This week, President Donald Trump put his consistent volatility on clear display yet again when the admin abruptly carried out an airstrike killing the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, who had essentially been the second in command in the country. Now that the General Qassem Soleimani is dead, Iranian authorities have been pledging revenge against the United States — and Democratic presidential candidates have united in public opposition to the Trump administration’s recklessness and lack of transparency. The president’s team didn’t even brief Congress before carrying out the strike — but they’ve already set in motion a deployment of thousands more troops to the Middle East anyway.
After noting that he voted against the war in Iraq in the early 2000s over a soon well-supported fear that it would spark “greater destabilization in the region,” Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders insisted:
‘Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars. Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.’
Trump's dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars.
Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 3, 2020
Although the exact parameters of an Iranian retaliation remain to be seen, Esmail Qaani — who replaced Soleimani as head of the Quds Force — insisted following his appointment to leadership by Iran’s Supreme Leader:
‘We tell everyone, be patient and see the dead bodies of Americans all over the Middle East.’
BREAKING — “We tell everyone be patient to see the dead bodies of Americans all over the Middle East,” says the new commander of the Iranian Quds Force Ismail Qaani
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) January 3, 2020
Trump seems undeterred by the threat to American lives, considering he tweeted mockery of Iran’s warfighting capabilities early in the day following the strike on Soleimani. Yet, in reality, he has placed an increasing number of people in harm’s way over a Hail Mary action whose stated but now clearly defunct purpose was to thwart allegedly imminent attacks on American interests in the region.
Fellow presidential candidate and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren noted:
‘Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.’
Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 3, 2020
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s also a fellow presidential candidate, insisted that the president’s team must provide answers about their plan for the way forward — but he noted that he fears that the president’s team “has not demonstrated at any turn the discipline or long-term vision necessary” to effectively evaluate and address long-term consequences of their actions this week.
My statement on the killing of Qassem Soleimani. pic.twitter.com/4Q9tlLAYFB
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 3, 2020
South Bend, Indiana’s Mayor Pete Buttigieg expressed similar concerns, noting based on his own experience as a deployed military intelligence officer that “Before engaging in military action that could destabilize an entire region, we must take a strategic, deliberate approach that includes consultation with Congress, our allies, and stakeholders in the Middle East” — yet, Trump appears to have done no such thing. In the meantime, fellow presidential candidates including New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and even author Marianne Williamson all expressed similar concerns to those above. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has also demanded a briefing for Congress about the situation.
The Trump Admin has conducted strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani without an AUMF against Iran. Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 3, 2020