Multiple Targets Hit in Syria and Iraq
On Friday, the United States took action against the recent drone attacks in Jordan that claimed the lives of three American soldiers. In response, the US launched retaliatory airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq. The strikes targeted over 85 locations, according to US Central Command (CENTCOM).
Biden’s Warning and Justification
During the attacks, President Joe Biden issued a warning, stating, “If you harm an American, we will respond.” In a letter addressing the attacks, Biden cited the ongoing threats to US personnel and facilities in Iraq and Syria. He emphasized that these attacks had now expanded to a third country, putting both American personnel and Coalition forces at risk.
The president justified the airstrikes by highlighting the previous attack by an Iran-affiliated militia that killed three service members and injured others at a base in northeastern Jordan. Describing the strikes as “discrete,” Biden stated that they were intended to deter further attacks and protect US personnel and assets.
Authorization and International Law
Biden invoked his constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive, referencing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from 2001 and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq from 2002. He further claimed that the strikes were consistent with international law, specifically Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which recognizes the right to self-defense.
The president assured Congress of his commitment to keeping them fully informed, in accordance with the War Powers Resolution. However, it should be noted that there is bipartisan support for adopting new authorization specifically for the current conflict, as the existing AUMFs were originally intended for different purposes.
Efforts are underway in both the Senate and the House to address the outdated AUMFs from 2001 and 2002. While the Senate repealed the 2002 AUMF, the House’s attempt to do so was unsuccessful. There is now a bipartisan push in the House to repeal both AUMFs, reflecting the constitutionally granted authority of Congress to “Declare War” as stated in Article 1, Section 8.
As the situation unfolds, President Biden remains prepared to take further action, including measures against the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its affiliated personnel and facilities. The US’s objective is to defend its forces and partners from ongoing attacks while adhering to international law and maintaining transparency with Congress.