ISIS is a terrible scourge, waging a misguided war on the world. Bastardizing the Islamic faith to murder, torture, and terrorize, ISIS has to be fought – on many fronts. But The New York Times’ editorial board says that Congress is “refusing to do its duty,” by not formally authorizing a war on ISIS. The NYT wants Congress to authorize the fight against ISIS as a new war, so the US can put even more boots on the ground in Syria, but on which side?
In their editorial Sunday, the NYT says that Congress has a “constitutional responsibility for making war.” That statement is an outrageous claim that somehow our lawmaking body must make wars. Congress can support or not support a given conflict, which is an important check on the President’s powers as Commander in Chief, but there is no duty-bound requirement for Congress to do so. Currently, 2001’s “War on Terror” is the legal basis for controlling ISIS, but the NYT thinks that it is not enough to cover the Syrian conflict.
The media watchdog, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting points out that the war against ISIS has already been an expensive and deadly conflict:
“Originally launched in August 2014 under the auspices of “targeted,” “limited” airstrikes to stop an impending genocide, the war on ISIS has since expanded to include four countries, 50,000+ bombs, 1,000 attacks on civilians and over $11 billion handed out to defense contractors.”
Of course, The New York Times did not object to President Obama’s use of the “War on Terror” to justify the attacks on ISIS when it was first launched in 2014. But now, they have decided to question the legality of Congress’ 2001 authorization, as applied to ISIS.
The call to expand the authorization to fight ISIS comes as the Trump administration is ramping up US-led coalition strikes that have resulted in more than 1,000 civilian deaths. Trump’s efforts follow the equally terrible record of his predecessor, President Obama. Obama launched 542 drone strikes that resulted in a civilian death toll as high as 98 percent. Those attacks came without Congress needing to offer new authorization to fight ISIS. One can only imagine the carnage if Congress took such a measure, especially as fighting intensifies specifically in Syria. The New York Times says:
“There is talk of reinforcing the roughly 900 American troops who are now in the country. Instead of conducting airstrikes and relying on Syrian and Kurdish forces for ground operations, as they have done for months, the Americans are now involved with tanks and troops, a more direct and far riskier role.”
They go on to encourage a debate that could force “Congress […] to consider a crucial decision the administration must make soon on whether to arm Syrian Kurds for the Raqqa fight and risk alienating Turkey, a NATO ally.” Unfortunately, the Syrian crisis is far more complex than simply picking a side.
There are currently four factions fighting for different goals in the country. While Russian-backed Syria is fighting against Syrian rebels which are backed by Turkey and western countries like the US yet have also been overrun by al Qaeda, Turkey and Syria both disprove of Kurds fighting for their own federal government in the Northern part of Syria, but the Kurds are considered the most loyal ally to the US in the region. There are even different factions of Kurds that include designated terrorist organizations. Meanwhile, virtually everyone is fighting against ISIS while they gain more ground and take advantage of Syria’s compromised position. It is a brutal mess, with wide-ranging implications.
There is simply no easy answer to the Syrian conflict. If the US is forced to chose a side, like the NYT is suggesting, it would mean an all out conflict and possibly a proxy war with Russia, the alienation of a key NATO ally like Turkey, or both. Arming the Kurds would anger Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Russia all at the same time, while also our seeing weapons end up with Marxist terror organizations. That, in turn, could lead to ISIS gaining more ground in the region. If our goal is to simply rid the region of ISIS, we must do so under the guise of fighting terrorism. To that end, we must enlist the help of anyone willing to fight on our behalf, whether it is Russia, Turkey, the Kurds, or whoever.
Of course, NYT’s promotion of war is nothing new. As Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting points out:
“In the past 30 years—from the Persian Gulf to Bosnia to Kosovo to Iraq to Libya—the New York Times editorial board has never once opposed a US war. The Times’ power-serving function was starkly evidenced when in January 2016, it opposed the US bombing Libya to fight ISIS without congressional approval, only to do a 180 and endorse the war effort the day after President Obama began bombing in August 2016.”
We should not forget that it was the Times’ reporter Judith Miller that sold the world on the idea of war in Iraq with her exclusive tales of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction that proved to be completely inaccurate. The New York Times fought mightily to deflect blame from Miller’s stories.
It is worth noting that the Department of Defense requested over a half-billion dollars for advertising in 2017, while defense contractors advertise heavily throughout the mainstream media, as they do not have to report traditional advertising as lobbying efforts. The New York Times, just like the rest of the corporate media, cannot afford to anger the defense industry, no matter how many lives are lost. Advertising dollars and political influence are far too strong for the press to resist. After all, this is how the NYT addressed over 100 civilian deaths:
What an utterly adorable way to say we absolutely committed a war crime that murdered over 100 human beings. pic.twitter.com/9jDKzZIovE
— Nima Shirazi (@WideAsleepNima) March 29, 2017