“The moment we all feared is likely upon us. An unstable President in way over his head, panicking, with all his experienced advisers having quit, and only the sycophantic amateurs remaining. Assassinating foreign leaders, announcing plans to bomb civilians. A nightmare.” Those words were written by Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy on January 4, following an American drone strike on Iraqi soil, which killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, and the president’s later tweets that he would destroy non-military targets almost certain to kill civilians (a war crime).
The moment we all feared is likely upon us.
An unstable President in way over his head, panicking, with all his experienced advisers having quit, and only the sycophantic amateurs remaining.
Assassinating foreign leaders, announcing plans to bomb civilians.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 5, 2020
It’s hard to disagree.
Experiencing impeachment and unfavorable poll numbers against his top electoral rivals — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden — at home, this president has brought us to the brink of war with Iran, and undermined our most important diplomacy efforts in the Middle East.
Congress, which under the Constitution holds the sole authority to declare war, was not consulted prior to the attack. Hazy justifications have been provided by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and the president that this was somehow supposed to prevent a war are lacking in evidence. The main justification seems to be that Suleimani was a bad guy who had orchestrated attacks on Americans in the past. That’s true, but was there forethought about what the consequences of his killing might be in this volatile region? Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate are rightly demanding the president declassify a belated notification to Congress of the attack.
But where are the Republicans?
If it is found that the president’s actions led us recklessly into war, any member of Congress who does not swiftly vote to impeach (again) and remove this president will be complicit in keeping an unstable megalomaniac in power.
Even Fox News conservative pundit Tucker Carlson — who famously demonizes immigrants and has called humans’ effect on climate change “an open question” — strongly opposed the attack on Suleimani and believed it could lead to needless war.
Speaking in Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders — who a CBS poll released Monday showed is in the lead in New Hampshire and tied for first in Iowa — reiterated the consequences of disastrous wars in the Middle East, recounting that America had lost 4,500 men and women fighting in Iraq with tens of thousands wounded, that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis had died, and that trillions of dollars were spent — all with the result that there is massive unrest, corruption, and poverty in the country.
“Trump promised to end endless wars,” Sanders said. “Tragically, his actions now put us on the path to another war, potentially one that could be even worse than before.”
Meanwhile, the action has unified Iran and much of Iraq against us. Millions of Iranians reportedly came out to mourn the slain general and chanted anti-American slogans. The Iranian government has backed out entirely of the Obama-era nuclear agreement our current administration walked away from (but was still in force through our allies). Iraq’s parliament decided to end America’s presence in their country, though many dissenting legislators stayed away rather than participating in that vote.
Nancy Pelosi has announced a war powers resolution, that would order the president to stop any military actions regarding Iran within 30 days if no further congressional action is taken — but with Senate Republicans blocking any and all Democratic legislation out of the House, the resolution may not be approved.
We are playing with war here — and the death and devastation that accompanies it. Our country can ill-afford keeping this current president in office.
Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at email@example.com.