In the summer of 2014, the Obama administration initiated another war of choice in the Middle East. The intervention in Iraq had two stated objectives: saving Yazidis at risk of genocide and defeating the Islamic State. At the time, I wrote a series of columns guessing that any strike assets deployed to the region would be repurposed for other missions, that the operation would last longer than officials indicated, that mission creep was an absolute certainty, and that this would all happen quietly with limited congressional interest or public scrutiny. I was soon proven correct, unfortunately though unsurprisingly.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump slid further down this same intervention slope by authorizing the attack of a Syrian military airfield in Homs with 59 cruise missiles. According to a Pentagon news release, the military objective was not to harm Russian or Syrian forces, but to damage “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.” These strikes occurred without any public debate, without a single congressional hearing (and, for most members of Congress, without even notification until the missiles were launched), and were decided after two days of thinking or debate within the White House and just two meetings of “virtually all” the Principal’s Committee of the National Security Council, according to National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.