Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have voiced concerns about Trump’s Syria strategy since his strike on that country last Friday.
Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary James Mattis attended a briefing in the Senate, to answer lawmaker’s questions about the US’s Syria strategy, and how the strikes will be followed up – if at all.
While “there is no military strategy on the table” according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, he stated that Trump wants the troops out of Syria as soon as possible. However, he couldn’t provide a proper timeline for this withdrawal. He said that it is “conditions based,”, nonetheless, it will take place “as soon as possible.”
“It seems to me that the president is going to pull out of Syria as soon as he can, and I believe that ISIS can never be destroyed unless there is a credible holding force, and some Americans need to be part of that holding force or else we learn nothing from Iraq,” Graham said. “If you leave without an adequate holding force, they come back.”
Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry, stated that a discussion took place in his briefing regarding the strategy of the U.S. that needs to be implemented in the region. The discussion centered on the State Department’s “efforts to try to hasten a peace process in Syria for chiefly the benefit of the Syrian people.”
However, Sen. Tim Kaine on Friday, called the air strikes “reckless”, and was not fully pacified by what was discussed in the briefing.
“We’re getting out of Syria, and then days later there are missile strikes. There’s a strategic set of contradictions,” stated Kaine. “I definitely feel like the people who were briefing today have good sense of what they think it should be. It’s just that I don’t necessarily know if that’s what the president thinks it should be.”
“I don’t think the Article II justifies them,” said Kaine, in reference to President Trump’s constitutional authority in using military force for the protection of the country’s national interest in case of an immediate threat.
According to Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Trump believes that his justification “allows the President to wage war anywhere, anytime, anyplace that he might want to, simply saying it’s in the national security interest. We can’t allow it.”
Thornberry, on the other hand, was concerned about the tensions that might break out between the legislative and its executive branches, regarding the use of force.
“You will have a variety of opinions about what the limits of the President’s ability to use force without prior authorization from Congress is. My personal opinion is that this was within the president’s authority,” said Thornberry, while adding, “I believe that you do have to have approval of Congress.”