Biden takes first military action by air striking Syria

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Lucy Buller, Reporter

On Feb. 25, President Joe Biden carried out his first military action as president, ordering airstrikes on Syrian buildings that the Pentagon said were being used by Iranian militias. The attacks were in retaliation for the recent rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq. 

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes killed at least 22 people after hitting three of the munition-loaded trucks near Abu Kamal, a border town of Syria. The previous Iraq rocket attacks killed one and injured more. 

“Originally I had pretty positive views of Biden, all things considered. He was nowhere near my first pick during the democratic primaries, and for a while I was upset that he won the nomination. I did not think he had aggressive enough policies on a lot of issues like climate change or wealth inequality, and that a Biden administration would mostly constitute a shift left from Trump, but ultimately a shift back to business as usual before Trump,” junior Ethan Neufeld said. “The drone strikes have not been the only thing to influence my opinion of him now, but they have definitely shifted it somewhat more negative. I always knew he had a hegemonic foreign policy based on keeping American hard power in the Middle East, almost everyone in Washington does. At the same time, I do not necessarily want a president that simply allows bad things to happen in the world on the basis of sovereign borders.”

The Pentagon fought back against controversy and the overall legality of the strikes, saying that Article II of the Constitution grants the president as the commander-in-chief the right to “self-defense” in response to the rocket attacks. 

A statement from the Pentagon said that this operation sends an unambiguous message, the direct statement being “President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.” Opinions of President Biden have significantly changed, both positively and negatively after the air strikes. 

“Personally, I never truly supported Biden to start, as we just do not see eye to eye in many things, I respect him as our president nonetheless,” freshman Nick Ruth said. “After the recent bombing, I am actually more in support of him. It shows he has some backbone to him and will not put up with the deaths of innocent Americans. It was a strong move that needed to happen early in the presidency to show that he can be a strong leader.”

According to John F. Kirby, press secretary of the Pentagon, two F-15 fighter jets dropped seven munitions on the buildings, totally destroying nine of the structures and parts of another two. Abu Kamal, the buildings’ location, is a known center for the Iraqi Shiite militias, which are supported by Iran. 

“To be in line with his domestic rhetoric, I think Biden needs to stop putting ‘America first’ and start pulling the U.S. military presence out of the Middle East and begin working on deals that are uniquely valuable to Middle Eastern countries regardless of political interests,” Neufeld said. “I know that this is a naively idealistic goal, but I think it is what would be best for everyone in the long run. I was disappointed but not surprised by Biden’s actions.”

President Biden has received serious backlash from some of the Senate democrats, especially after his choice not to confer with all of Congress. A statement from democratic senator Tim Kaine’s office read that the American people deserve to hear the Administration’s rationale for these strikes and its legal justification for acting without coming to Congress. Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional, absent extraordinary measures, according to Kaine’s statement.  

In an interview with USA Today, Ryan Costello, director of The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said that the main concern is that President Biden’s first instinct when it comes to regional security in the Middle East appears to be to reach for military options instead of diplomacy. The NIAC is an organization that strives for improved relationships between Washington and Tehran, the capital of Iran. 

“I thought Biden would have been a good president earlier in 2021, but after looking at unbiased sources it proved he was not the best person. I would much rather have him than Trump, however,” freshman Sophia Houser said. “He advocated for human decency and equality and then struck Syria, which is very disappointing considering Syria is not in the best condition already. I think the whole thing should have been handled responsibly and certain motives could have prevented this from happening.”

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