Reactions by Democratic Presidential Candidates to Suleimani Killing

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There has been virtual unanimity in the political world that Qassim Suleimani was a murdering terrorist that no one should mourn.

Thomas Friedman, in a piece for the New York Times, offered an interesting perspective, that Suleimani was also dumb and overrated with his actions resulting in blowback against Iran by anti-Iranian-pro Democracy citizens in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

While no one argues Suleimani’s deserved end, some, especially in the Democratic sphere, question the validity of the intelligence the Administration claims justified their actions and the overall decision-making process the Trump Administration engaged in prior to authorizing the January 2, 2020 drone attack.

These questions make sense given the Trump Administrations:

  • Aversion to the truth.
  • Failure to brief the relevant members of Congress before the attack.
  • Stupidly pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal that was working.
  • Willingness to escalate the situation with no apparent strategy or end game.
  • Move forward in a direction that the Bush II and Obama Administrations (as well as the Israelis) did not choose when presented with opportunities to “take out” Suleimani.

The Democrats looking to become the party’s Presidential Nominee and defeat Donald Trump offered their views on the Trump action. Their views encapsulate all the concerns expressed in the preceding paragraph. Most of the excerpts come from tweets/press statements or were compiled by either Buzz Feed and USA Today.

Senator Michael Bennet

“I think this was a terribly reckless and provocative act. It’s the latest in a long string of non-strategic choices that Donald Trump has made in the Middle East, that has weakened our position in the Middle East, that has strengthened Iran’s position in the Middle East. And I think you couldn’t be more naive to believe that this was going to result somehow in Iran coming to the negotiating table, rather than creating the potential for another war — which is the last thing we need in the Middle East.”

“Our own War College has said in their 2000 page report that the winner of our last Iraq war was Iran. … [W]e can’t do more of this. We spent $5.6 trillion over the last 20 years to fight two wars in the Middle East. That didn’t result in any of the outcomes that the American people were promised.”

“What you’ve got to do is rebuild our alliances all over the world. … [I]n the Middle East, we have to rebuild the alliances that gave us the Iran nuclear deal, which for once was an attempt to manage a situation in the Middle East, instead of going to a war with it.”

“Donald Trump [is] the weakest foreign policy president we’ve had in my lifetime.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden:

“No American will mourn Qassem Soleimani’s passing. He deserved to be brought to justice for his crimes against American troops and thousands of innocents throughout the region. He supported terror and sowed chaos. None of that negates the fact that this is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region.”

“(Trump) just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond.”

“I’m not privy to the intelligence and much remains unknown, but Iran will surely respond. We could be on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg

“Without more information, we can only hope that the president has carefully thought through the national security implications of this attack for our country and the grave risks involved. But given his track record and his history of making reckless and impulsive decisions that undermine U.S. strategic objections and weaken our allies — most recently in Syria — there is every reason to be deeply concerned.”

Senator Cory Booker

“(Soleimani was) a bad person (but) we have to look at the larger, strategic situation in that area. We have a president who has had, really, a failure in his Iranian policy, who’s had no larger, strategic plan and has made that region less stable and less safe.”

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg

“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.”

“There is no question that Qassim Suleimani was a threat to that safety and security, and that he masterminded threats and attacks on Americans and our allies, leading to hundreds of deaths. But there are serious questions about how this decision was made and whether we are prepared for the consequences.”

“As we learn more in the coming days and weeks, one thing is clear: this must not be the start of another endless war. We must act wisely and deliberately, not capriciously or through Twitter. The consequences are grave, as anyone who has served in uniform understands all too well.”

Former Representative John Delaney

“While Soleimani was directly responsible for the deaths of countless lives, including many Americans, and was a significant danger to our troops and a destabilizing force in the region and deserved to be brought to justice for his actions against our troops, the Administration’s failure to brief Congressional leadership on this action is troubling and raises the risk of reckless actions that could lead to a dangerous escalation.”

“What is important at this moment in time is full coordination between the Administration and Congress to ensure the safety of all Americans in Iraq and throughout the region. That has to be our number one priority.”

Representative Tulsi Gabbard

“(The action) is very clearly an act of war by this president, without any kind of authorization or declaration of war from Congress, clearly violating the Constitution.”

She also released a video saying:

“Trump’s actions last night in bombing the Baghdad airport with the targeted killing of Iran’s top military general was an act of war.” 

“There is no question about how evil this guy is. No one should shed a single tear for his death. But that’s not really the question here. The real question is, what are we trying to accomplish here in this country and where will this decision that this president made to escalate these tensions and this crisis and commit this act of war without congressional authorization?”

