Amid all the insane things we’ve done in the Middle East for decades, the killing of Soleimani was a very prudent and justified operation. Naturally, that is the event that triggered outrage from Congress and awakened legislators from their slumber on foreign policy.
After years of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars lost in aimless, unaccountable nation-building activities overseas, Democrats and some Republicans are finally asserting congressional control … only over the one “war” the Trump administration deftly avoided. But the social work operations getting our soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue without any congressional oversight. It’s self-evident that the upcoming votes in the House and Senate restricting President Trump’s powers to counter Iran are all about appeasing the one country in the Middle East that actually affects us in the one theater where Trump actually beat the regime with zero American lives lost. It has nothing to do with asserting congressional control over unaccountable wars.
In two weeks, the House will vote on a bill (H.R. 5543) sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., to block funding for any potential operations against Iran. Support is building in the Senate for a similar plan using the 1973 War Powers Act to bar any use of the military to counter Iran. The lead sponsor, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., claims he has 51 supporters for a binding resolution (SJ Res 68) because GOP Sens. Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and Todd Young have agreed to it.
Over the years, in this space, I have railed against these unaccountable and missionless operations refereeing tribal warfare in the Middle East. As the body count mounted every week during Obama’s presidency and then in recent years, I have asked hard questions about why our soldiers are dying. Just two days before the strike on Soleimani, I referred to the Iraq war as a “colossal mistake.” Aside from Sens. Lee and Paul, few of these loudmouths in Congress feigning outrage over the Soleimani strike expressed concern over these wars during that era, and in fact, Democrats consistently voted for defense bills continuing these operations without question.
The president himself has consistently been skeptical of these wars for years and has expressed a desire to leave them in the rearview mirror. But he has gotten no backing from Congress. Quite the contrary. When he decided to leave Syria, which in itself (unlike Iraq) was an unauthorized war, Democrats in Congress held hearings and attacked the president mercilessly. In fact, every single Democrat in the House voted for a resolution condemning the pullout on October 16. Some even said it would boost Iran, which was a bizarre contention given that we were fighting Iran’s and Assad’s Sunni enemies there.