Statement of Congressman Jamie Raskin on The Killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and the Dangers of War with Iran

January 4, 2020

“The United States of America is a constitutional democracy. We must be governed by the rule of law and formal governmental deliberation or we will be governed by chaos, impulse and whim. The reason the Founders gave Congress and not the president the exclusive power to declare war is because they rejected the practice of monarchs distracting their populations from domestic problems by plunging them into foolish and destructive wars of vanity and political calculation against other peoples who were themselves being misled by monarchs and tyrants of their own. Our Founders opposed the use of military violence as a way to deceive and confuse the public, and they insisted that wars which our people fight must be declared by the people’s own representatives after careful consideration of the costs, the benefits, the risks and the full implications of using violence as an instrument of foreign policy.”

“Obviously no one who seeks peace among nations and human rights will miss Major General Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force who had ample blood on his hands when he died in Iraq in the targeted killing ordered by President Trump on Thursday.”

“But the question is not whether anyone here will mourn a blood-soaked Iranian military figure most Americans had never heard of before our President ordered him to be killed. The question is whether this action was undertaken consistent with our Constitution and rule of law and whether the dramatic repercussions of killing him have been properly weighed and considered by the American people and their representatives.”

“This killing was either an act of war or an assassination. If it was an act of war, it was unlawful because Congress has declared no war against Iran and the President did not involve Congress in any way in the decision-making preceding this action. If it was an assassination, it was unlawful because America — for excellent reasons of both principle and prudence — does not assassinate foreign leaders. We use diplomacy and law to work out our problems and, if we have exhausted the channels of diplomacy and law and must use force instead, it is Congress which must make the fateful decision to go to war. There are hundreds of military and civilian leaders around the world who have innocent blood on their hands today — many of them people President Trump knows well — but they are simply not legitimate targets for state-ordered killing either under our Constitution or under the rules of international law.”

“The whole world now waits on edge for the spiraling and potentially frightful consequences to come as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vows ‘severe revenge’ and the State Department urges Americans to leave Iraq in anticipation of the violent blowback. According to the Washington Post, targets ‘within Iranian reach include U.S. embassies and citizens across the Middle East; shipping in the Persian Gulf; Saudi oil fields; and Israeli cities, against which Soleimani aimed thousands of missiles.’ Was this action, which was apparently ordered from the President’s Mara-Lago resort, undertaken with sober deliberation and analysis of what it will mean for the American people, our allies around the world and our strategic national policy objectives?”

“After two decades of brutal war in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Trump — who campaigned against ‘endless wars’ in the Mideast — now in one fell swoop brings our nation to the precipice of yet another brutal and endless Mideast war. It is one thing to take out, with great media hype, a single vicious ‘bad guy,’ like Saddam Hussein, but it is quite another to commit to spend years or decades afterwards fighting against asymmetric warfare, terrorism and all the other unintended consequences of cathartic but short-sighted targeted killings of foreign military and civilian leaders.

At a time of resurgent tribalism, authoritarianism, religious fanaticism, anti-Semitism and racism, we need the wisest and most thoughtful leadership for America, not reckless impetuosity and folly. We must return immediately to the rule of law and Congress must halt any further escalation of this extremely dangerous situation. We should undertake efforts with our allies around the world to deescalate conflict with Iran and work to avoid the ceaseless horrors of another Mideast war.”

Proudly representing MD’s 8th District. Member of Judiciary, Oversight, Rules and House Administration Committees.

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