You Make a Difference! Our mission and operations are funded entirely by Patriots like you! Please support the 2023 Year-End Campaign now.

October 17, 2019

Battle Lines Over War Powers

Congress “disapproves” of Trump’s policy in Syria, for which he fails to make the case.

Wednesday in Washington held more political theater than just President Donald Trump’s reality-TV meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This time it’s a struggle over constitutional war powers.

The House voted 354-60 (including 129 Republicans siding with all Democrats) to pass a toothless resolution of disapproval for Trump’s troop-shifting in Syria. U.S. troops are in Syria because of an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed after 9/11 to empower the president to deploy troops against the responsible terrorists and any “associated forces.” Some argue that doesn’t apply because ISIS isn’t al-Qaida, but that’s a distinction without a difference.

In any case, members of Congress want all of the political benefit from criticizing the president with none of the responsibility for the policy. The president wants the freedom to move troops without the partisan and political squabbling inherent in going before Congress. No one seems to remember the Constitution’s general prescription for war.

As political analyst David Harsanyi argues, “If you want to stop Donald Trump from making unilateral decisions regarding war and peace, then stop letting all presidents make unilateral decisions about war and peace. It’s really quite simple.”

Put another way, The Washington Times editorial board asserts, “If Congress is so adamant that U.S. forces should be fighting in the Syrian civil war, then Congress should vote to declare war.”

Back in 2013, Barack Obama half-heartedly asked Congress for an AUMF in Syria … to remove its dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Obviously, Assad’s a bad actor backed by Iran and Russia, but removing him was not going to end well. (For more information, see Obama’s misadventures in Libya.) Congress declined to give Obama the AUMF.

Obama sent troops to fight ISIS in Syria anyway, as a cleanup for having created the Islamic State in the first place. Trump took that to another level, effectively destroying the caliphate — primarily thanks to the Kurds we’re now leaving to the Turkish wolves.

As far as Trump making a coherent case for his policy, don’t hold your breath. On Wednesday, we learned of Trump’s bizarre and cartoonish letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appealing for “a good deal” and warning Erdogan, “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”

And then we heard Trump make callous comments about the Middle East: It contains “a lot of sand they can play with,” he said. “We have a situation where Turkey is taking land from Syria. And Syria is not happy about it. Let them work it out. We shouldn’t be over there.”

If only it were that simple.

As Victor Davis Hanson outlines in a must-read column on this difficult subject, the situation with Turkey, Syria, and the Kurds is very complicated.

From our perspective, that means the commander-in-chief should spend more time laying out his case instead of insulting just about everyone in an effort to simply make the “right” people mad.

On a final note, Mark Alexander argues, “One underreported factor here is the sequence of events. The Turks have long planned to come across the border to hit the Kurdish YPG and PKK and establish a resettlement zone for refugees. I believe they gave Trump advance notice of their impending operations. Rather than threaten a counter-offensive against a NATO member (not an option) Trump removed our advisers from the line of fire. By contrast, the prevailing narrative is that the Turkish offensive was the result of Trump’s removal of what were, in effect, a small number of human military shields protecting Kurds along the Turkey/Syria border. But I don’t think it was a bluff on Turkey’s part. Let me take a wild shot here and suggest that, because of a myriad of other strategic implications, most of which are never black and white, Trump actually signed off on this plan.”


Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Please join us in prayer for our nation — that righteous leaders would rise and prevail and we would be united as Americans. Pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic's Founding Principle of Liberty, that the fires of freedom would be ignited in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.