Saturday, May 25, 2024

House Votes To Continue Forever War In Syria

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives defeated a motion that would’ve ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. The motion, which was filed by Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) failed in a 321-103 vote. It was brought to the House floor for a vote under expedited procedures outlined under the War Powers Act.

Clear majorities in both parties voted against the resolution. Overall, 56 Democrats, mostly the party’s most progressive members, and 47 Republicans, mostly the party’s more populist and libertarian members, voted to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

If the bill would’ve passed, it would’ve required President Joe Biden to withdraw troops from Syria within 180 days. U.S. troops have been deployed to Syria ostensibly to combat terrorists from the Islamic State. However, the Islamic State otherwise known as ISIS, no longer has a major presence in Syria. Their caliphate has been destroyed.

From Defense News:

Congress has never authorized the use of military force in Syria,” Gaetz said in a statement upon introducing the bill last month. “The United States is currently not in a war with or against Syria, so why are we conducting dangerous military operations there? President [Joe] Biden must remove all U.S. armed forces from Syria.”

The Defense Department first deployed troops to Syria to fight the Islamic State group in 2014. That conflict also saw the return of U.S. forces to Iraq. U.S. troops have remained stationed in both countries under a 2001 military authorization, which Congress passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to target al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

Four presidents have since used the 2001 military authorization to justify at least 41 military operations in at least 19 countries across the globe.

Since the territorial defeat of the so-called ISIS caliphate, the U.S. Defense Department has kept troops stationed in both Syria and Iraq. In Syria, they remain split in the northeast — where they aid the Kurdish-majority administration’s fight against ISIS sleeper cells — and the southeast garrison of al-Tanf, which has become a frequent target of attack for Iran-backed militias.

The root of the problem is that we are using the 2001 military authorization, which was intended to be used against al-Qaeda, to justify military intervention against unrelated groups. It has been long past time for Congress to repeal the use of force authorization passed in 2001.

I wouldn’t hold my breath on Congress passing a resolution to repeal the 2001 military authorization any time soon. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee is just now passing legislation to terminate the use of force authorizations that allowed both Iraq Wars.

The United States has bigger fish to fry than chasing down the remnants of ISIS. We are likely heading to a new Cold War, if not already in one, with China and Russia. We have Mexico which is increasingly becoming destabilized by that nation’s drug war.

The finances of the Department of Defense are still a mess. The department still cannot pass an audit.

Instead of waging forever war in Syria, we need to focus on the real threats to the United States. It’s time to bring the troops home.