House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democratic leaders are decrying President Donald Trump’s use of force against Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani without congressional authorization but allowed former President Barack Obama free rein to carry out military operations.
Obama oversaw military actions in both Syria and Libya for months without seeking the approval of Congress.
The Washington Times reported in April 2015 that U.S. strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq surpassed 2,800 by that point in the conflict.
“The U.S. military has been conducting strikes in Iraq for 10 months, and began striking directly at targets in Syria last September as part of Mr. Obama’s announced campaign to degrade the capabilities of the Islamic State,” according to The Times.
By mid-April 2015, the U.S. had carried out 1,458 strikes in Iraq and 1,343 in Syria.
Obama pointed to his powers as commander in chief, as well as the September 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force” resolution passed by Congress, which recognizes, “the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States.”
The Obama administration also relied on the 2002 AUMF resolution calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein as leader of Iraq.
The Times reported that Obama continued his military campaign in Iraq and Syria, even after a new authorization for the use of force against the Islamic State was introduced, but had not been passed by Congress.
While ISIS was certainly a purveyor of terrorism, some of which was directed at the U.S., such was not the case when Obama decided to commit the American military to assist in the toppling of Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
The Washington Post reported in June 2011, nearly three months into the air campaign, that the Obama administration had yet to seek congressional approval.
The president did not comply with the 1973 War Powers Resolution, otherwise known as the War Powers Act, by either obtaining congressional authorization for the military action or pulling U.S. forces out of the conflict within 60 days of committing them.
Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state during the operation, said in October 2011 regarding Gaddafi’s overthrow, “We came, we saw, he died,” mimicking Roman Emperor Julius Caesar’s famous line, “veni, vidi, vici.”
That was then; this is now.
Suddenly with one voice Democrats are concerned that Trump overstepped his authority as commander in chief by green-lighting the killing of Soleimani in Baghdad, just days after our embassy was attacked and Americans were killed and injured by Iranian backed forces.
In a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Sunday, Pelosi wrote that this week that the House will introduce a war powers resolution “mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer charged on Friday that Trump has no authority for a war with Iran.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia have introduced a war powers resolution seeking to block further acts by Trump directed at Iran.
“The resolution requires that any hostilities with Iran must be explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force, but does not prevent the United States from defending itself from imminent attack,” Durbin and Kaine said in a joint news release on Friday.
The Associated Press reported that Trump met “the 48-hour deadline required by the War Powers Act to notify Congress” via a Saturday communication, following Friday’s deadly drone strike on Soleimani, but neither Pelosi nor Schumer was satisfied.
Pelosi responded to Trump’s notification in a news release on Saturday, saying, “This classified War Powers Act notification delivered to Congress raises more questions than it answers.”
“This document prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran,” she continued. “The highly unusual decision to classify this document in its entirety compounds our many concerns, and suggests that the Congress and the American people are being left in the dark about our national security.”
In a Sunday letter to Trump, Schumer called for the immediate declassification of the notice president sent to Congress regarding the Soleimani strike.
All the messaging appears aimed at trying to cast doubt in the minds of the American public that Trump made the right decision to kill the man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and thousands of others.
After all, if Trump is a good commander in chief, protecting Americans, why in the world would the Democrats be pushing forward a purely partisan impeachment, in which they do not allege he engaged in any sort of criminal conduct?
As I have previously argued, one result of Trump’s decisive response to last week’s attack on the United States embassy in Baghdad has been to once again highlight what competent leadership looks like, particularly when compared to the actions of the Obama administration.
Unlike at the Benghazi, Libya, consulate attack in 2012, the call for U.S. military help was answered in a timely fashion. The result was no dead Americans. Further, the Trump administration was clear about who was responsible for the attack — Iran — and what the consequences would be if the aggression persisted.
The tragic result of the Obama administration’s incompetence in Benghazi was the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
Everything that Pelosi, Schumer and their cohort say and do should be viewed through the lens of their one and only objective: to remove Trump from office, whether by impeachment or in November’s election.
Trump made the right call to take out Soleimani, and the Democrats likely know it’s true, but their hypocrisy in the pursuit of political gain knows no bounds.