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Another Voice: Attack on Syria violated international, U.S. law

By Victoria Ross

The Western New York Peace Center condemns President Trump’s illegal military attack on Syria. His rash actions, while being applauded, only risk more strife in the region.

While Trump said he was “seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism,” he actually increased the slaughter, bloodshed and terrorism there.

Our military aggression increases violence worldwide. And we all pay the price: wars escalate, resentment of the United States and retaliation increase, and the resources that could be used to support people and the planet are used instead to kill, maim and terrorize, while causing more greenhouse gases and pollution than any other enterprise in the world.

The U.S. attack was clearly against international law. It was neither approved by the United Nations Security Council nor in self-defense – the only two conditions under which military action is permissible under international law.

It was also against U.S. law, as Congress is the only governmental entity that can approve an act or declaration of war. That presidents have often bypassed this critically important requirement doesn’t make it less important.

On the contrary, the resultant terrible endless and boundless “war on terror” only makes the importance of Congress’ role more evident.

While clearly not part of a long-term Middle East strategy, and done without full information regarding what actually happened, as well as being in opposition to everything Trump has said regarding Syria in the past, the strike has served to improve the president’s political situation.

As well-described by Margaret Sullivan in her Washington Post column on April 9, both the media and the public quickly applauded military action, finding it “presidential.”

The media also amplified the “drumbeat to war” on Iraq, which then occurred despite millions of people protesting worldwide. (The result was ISIS.)

We are addicted to war. We who espouse “building a bigger bully” and “might is right” find unilateral, uninformed, reactive violence irresistible. We rally round.

The strike also served to contradict  Trump’s questionable ties with the Russians – politically astute when his team included quite a few employed by Russia and their allies while working for him.

Trump’s claims of compassion as motivation are belied by his blocking Syrian refugees rather than inviting more in.

Instead of more violence, we should abide by and promote the rule of law, appealing to the United Nations and the Security Council members – including Russia – to take bold and unified action.

We should also activate people worldwide, and especially at home.

Let’s lead in communication and cooperation, not violence.

Victoria Ross is executive director of the Western New York Peace Center, and consults for the Interfaith Peace Network.

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