Friday, January 3, 2020

Michigan's Representatives and Senators react to drone strike on Iranian General

I asked myself a question at the end of Julian jumps from the plane as Castro campaign crashes: "Now, do I hurry to make new memes for all the remaining candidates for tomorrow's entry, or wait until Booker drops out?  Decisions, decisions."  Well, just as Castro dropping out delayed my National Science Fiction Day entry until later in the day yesterday, the drone strike assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani has postponed an update of the candidate's positions at On The Issues until tomorrow at the earliest.  Take it away, Time Magazine, which reported this morning President Trump Ordered Strike That Killed Top Iran Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Pentagon Says.

The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, at the direction of President Donald Trump.
While I could dissect this action from a number of angles, such as oil prices, cybersecurity, or counterterrorism, all of those would take more time and energy than I want to devote while I'm on vacation, so instead I'm looking at the attack and its aftermath from a Michigan perspective.  To that end, I'm sharing WOOD-TV's MI lawmakers respond to US killing of Iran general.

Michigan lawmakers are responding to President Donald Trump’s ordered airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed Iran’s top general.
WOOD-TV compiled two supportive responses from Republican Representatives, a critical one from independent Justin Amash, and a relatively neutral one from Senator Gary Peters.  I found none of this surprising, as the station serves Grand Rapids, on the conservative west side of the state, Republican will support Trump, Amash supports his view of the Constitution and is generally anti-war, while Peters is a good Democrat but very centrist — I've called him "the ultimate purple candidate" elsewhere — so his "wait-and-see" response doesn't really surprise me, either.

For a more detailed critical response from a Democrat, I had to read Twitter, where Representative Elissa Slotkin made her position known.  Slotkin's office released a press release version of the thread.
“As a former Shia militia analyst who served multiple tours in Iraq and worked at the White House under both Presidents Bush and Obama, and later at the Pentagon, I participated in countless conversations on how to respond to Qassem Soleimani’s violent campaigns across the region,” Slotkin sad. “If you worked on the Middle East over the past 20 years, you dealt with the growing organization and sophistication of Soleimani’s covert and overt military activities, which have contributed to significant destabilization across the region. I watched friends and colleagues get hurt or killed by Iranian rockets, mortars and explosive devices that were provided to Iraqi proxies and used against U.S. forces under Soleimani’s guidance. We watched as his power increased and he brought strength and capability to groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, and to smaller cells around the Middle East and the world, with devastating consequences. We watched what can only be described as a cool war, taking place quietly under the surface of the public eye.”

“What always kept both Democratic and Republican presidents from targeting Soleimani himself was the simple question: Was the strike worth the likely retaliation, and the potential to pull us into protracted conflict? The two administrations I worked for both determined that the ultimate ends didn’t justify the means. The Trump Administration has made a different calculation,” Slotkin added. “The Iranian government has vowed to retaliate and avenge Soleimani’s death, and could do so in any number of ways: against our diplomats and service members or high-ranking military officers, against our allies and partners in the region, or through targeted attacks in the Western world. It is critical that the Administration has thought out the moves and counter-moves this attack will precipitate, and is prepared to protect our diplomats, service members, and citizens serving overseas.”   

“This Administration, like all others, has the right to act in self-defense,” Slotkin added. “But the Administration must come to Congress immediately and consult. If military engagement is going to be protracted -- which any informed assessment would consider -- the Administration must request an Authorization for the Use of Military Force. If the Administration needs additional resources, it will need to come back to Congress to request support. Congress also has a deep interest in the future of our relationship with Iraq, given our investment of blood and treasure there to rid the region of ISIS. Congress needs to understand the Administration’s plan as soon as possible.”
WDIV quoted Slotkin along with Peters and other present and former U.S. Representatives from southeast Michigan in Michigan leaders fear reaction to killing of top Iranian general.  The most anti-war statement came from Rashida Tlaib.
“The drone strike in Iraq ordered by the Trump Administration is yet another reckless action made with no regard for the checks and balances set out by our Constitution. Such provocative actions will put even more lives, both at home and abroad, in danger. We have an entire generation of people and children who have only known a United States at war. We cannot stay silent as this lawless President recklessly engages in actions that move us closer to yet another unnecessary war that will undoubtedly result in more bloodshed. The President is not a king and this is not a monarchy, this is a democracy. Therefore, as a co-equal branch of government and the body with the sole authority to declare war, Congress must clearly say no to war with Iran.”
Tlaib will be a no vote on any Authorization for Use of Military Force.  No surprise there, either.

Along with Slotkin, WDIV quoted Debbie Dingell and Debbie Stabenow, all of whom agreed with Amash that Trump needs an Authorization for Use of Military Force from Congress under the War Powers Act.  I do, too.  The problem is that Slotkin, Dingell, and Stabenow also want to know the Administration's plan.  My worry is the same as the most common response to Slotkin's tweet: There is no plan, at least for prosecuting the conflict.  Instead, this may be an opportunity to "wag the dog," which means it's about impeachment and re-election, not national security.  I hope I'm wrong, but I fear I'm right.

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