Democrats Expect Military To Counter Iran With Hands Tied

Democrats’ Use Of A War Powers Resolution Would Impede Our Armed Forces’ Ability To Take Out Terror Leaders Like Soleimani And Limit Military Options Democrats Once Agreed Were Essential


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “[Taking out Qassem Soleimani] was not some reckless act. It was a calculated and limited response to a significant, growing threat of attack against U.S. personnel in Iraq by an emboldened adversary. Years ago, Soleimani had concluded America was a paper tiger whose people he could kill with relative impunity.  It was a strike designed to stop an escalation cycle we all knew was under way.  To restore deterrence and reduce the risk of war. And yet, when Soleimani’s record of brutality was brought to an end, some Washington Democrats immediately suggested President Trump was leading us into World War III…. But thus far, it appears the Soleimani strike has indeed had the intended effect. As I observed back in January ‘We appear to have restored a measure of deterrence in the Middle East. Let’s not screw it up.’ Well, I’m afraid that’s just what our colleague’s resolution would do. Just as we have successfully sent Iran this strong signal of our strength and resolve, a blunt and clumsy War Powers resolution would tie our own hands.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/11/2020)

  • SEN. McCONNELL: “Until recently, most in this body recognized the need for presidents to have flexibility with respect to the threat of military force. They saw the deterrent effect and diplomatic utility of keeping our options open. During President Obama’s tenure, Democrats said frequently that ‘when it comes to Iran, we should never take the military option off the table.’ But now they seek to use this privileged resolution to do just that. The collateral institutional damage of this action would fall on our military. Its ability to operate quickly and adaptively to emerging threats would be jeopardized…. Clearly, this resolution is not ready for prime time. I believe it is just an effort to broadcast a political message. But even that message can be harmful to our troops and to national security.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/12/2020)


President Obama And Prominent Democrat Senators Used To Say, ‘When It Comes To Iran, We Should Never Take The Military Option Off The Table’

“[President Obama] declared explicitly that his administration would use force — a ‘military component,’ as he put it — only as a last resort to prevent Tehran from acquiring a bomb. … Mr. Obama’s remarks built on his vow in the State of the Union address that the United States would ‘take no options off the table’ in preventing Iran… from acquiring a weapon. But he was more concrete in saying that those options include a ‘military component,’ although after other steps, including diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions.” (“Obama Says Iran Strike Is An Option, But Warns Israel,” The New York Times, 3/02/2012)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “I believe that when it comes to Iran, we should never take the military option off the table. But I have long argued that economic sanctions are the preferred and probably most effective way to choke Iran's nuclear ambitions.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S7390, 12/04/2012)

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): “Look, a president should take action to defend the United States against imminent threat. You have to. The president has to do that. Now exactly what action? You would have to determine what your intelligence was, how certain you were of that intelligence, but you would have to take action.” (Vice Presidential Debate, Farmville, VA, 10/04/2016)

  • SEN. KAINE: “[Hillary Clinton] was part of the national security team that wiped out Bin Laden. Here's her plan to defeat ISIL. First, we've got to keep taking out their leaders on the battlefield. She was part of the team that got Bin Laden and she will lead the team that will get Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS.” (Vice Presidential Debate, Farmville, VA, 10/04/2016)
  • SEN. KAINE: “A punishing sanctions regime did not stop Iran’s nuclear program. The nuclear program will only stop by a diplomatic agreement or by military action. While military action must be an option, it is in America’s interest—and the interest of the entire world—to use every effort to find a diplomatic resolution.” (Sen. Kaine, Press Release, 8/04/2015)

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): “Regardless of whether Congress rejects the JCPOA, discomfort with aspects of the agreement remains across the ideological spectrum. That is why I will introduce legislation backed by supporters and opponents of the deal designed to strengthen the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act and U.S. regional security strategy…. It sets as U.S. policy that Iran will never be permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon and that all options remain on the table, including military options.” (Sen. Cardin, Op-Ed, “Sen. Ben Cardin: I Will Vote Against The Iran Deal,” The Washington Post, 9/04/2015)


Are Senate Democrats Following The Lead Of Some Of Their Presidential Candidates Who Said They Would Not Have Ordered The Strike On Soleimani?

