Reason Roundup

America Is Back to Bombing Syria

Plus: Remembering Steve Horwitz, Oregonians can temporarily pump their own gas, and more...


Analysts agree another round of bombings won't accomplish anything in Syria. One child was reportedly killed and three civilians wounded in U.S. airstrikes near the Iraq-Syria border on Sunday, according to Syrian state news agency SANA. This news has been absent from most U.S. coverage of the bombings, which has emphasized that several alleged members of Iraqi militias backed by Iran were also killed or wounded.

"At least 5 Iran-backed Iraqi militia fighters were killed and several others were wounded in an attack by US warplanes," according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The director of the war monitoring group later said seven fighters were killed. He also suggested the strike won't actually affect the Iraqi militia presence in the area.

According to the Pentagon, the bombs targeted facilities used by two Iraqi militias with ties to Iran: Kataeb Hezbollah and Kataeb Sayyid al-Shuhada. "These facilities are…engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Kirby described the strikes as self-defense, calling them "both necessary to address the threat and appropriately limited in scope. As a matter of domestic law, the President took this action pursuant to his Article II authority to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq."

But Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi called the attacks "a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security."

The militias that were bombed "technically are a part of the Iraqi security forces—the very security forces U.S. troops are supposedly training to fight an ISIS caliphate that doesn't exist anymore," noted Defense Priorities fellow and foreign policy analyst Daniel DePetris.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh accused the U.S. of "disrupting security in the region," warning that "one of the victims of this disruption will be the United States."

This is the second airstrike in Syria since Biden took office. Another bombing, in February, reportedly killed 20 Iraqi militia members.

At least one lawmaker, Sen. Chris Murphy (D–Conn.), worries that this is starting to look like more than just isolated incidents by either the U.S. or Iran.

"My concern is that the pace of activity directed at U.S. forces and the repeated retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxy forces are starting to look like what would qualify as a pattern of hostilities under the War Powers Act," said Murphy in a statement. "Both the Constitution and the War Powers Act require the president to come to Congress for a war declaration under these circumstances."

After the first round of strikes carried out by the Biden administration, senators introduced a resolution to repeal broad authorization for the use of military force in the Middle East. "Last week's airstrikes in Syria show that the executive branch, regardless of party, will continue to stretch its war powers," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D–Va.), one of the bill's sponsors.

"Congress has a responsibility to not only vote to authorize new military action, but to repeal old authorizations that are no longer necessary." The bill's other sponsor, Sen. Todd Young (R–Ind.), complained that "Congress has been operating on autopilot when it comes to our essential duties to authorize the use of military force."

But the Senate resolution hasn't gone anywhere since it was introduced in early March.

Earlier this month, however, the House did pass a bill to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which sanctioned the Iraq War. By a vote of 268–161, legislators voted to repeal the "nearly two-decade-old war powers measure, marking what many lawmakers hope will be the beginning of the end of wide-ranging authorities given to the president after the 9/11 terror attacks," reported NPR. It's now the Senate's move on that measure.


RIP economist Steve Horwitz.


Oregonians can briefly pump their own gas. A heat wave in Oregon has led state authorities to temporarily suspend a silly rule against people pumping their own gas at gas stations. The Oregon state fire marshal announced Sunday that people could pump their own gas through Tuesday, owing to high temperatures. If it's safe for Oregonians to pump their own gas during a heat wave—and during the height of the pandemic, when rules were also suspended—why not regularly?


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