Biden Stands by Syria Air Strikes, Act of Self-Defense


On Feb. 25, President Biden ordered airstrikes on buildings in Syria. (Courtesy of Twitter)

On Feb. 25, President Biden ordered airstrikes on buildings in Syria that the Pentagon stated “were used by Iranian-backed militias” in retaliation for multiple rocket attacks on U.S. targets in the neighboring country of Iraq.  While there has been criticism that President Biden’s focus should be on internal crises within America, like the resurgence of the COVID pandemic, President Biden’s orders for these airstrikes were correct and just.

Leading up to the President’s airstrike orders, a deadly rocket strike hit a U.S.-led base in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil. President Biden couldn’t simply look past this series of airstrikes, especially one that resulted in deaths. Violence should never be the first answer to a problem. When presented with such a threatening situation though, violence may be the only viable solution. Violence may be the only thing that would send a clear message to the Iranian-backed militias responsible for the initial attacks.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated, “most of the 22 people killed in the bombings were members of Iraqi militias.”

The message sent by these attacks is that President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel. These airstrikes attempted to de-escalate the hostile situation in Syria and Iraq, the Pentagon stated.  

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, and President Biden both agreed in a phone call that those who were responsible for such attacks must be held fully accountable. The leaders of both Iraq and the U.S. mutually said that these attacks were just and called for. Anyone who attacks civilians, those serving the U.S. or Iraq, must feel some sort of retaliation.  

Dennis Ross, a former senior U.S. diplomat who had previously worked on Middle East policy under multiple presidents, tweeted, “By striking facilities used by the militias just across the border in Syria, the risk of blowback against the Iraqi gov is reduced.”

The Syrian government condemned these attacks, claiming they were just another series of actions that showcased the U.S.’s cowardly and unlawful violence. However, it was the only option the U.S. was given. To issue a statement or anything less severe than airstrikes would have had no effect. It would have shown that these militias can get away with bombing innocent people without facing any repercussions.  

Russia, one of Syria’s chief backers, also had harsh words for the actions of the U.S. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said they were only given warning minutes before the strikes, adding that this kind of warning “does nothing when the strike is literally already on its way.” Nonetheless, notifying Russia too far in advance could have jeopardized the operation’s secrecy within Syria.

The Pentagon took a harsh stance of defense against such criticisms, arguing that the Commander in Chief was granted the power to act accordingly under Article II of the Constitution. The Pentagon also cited article 51 of the U.N. charter, which provides countries with the right to “self-defense” in response to an attack such as this. The U.S. was not only legal in their actions but justified as well.  

Biden defended his actions in a letter to congressional leadership, writing that the U.S. “always stands ready to take necessary and proportionate action in self-defense.” Biden acknowledged that if Syria had been willing to take responsibility for themselves, the U.S. would not have been involved. However, that is not the case here as the U.S. was responsible for defending itself within Syria.  

Although President Biden has received plenty of criticism for this attack, it is clear that it was an act of self-defense and a successful one at that. President Biden’s airstrike orders were the correct thing to do as it sends a message to militias that they cannot act violently towards innocent people without facing substantial retaliation. This airstrike acts as a peek into the remainder of Biden’s term. To say that a President is willing to act in self-defense consistently may not be a bad thing to judge Biden’s presidency by.