ABC’s DAVID MUIR: “I do want to take this to Vice President Biden next because we know that the Obama administration was aware of the threat that Soleimani posed, so was the Bush administration before it. I'm asking tonight as commander-in-chief though, would you have ordered the strike?”
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: “No.” (Democratic Presidential Debate, Manchester, NH, 2/07/2020)

MUIR: “Senator Sanders, you have called this assassinating a government official. You would not have ordered the strike.”
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): “Look, here is the danger, David. There are very bad leaders all over the world…. You cannot go around saying you're a bad guy, were going to assassinate you, and then you're going to have if that happens, your opening the door to international anarchy that every government in the world will then be subjected to attacks and assassination…. What we have got to do is bring countries around the world together with our power and our wealth and say, you know what? Let us sit down and work out our differences through debate and discussion at the UN …” (Democratic Presidential Debate, Manchester, NH, 2/07/2020)

MUIR: “Given what you know about Soleimani, if your national security team came to you with an opportunity to strike, would Soleimani have been dead, or would he still be alive under your presidency?”
FORMER MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG: “In the situation that we saw with President Trump's decision, there is no evidence that that made our country safer…. It's also the case that if we learned nothing else from the war in Iraq, it's that taking out a bad guy is not a good idea if you do not know what you are doing. This president has moved us this much closer to the brink of war.” (Democratic Presidential Debate, Manchester, NH, 2/07/2020)


Qassem Soleimani Was A Master Terrorist, Responsible For The Deaths Of Americans, Iranians, Syrians, And Many Others Throughout The Middle East

“Soleimani had overseen a network of paramilitaries, militias and terrorist groups across the Middle East and beyond that furthered Iranian interests by often undermining those of the United States and its allies. The Pentagon, for instance, had linked him to the introduction into Iraq of sophisticated roadside bombs that killed hundreds of U.S. troops and wounded thousands more during the peak of fighting there in the mid-2000s.” (“Qasem Soleimani: The Pentagon Had Tracked Iranian General For Years Before He Was Killed,” USA Today, 1/3/2020)

Soleimani took command of the Quds Force [in 1998], and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor, working as a power broker and as a military force: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned Suleimani for his role in supporting the Assad regime, and for abetting terrorism.” (“The Shadow Commander,” The New Yorker, 9/23/2013)

  • “Since [2010], Soleimani has orchestrated attacks in places as far flung as Thailand, New Delhi, Lagos, and Nairobi—at least thirty attempts [between 2011 and 2013] alone. The most notorious was a scheme, in 2011, to hire a Mexican drug cartel to blow up the Saudi Ambassador to the United States as he sat down to eat at a restaurant a few miles from the White House.” (“The Shadow Commander,” The New Yorker, 9/23/2013)

“Soleimani led the Quds, which is designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. and was considered the most powerful intelligence operative in the Middle East, for more than two decades.” (“Who Was Iran's Qassem Soleimani And Why Does His Death Matter?” NBC News, 1/03/2020)

“His track record includes support of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The United Nations had imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on him in 2007, and the U.S. sanctioned him again in response to his alleged involvement in the Syrian war in 2011.” (“Who Was Iran's Qassem Soleimani And Why Does His Death Matter?” NBC News, 1/03/2020)

  • “[I]n Syria, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, Soleimani has had an even more devastating reach. He was a point man for Iran’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and helped shape the Syrian military strategies in a horrific civil war that began with pro-democracy protests in 2011. When peaceful protesters rose up against Assad in March 2011, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, came to his ally’s aid. Iran provided loans, oil and financial assistance to skirt international sanctions. Tehran and its regional proxies, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, also were a conduit for weapons, battlefield training and fighters — all vital support for Assad until Russia sent warplanes and other aid in 2015 to finally tip the scales in Syria’s favor. Soleimani was reportedly the main man in Syria coordinating this all and doing Iran’s bidding.” (“Qasem Soleimani Helped Shape The Brutality Of The Syrian War,” The Washington Post, 1/03/2020)
  • “Soleimani also helped Assad with fighters — a mix that included Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guard, affiliated militia fighters and hired hands from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Soleimani’s role as commander of the Quds Force enabled him to draw from a wealth of proxy fighters, some of whom then received training from Hezbollah operatives in bases in Iran and Syria. ‘To save Assad, Suleimani has called on every asset he built since taking over the Quds Force: Hezbollah fighters, Shiite militiamen from around the Arab world, and all the money and materiel he could squeeze out of his own besieged government,’ the New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins wrote in a 2013 profile. He added: ‘This kind of starkly sectarian atmosphere may be Suleimani’s most lasting impact on the Middle East. To save his Iranian empire in Syria and Lebanon, he has helped fuel a Sunni-Shiite conflict that threatens to engulf the region for years to come — a war that he appears happy to wage.’” (“Qasem Soleimani Helped Shape The Brutality Of The Syrian War,” The Washington Post, 1/03/2020)


‘Everywhere You Look, If There Is Trouble In The Region, You Find Iran’ And Qassem Soleimani

FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES MATTIS: “Everywhere you look, if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran.” (“Indications Iran Doubling Down On Use Of Proxy Forces,” Voice Of America, 5/31/2017)

