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Syria Strike Should Concern College Students

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It’s been 50 years since the major protests of 1968 that saw U.S. campuses as the focal point for outrage against a multitude of issues: U.S policy in Vietnam, racial inequality in Black communities throughout the U.S. and the general rejection of capitalism and materialism by a broad-based youth counter-culture.

We’ve seen protests in the recent past from Black Lives Matters rallies to the walkouts and mass marches over the Parkland, Florida shootings.

But will the recent Trump-led strike on Syria move students to protest?

A few of the students I’ve encountered in my stint as an adjunct this spring semester would identify as “woke.” I sure hope the rest of them wake up and understand what’s going on with President Trump and Syria and how that impacts their future. Do they want to live while a world war rages and call to duty is more than a video game?

Trump, the America-first isolationist, now wants to come out, guns blazing as policeman of the world.

Students should be concerned.

There should be no doubt that the strikes that took place were illegal and against all major international standards. And if any of them are worked up about Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency, the students should understand that more than the Mueller investigation, the Cohen investigation, or Stormy Daniels, the strikes in Syria pose a greater threat to the Trump administration.

“It’s a clear-cut violation of the United Nations charter,” Dr. Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, told me by phone over the weekend. “It’s a violation of the War Powers clause of the U.S. Constitution. It’s a violation of the War Powers resolution enacted by Congress. This constitutes a Nuremberg crime against peace, and an aggression in violation of the Rome statute of the U.S.  criminal court definition. So there’s no legality at all that I can tell, just wanton and naked aggression…It’s clearly illegal and all these actions by President Trump are certainly impeachable, as well.”

There’s that  “I” word. Not going to Congress pre-strike for approval? That’s a critical no-no. And impeachable.

What about England and France? Along for the ride, said Boyle. “Window dressing,” he called it. This was Trump’s show.

You may not see many people on the mainstream news speaking so bluntly about the strikes.

But that’s because a different kind of diversity – of political opinion – on even the least conservative and slightly more centrist channels like CNN or MSNBC don’t  allow for a voice like Boyle’s.

Who’s Boyle? A Harvard J.D. who also holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard, Boyle went through the same program as Henry Kissinger and was given his office at the Center for International Affairs. He knows what he’s talking about. He understands that U.S. foreign policy isn’t missionary work.

But it doesn’t have to be decided with missiles, either.

Neither a neo-con or neo-lib, Boyle represents a voice that doesn’t get on the news shows much. Where are the voices of peace? Of diplomacy? You don’t see them on the mainstream. But they’re out there through alternative media networks like the Institute for Public Accuracy.

If you want 24-hour warmongering, you could always turn to the mainstream. If you want to hear another view, you’ll have to turn to outlets willing to let informed voices like Boyle’s break through the echo chamber.

Because there is a case for peace and it begins with the rule of law.

What of the humanitarian deterrent argument? Boyle says that notion was rejected by the World Court back when Reagan used it as a pretext in Nicaragua.

He also points out how the deterrent is far from humanitarian, especially when U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is on record after the strikes saying the U.S. is “locked and loaded.” It’s a warning to all that more is to come.

The fact that the strikes occurred on the first day on the job for National Security Advisor John Bolton, a neo-con hawk, and you can tell who has Trump’s ear going forward.

It doesn’t bode well for the world.

“If this isn’t stopped now, this situation could degenerate,” Boyle said. “We could end up with Sarajevo 1914. That’s how serious it is.”

That, of course, was the start of World War I.  Just as the Balkans were carved up, the same could happen to Syria with all the imperial players drawing lots for the richest oil fields. Lo and behold, the humanitarian motives are trumped by the economic.  Judging from the miniscule number of Syrian refugees accepted by the U.S., we should have already known saving people isn’t the real focus.

Boyle says someone in the House of Representatives should begin drawing up impeachment papers now.

That could happen — especially if Congress hears a fervent cry from college campuses, 50 years after the monumental protests of the ‘60s dared to change the direction of our country.

Emil Guillermo is a veteran journalist and commentator who writes for

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