his presidency.
What most newscasts or articles are missing, however, is that attacking another country’s military bases is an act of war, one that had to be approved by Congress before being launched. Since the United States was not attacked, it cannot bomb another country’s military base without the approval of Congress.
The only reason George W. Bush got away with Iraq in the early 2000s was that of 9/11. The U.S. was attacked, maybe not by a single Iraqi, but it was. That gave Bush the authority to go into Iraq in search of fictitious weapons of mass destruction, though in reality, the U.S. went to war with Iraq because it could and because it needed to continue asserting itself as an imperial power.
Trump has nothing to justify the missiles other than human rights violations, ones that he has never shown empathy toward in the first place. If he did care about the atrocities that have been happening in Syria for the past five years, he would not have banned refugees from entering the U.S. and would have provided more adequate means of aid.
Never in the history of the U.S. has a military “intervention” been selfless or set out to save victims of genocides, civil wars and dictators. It has always been for the sake of freedom and democracy, which at this point could be synonymous with a new wave of imperialism and military occupations.
Because of the Trump administration, the U.S. finds itself starting an unnecessary war with Bashar al-Assad, pushing relationships with Russia to dangerous extremes and stirring up sentiments of both radical nationalism and passive progressiveness that make me feel as if I were living during the first years of the Vietnam War.
Marches have already been set up at Cornell University to protest the war. Racial tensions keep rising — or becoming more visible — especially in hostility toward Muslim communities. And sentiments of protecting the U.S. from an imaginary threat that was never going to attack it in the first place are fanning patriotism’s ashes and starting a dangerous fire.