Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) has released the following statement on last night’s military strikes in Syria:

The use of chemical weapons on civilians is an atrocity, a nightmare, and a human rights violation evoking outrage across the globe. President Assad is now a repeat offender, having trained chemical weapons on thousands of his own people back in 2013 and slaughtering them continuously ever since. An estimated 470,000 people have been killed in the Syrian Civil War, and millions of desperate people have been displaced by it.

Although it is reassuring that something in this recent horrific attack caused President Trump to change his opinion of President Assad and to draw the line at chemical attacks, a single emotional response by the Commander-in-Chief and a set of limited missile strikes do not make a coherent or effective foreign policy to stabilize the situation, much less liberate the people of Syria from the horrors of continuing dictatorship and war.

The Syrian Civil War is the most devastating humanitarian crisis of our time, and the Administration's baffling tilt towards Putin and Assad has been a disaster for the people of Syria and an embarrassment to the people of America.

I hope that the President's newly expressed interest in human rights and human welfare in Syria will turn into an effort to work with Congress, the United Nations, our allies, and his administration's many contacts within the Russian government to bring an end to the bloodshed and violence. After-the-fact military strikes will not ameliorate, much less terminate, the suffering of the Syrian people. We need a comprehensive and coordinated effort to end the war, rescue civilians, and change the dynamics in Syria.

One thing President Trump can do right now to improve the situation is to rescind his outrageous and judicially discredited ban on Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the U.S.

Of course, if President Trump seeks to take further military action in Syria, he must obtain from Congress a declaration of war or a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Our Founders treated war as a serious national undertaking and decision, which is why the Constitution requires Congress to debate, deliberate and declare war before the President, as Commander-in-Chief, prosecutes it. As we have seen in Iraq, wars in the Middle East are a lot easier to get into than to get out of, and we need serious congressional analysis and constitutionally-mandated deliberation if the President thinks we need further military engagement at this point. 

Congressman Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Montgomery, Frederick, and Carroll counties. He is the Vice Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, a Senior Democratic Whip, and Freshman Representative to the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. He also serves on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Committee on House Administration.