Congress cannot allow President Trump to put political expediency over sound foreign policy when lives are on the line
By Rep. Maxine Waters
Waters is a founding member of the No War With Iran Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. Her 43rd Congressional District includes Westchester, Playa Vista and parts of Playa del Rey.
Just three days into 2020, and already Americans woke up to a world that is more dangerous and unstable than we’ve experienced in recent years. There is no question that Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani was a murderous general who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans in the Middle East, but so many questions remain about what information the administration had alleging that additional attacks on Americans were forthcoming.
While no patriotic American laments the death of such a heinous individual nor would anyone deny that Iran is a hostile adversary, we cannot allow this president and his administration to take impulsive actions that needlessly escalate tensions and start a deadly war with Iran.
Sadly, the writings have always been on the wall. Donald Trump and his administration have failed to develop a comprehensive strategy in the Middle East or seek out diplomatic solutions in tandem with our Western allies.
In 2018, Donald Trump recklessly withdrew the United States from the Iran Nuclear Deal with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Iran, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), thus allowing Iran to pursue a nuclear weapons program —unconstrained, without United Nations inspectors, and without any recourse to stop them short of a U.S-led war and occupation.
Last year, Trump tweeted, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran” and ordered a military strike in Iran, only to later cancel it.
The assassination of Iran’s notorious high-ranking top paramilitary general, who is immensely popular in Iran, could trigger a deadly galvanized response from the regime and undoubtedly lead us to the brink of war. Tragically, he has done so without securing an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran from Congress or properly briefing the American people.
I’m concerned that the now-impeached president’s actions may have been predicated in politics rather than sound foreign policy.
In 2011 he tweeted, ‘In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran’; and in 2012 he again tweeted, ‘Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin — watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.’
Perhaps Donald Trump believes that if he drags the country into war, the American people and Congress will rally behind him. Perhaps he thinks that war is a diversionary tactic. Perhaps he thinks it will drown out the criticisms of his scandal-plagued administration and protect him from removal by the Senate.
Donald Trump is dangerous, and his actions could have dire consequences for the safety and security of Americans. He has cozied up with dictators like Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin, shielded for a Saudi regime that murdered a journalist, turned his back on our Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS in Syria, and isolated our Western allies. He has lied more than 15,000 times, and he cannot be trusted with matters as important as war and peace.
The American people, through their elected representatives in Congress, deserve to have information regarding the administration’s decision to assassinate Soleimani. Did the president seek counsel from the intelligence community he has called disgraceful and compared to Nazi Germany, or consult with his top generals and military leaders after previously claiming that they did not know as much about foreign policy and military strategy as he does?
Given the president’s track record of siding with Russia over the U.S. intelligence community, while seeming to appease and cede geopolitical ground to dictatorships and strengthening the Kremlin’s position in the Middle East, the American people must be given a proper accounting of the information Trump received that led to this significant escalation in military action against a sovereign nation at this time.
As a founding member of the No War With Iran Caucus in the House, I stand with my colleagues in opposing an escalation of force and war with Iran. When countless lives are on the line, a presidential tweet of an American flag is insufficient. This president and his administration must immediately brief Congress and the American people on the path forward in Iran and the Middle East.