Senator Amy Klobuchar

“The timing, manner, and potential consequences of the Administration’s actions raise serious questions and concerns about an escalating conflict. The Administration needs to fully consult with Congress on its decision-making, response plans, and strategy for preventing a wider conflict.”

“Our immediate focus needs to be on ensuring necessary security measures are taken to protect U.S. military and diplomatic personnel in Iraq and throughout the region.”

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick

“(Soleimani was) a menace to the world and to peace-loving people everywhere but”a difficult situation is becoming more dangerous because of a lack of leadership. Americans deserve a leader who they can trust in moments like these. The President owes the American people and the world an explanation of his strategy and what the next steps will be going forward,”

Senator Bernie Sanders

Senator Sanders called Trump’s actions an “assassination” and further commented that:

“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.”

He also tweeted with a video that

“I was right about Vietnam. I was right about Iraq. I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran. I apologize to no one.”

Businessman Tom Steyer

“Soleimani was a terrorist responsible for killing Americans. But this wasn’t authorized by Congress and is an escalation that risks a wider war with Iran. Mr. Trump risks making a bad situation worse with reckless action.It is essential that we protect American service members and citizens throughout the region while working with our allies to prevent further escalation that could lead to a devastating war that Americans do not want.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts Senator had several statements about what happened.

The first was a tweet that stated:

“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.”

Then after seeing the Sanders reaction, she added:

“Donald Trump ripped up an Iran nuclear deal that was working. He’s repeatedly escalated tensions. Now he’s assassinated a senior foreign military official. He’s been marching toward war with Iran since his first days in office—but the American people won’t stand for it.”

“We’re on the brink of yet another war in the Middle East—one that would be devastating in terms of lives lost and resources wasted. We’re not here by accident. We’re here because a reckless president, his allies, and his administration have spent years pushing us here.”

“All three of my brothers served in uniform. I know the sacrifices we ask of them and their families. Trump’s actions put every service member and diplomat in the region at risk. This is a moment for vigilance—for Americans to speak up and speak out. No more Middle East wars.”

Businessman Andrew Yang

“War with Iran is the last thing we need and is not the will of the American people. We should be acting to deescalate tensions and protect our people in the region. I have signed a pledge to end the Forever Wars. We have been in a constant state of armed conflict for 19 years at a disastrous cost to both our people and our resources. This must end.”

“(I would) restore the historical balance between Congress and the Executive branch concerning military action.”

All the candidates, while agreeing that Soleimani should not be mourned, leveled criticism at Mr. Trump for either:

  • A lack of a coherent strategy.
  • Failure to consult Congress and provide the justification for the attack.
  • Potentially plunging us into another Middle East War.

Other developments have occurred since the Democratic Presidential Candidates issued their statements.

The New York Times has reported that some Administration and Pentagon officials were surprised Mr. Trump chose this extreme option. Apparently, according to sources who spoke to journalists at the Times,  an enraged Mr. Trump, seeing the Iranian backed Iraqi protestors storming the American Embassy after the United States retaliated against Iran for the death of an American Contractor, authorized the targeted assassination of Suleimani in an apparent lack of impulse control.

On January 4, Mr. Trump tweeted that 52 targets (one for each American hostage taken by Iranian’s in 1979 ) have been selected for attack if Iran’s leaders follow through on their promise of revenge.

The Administration also finally gave Congress its formal notification of the airstrike. Speaker Nancy Pelosi commented that the notification, filled with only classified information:

“Raises more questions than it answers (including) serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner, and justification of the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran.”

Others that have already received briefings have also found themselves wondering how much of an imminent threat Suleimani posed.

This country needs a leader that can be trusted when he or she takes action like the targeted assassination Mr. Trump ordered.

Individual One has lied so often and behaved so poorly as President, that no one outside the Trump Zone or Fox Island is inclined to believe him even if it turns out he did make the right decision.

The nation needs a leader who will act prudently and not on a whim. It needs a President that will dispassionately weigh all the options instead of hysterically ordering measures that will plunge the country into more decades of conflict in the Middle East.

The nation needs a leader who will keep the country and its citizens safe.

The American People suffered thanks to the false narrative of weapons of mass destruction and imminent threat before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the previous Republican Administration.

The people need to learn from that history and demand that the Trump Administration fully disclose what the intelligence revealed and what their long term strategy for Iran and safety for the United States is other than daily tweets threatening 52 targets.

American citizens should not fall for another potentially false narrative with regards to Iran and should heed the advice of the Democratic Presidential Candidates that advise caution, consultation, full disclosure, strategic thinking, and the safety of Americans before committing any future acts.

 

 

 

Featured Image from the Wall Street Journal.