'You can already see the consequences to US security': Democrats react after Iraq vote to expel American troops following Trump attack

Senator Chris Murphy and others says president's bypassing of Congress on matters of war is dangerous

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 06 January 2020 16:32 GMT
The rising tensions between the US and Iran explained

Democrats have slammed Donald Trump’s decision to launch an airstrike to kill Iran’s top general, arguing the vote by Iraq’s parliament to expel American troops shows damage has already been done to US interests.

The claim was made by senator Chris Murphy on Sunday, just after the Iraqi vote in Baghdad, where Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani was killed on Friday.

In an interview with CBS News’ Face the Nation, Mr Murphy said that former presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush both decided against launching attacks to kill Soleimani, even though they knew his whereabouts.

“They believed ultimately that would get more Americans killed, and you can already see the consequence to US security in the region,” he said, referring to those past presidents and the Sunday vote in Iraq.

Questioning why it was “suddenly necessary” to take this “dramatic step”, Mr Murphy continued: “We do not generally execute high-level political figures of sovereign nations, in part because we know that that opens a Pandora’s box that may expose American officials to assassination, but also because we know that ultimately that may get more Americans killed, as it likely will.”

The critique of the Trump administration from Mr Murphy is consistent with the reaction from many Democrats in the United States, including Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, who has complained in recent days that the White House did not consult congressional leaders before launching the attack.

“The need for advance consultation and transparency with Congress was put in the Constitution for a reason – because the lack of advanced consultation and transparency with Congress can lead to hasty and ill-considered decisions,” Mr Schumer said on Friday during a speech on the Senate floor.

“The framers of the Constitution gave war powers to the legislature and made the executive the commander in chief for the precise reason of forcing the two branches of government to consult with one another when it came to matters of war and peace,” he continued. “It is paramount for administrations to get an outside view to prevent group think and rash action, to be asked probing questions, not from your inner and often insulated circle, but from others, particularly Congress, which forces an administration before it acts to answer very serious questions.”

Bernie Sanders, a leading Democrat in the 2020 presidential race, has gone as far as to introduce legislation that would block funding for a war with Iran, unless the Trump administration consults Congress and gets explicit approval.

"Today, we are seeing a dangerous escalation that brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East,” Mr Sanders wrote in a statement on Friday announcing the legislation, alongside fellow progressive Ro Khanna, who introduced the legislation in the House.

Soleimani’s killing on Friday was met with swift promises by Iranian officials for revenge, and have led to tens of thousands of protesters and mourners taking to the streets across Iran.

In videos of those demonstrations, protesters can be heard shouting “death to America” as they mourn the figure who has been described in the West as “evil”, but remains a popular figure in Iran.

Among American allies and politicians in the US, officials have been quick to condemn Soleimani’s character, but have expressed concern that Mr Trump’s decision to kill him would have a destabilising effect on the region.

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