On February 25th, the Biden Administration conducted an airstrike in Syria targeting facilities used by Iranian-backed militia groups. Officials confirmed the attack was retaliation for a strike in northern Iraq that killed one civilian and wounded a US soldier last month.
“We’re confident that that target was being used by the same Shia militias that conducted the strikes,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
The death toll is unknown, though sources on the ground suggest at least 22 people may have died.
“Who would have thought that within 33 days [of Biden’s inauguration], we’d be bombing the Middle East again?” said Donald Trump Jr. last week at CPAC. “I would have!”
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, also conducted an airstrike in Syria early into his presidency. In April 2017, President Trump launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at an airstrip in Syria as retaliation for a chemical attack in Khan Shaykun.
Trump continued to strike Syria in 2017 and 2018 before pulling out in 2019 – leaving our Kurdish allies at the mercy of the Turks.
“Very quickly the Biden Administration is falling into the same old patterns of before, of responding to this and that without having a clear strategy that actually would extract us from these various conflicts and actually pave the way for much more productive diplomacy,” argues Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute. “This is not an ambiguous case. The administration’s actions are clearly illegal under the United States’ law and under international law.”
Progressives are particularly frustrated that Biden was able to launch an airstrike but has been unable to secure the $15 minimum wage he promised during his campaign.
“There is a deep problem in our democracy when the Executive Branch is willing to bend over backward to defer to arcane Senate rules to deny Americans a $15 wage but at the same time ride roughshod over Congressional rules [and] procedures to launch military strikes abroad,” argues Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA).
Others have simply asked for more transparency:
“I don’t know what they struck or what targets they went after; I hope it just wasn’t bombs in the desert,” said former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “I hope it really went after something that threatened the United States of America. If not, it’s useless.”
Republicans to side with the Biden Administration in support of the strike include Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).