The country is still reeling from the latest developments in the Syrian conflict this week, but one senator is looking toward the uncertain future and the events that this attack may set in motion. Bernie Sanders' response to the Syrian missile strike shows that he's "deeply concerned" about what will happen next, both for Syria and the United States, without the politics to back up the military action.
Sanders stopped short of entirely condemning Donald Trump's decision on either moral or political grounds, but warned that the American people don't need or deserve a repeat of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. "I’m deeply concerned that these strikes could lead to the United States once again being dragged back into the quagmire of long-term military engagement in the Middle East," Sanders said in a statement. "If the last 15 years have shown anything, it’s that such engagements are disastrous for American security, for the American economy, and for the American people."
Although he was adamant about avoiding a new war, Sanders reaffirmed the necessity of American political engagement in Syria and stressed that diplomatic action was the best path forward. "As the most powerful nation on earth, the United States must work with the international community to bring peace and stability to Syria, where over 400,000 people have been killed and over 6 million displaced," Sanders said. However, the possibility of diplomatic resolution seems even further away now that Russia has suspended its agreement preventing direct engagement with American troops in response to the missile launch.
I’m deeply concerned the strike in Syria could lead the U.S. back into the quagmire of long-term military engagement in the Middle East.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 7, 2017
With diplomatic channels appearing to close, the best hope for the Syrian people may be resettlement. Sanders has been a vocal supporter of bringing Syrian refugees to the United States, though he did not mention the refugee program in his statement. Trump signed an executive order banning Syrian refugees from entering the country for 120 days last month, which could be overturned by another executive order allowing Syrian refugees. In his statement about the missile launch Thursday night, Trump languished over the atrocity of the Syrian government's gas attack, which killed more than 70 of its own citizens and prompted the American retaliation. Yet there's no way to tell if that this will lead to any change in his stalwart policy against Syrian or other Middle Eastern refugees.
Finally, Sanders addressed the importance of communication between the White House and the public, which has been minimal thus far. "The Trump administration must explain to the American people exactly what this military escalation in Syria is intended to achieve, and how it fits into the broader goal of a political solution, which is the only way Syria’s devastating civil war ends," Sanders said. However, the long-bubbling tensions with Russia and the undeniable criminality of the Syrian regime's crimes makes that political solution feel very far away.