Without consent of the U.S. Congress or presenting a credible case for its necessity or offering verifiable evidence of charges levied against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, President Donald Trump on Thursday night launched more than 50 cruise missiles against Syria in what he said was retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack earlier this week.
While the U.S. military released footage of Tomahawk cruises missiles being launched from Navy vessels positioned in the Mediterranean Sea, Trump made a short televised statement from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida:
According to the Associated Press:
The U.S. strikes —59 missiles launched from the USS Ross and USS Porter — hit the government-controlled Shayrat air base in central Syria, where U.S. officials say the Syrian military planes that dropped the chemicals had taken off. The U.S. missiles hit at 8:45 p.m. in Washington, 3:45 Friday morning in Syria. The missiles targeted the base's airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, officials said.
The attack killed some Syrians and wounded others, Talal Barazi, the governor of Syria's Homs province, told The Associated Press. He didn't give precise numbers.
Trump ordered the strikes without approval from Congress or the backing of the United Nations. U.S. officials said he had the right to use force to defend national interests and to protect civilians from atrocities.
Syrian state TV reported a U.S. missile attack on a number of military targets and called the attack an "aggression."
Though Trump claims there is "no dispute" that Assad was responsible for the horrific deaths earlier this week in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, he is widely regarded as a serial liar and someone whose own FBI and top intelligence officials have had to discredit recent public accusations he has made.
— Ron Asher (@rmasher2) April 7, 2017
While the United Nations members have called for a full and thorough investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Trump did not wait for that probe to even begin before coming to his conclusion and reacting with military force.
As journalist Glenn Greenwald noted:
The impetuousness of this bombing campaign - its impulsiveness - is stunning even by US war-loving standards https://t.co/K8SLIpNL3Z
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 7, 2017
But as the corporate U.S. media once again crouched into a submissive and uncritical pro-war stance, critics of Thursday night's coverage of the U.S. attack on Syria did their best to push back against the all-too-familiar trend:
Guest after guest is gushing. From MSNBC to CNN, Trump is receiving his best night of press so far. And all he had to do was start a war.
— Sam Sacks (@SamSacks) April 7, 2017
good thing we don't have govt-controlled media in this country pic.twitter.com/fLkt9lQZa6
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) April 7, 2017
Among the few anti-war voices presented on cable news, Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalist Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, appeared on MSNBC and characterized Thursday night's attack on Syria as a "serious" and "dangerous escalation" by the United States.
According to Bennis, even if Trump had gone to Congress and received authorization, the bombings would still be illegal under international law. Without approval of the UN Security Council and absent a credil argument of self-defense.
Peter Van Buren, a former U.S. diplomat who served in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, put it this way:
US just launched 50 Tomahawk missles into Syria. God help us. No one knows where this ends
— Peter Van Buren (@WeMeantWell) April 7, 2017