New England Lawmakers Question Trump's Strategy on Syria

Democratic Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton and other area lawmakers were quick to respond after President Donald Trump announced Friday night that the U.S. has launched "precision strikes" on targets associated with the Syrian chemical weapons program.

"All Americans, but especially our troops on the ground, should be asking what our strategy is in Syria," Moulton, a frequent critic of Trump, said on Twitter. "Why will this strike work when Trump's last one failed? When will @POTUS make up his mind about leaving or staying? How does this end...?"

Moulton, who has been mentioned as a possible 2020 presidential candidate, followed up with a second tweet, saying "'Sustained response' = war. And that requires the authorization of Congress — unless you don't believe in the Constitution."

He then added, "Anyone who uses chemical weapons should be stopped. That includes Assad and the Russians. But we've seen this before, we've tried this response before, and it clearly failed. We need a strategy, Mr. President, not a series of contradictory tweets."

Other Democratic members of New England's congressional delegation also shared their thoughts on Trump's announcement.

"It is Congress, not the president, which has the constitutional responsibility for making war," argued Bernie Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. "The international community must uphold the prohibition against the use of chemical weapons, but it is unclear how Trump's illegal and unauthorized strikes on Syria achieve that goal."

"Chemical attacks in Syria are horrifying, and a clear violation of international law," Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted. "The world must hold Assad accountable for his violence against the Syrian people — and the US should be part of a planned, coordinated multilateral effort."

Warren, however, shared Moulton's concern about a lack of Congressional approval.

"The Constitution gives Congress the power to authorize military action," she added. "If @realDonaldTrump wants to expand American military involvement in Syria's civil war, he must seek approval from Congress — & provide a comprehensive strategy with clear goals & a plan to achieve them."

"Tonight's U.S. military strikes on Syrian government targets are neither constitutional nor wise," Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said in a statement. "Attacks such as this on another country without Congressional authorization are unconstitutional, and they push the United States closer to what could be an interminable, all-out conflict in Syria."

"Assad must be held accountable for his horrific use of chemical weapons on his own people," echoed Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts. "But we don't put our troops in harm's way without a strategy. Pres. Trump must present one to the nation and Congress must vote."

Markey went on to call Assad's chemical attacks on Syrian civilians "barbaric," but said Trump's actions "will do nothing to deter future chemical weapons use, nor help end the Syrian civil war."

Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern added, "International community MUST hold #Assad accountable for killing civilians & using chemical weapons in #Syria. After 15 months in office, what is @POTUS strategy on Syria?"

"The Assad regime's brutality cannot go unanswered," Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire wrote in a statement. "I support these air strikes, done in coordination with our allies, but remain adamant that the administration must develop a comprehensive strategy for ending the Syrian civil war. Tonight, I once again call on the White House to issue a clear policy on Syria and urge the Senate to pass legislation to this effect."

"Isolated punitive action is no replacement for a comprehensive strategy designed to bring about an end to the conflict in Syria — the only thing that will truly bring relief to the Syrian people," Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, added. "The American people need to hear an actual strategy and an actual legal justification. Congress has a constitutional duty and I hope the majority permits appropriate hearings and briefings."

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