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, Former CIA Director: “Iran is arguably the largest state supporter of terrorism in the world. Its proxy, Hezbollah, is helping to keep the regime of Bashar al Assad in power in Syria and, as recently as 2006, engaged in a major war with Israel. Iran is seeking regional hegemony, has supported Palestinian terrorism and has also worked to destabilize Iraq. I reported to National Security Advisor Steve Hadley in 2007 that it was the policy of the Iranian government, approved at the highest levels of that government, to facilitate the killing of American and other coalition soldiers in Iraq. More recently Iran has fostered and supported Shia domination in Iraq, a pattern of behavior that has caused Sunni alienation and facilitated the rise of ISIS.” (U.S. House Of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing, 7/14/2015)

2012: “Senior U.S. and Arab officials say it was Gen. Soleimani's idea to harass and bleed American forces for years in Iraq by arming Shiite militias there. The general's elite Qods Force of soldiers and spies oversees Iran's support for groups fighting Israel, including Hezbollah and Hamas.” (“Iran's Spymaster Counters U.S. Moves in the Mideast,” Wall Street Journal, 4/6/2012)

  • “The Iranian-made EFPs first appeared in Iraq in 2005 and for years were the most lethal weapon that American troops faced during the … Iraq war. Unlike the typical improvised explosive devices U.S. troops encountered there, the EFPs used more sophisticated technology and required more skilled milling to produce. Also known as ‘shaped’ explosives, they used curved copper plates to direct or ‘shape’ the bomb blast.” (“Iran Linked To Deaths Of 500 U.S. Troops In Iraq, Afghanistan,” Military Times, 7/15/2015)

2014: “Iran has supplied weapons, money and training to the Shi'ite Houthi militia that seized Yemen's capital in September, as Tehran steps up its regional power struggle with Saudi Arabia, Yemeni and Iranian officials say.” (“Iranian Support Seen Crucial For Yemen's Houthis,” Reuters, 12/15/2014)

2016: GEN. HAJIZADEH, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps: “Iran’s missile program will not stop under any circumstances.” (“Iran Vows To Keep Firing Ballistic Missiles,” The Washington Post, 3/10/2016)

2016: “Iran has stepped up its harassment of U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf, angering the U.S. military ... Since the international nuclear deal with Iran was implemented in early January, the number of incidents involving U.S. and Iranian ships in the Gulf has approximately doubled. The Navy has counted at least 31 interactions with Iranian naval forces deemed ‘unsafe,’ ‘unprofessional,’ or both, according to a defense official.” (“US Military: Iranian Behavior Getting Worse In Persian Gulf,” The Hill, 9/10/2016)

2017: “A former CIA analyst said Monday the Iranians are continuing to help North Korea with weapons technology as Pyongyang's new missile test over the weekend was described as ‘a significant advance.’” (“Former CIA Agent Says Iran Aiding North Korea As New Missile Test Emboldens Pyongyang,” CNBC, 5/15/2017)

  • “‘It was a significant advance in terms of missiles that seem to be able to carry a fairly heavy warhead and carry it a fairly significant distance,’ said Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and now senior vice president for policy and programs with the Center for Security Policy, a national security think-tank based in Washington. At the same time, Fleitz said there's ‘pretty credible information’ that the North Koreans have received help in their missile program from Tehran. ‘It's going in both directions,’ he said.” (“Former CIA Agent Says Iran Aiding North Korea As New Missile Test Emboldens Pyongyang,” CNBC, 5/15/2017)


And In Just The Last Year Iran Was Responsible For An Escalating Series Of Provocations And Attacks On America And Her Allies In The Middle East

June 2019: “The spate of alleged Iranian attacks on oil ships in the Gulf of Oman has raised global fears of a return to the ‘Tanker Wars’ of the 1980s, when oil tankers were regularly targeted and US warships fought cat-and-mouse battles with Iranian forces. Shipping analysts said that [June’s] attack on two oil tankers had sent tensions in the Gulf to their highest point since 1987, when Iraq and Iran began destroying each other’s oil infrastructure … The Tanker Wars ended only after the US deployed its largest naval convoy since the Second World War to protect Kuwaiti oil vessels and after American forces engaged in direct combat with Iranian ships.” (“Attacks On Oil Tankers In Gulf Spark Fears Of Return To 1980s ‘Tanker Wars,’” The [UK] Telegraph, 6/17/2019)

August 2019: “The US blamed Iran [in August] for the shooting down of a US MQ-9 drone over Yemen by a surface-to-air missile, an apparent escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran. The US believes the missile was provided to Houthi rebels by Iran, a US official said … The downing of a US drone by Iran in June nearly led to a US military strike …” (“US Blames Iran After Drone Is Downed In Yemen,” CNN, 8/21/2019)

September 2019: “Iran has activated a chain of advanced centrifuges to speed up uranium enrichment in defiance of a 2015 nuclear accord, a senior Iranian official said Saturday… Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said this week that Iran would set aside the accord’s restrictions on nuclear-related research and development and would expand its use of advanced centrifuges.” (“Iran Now Operating Advanced Centrifuges In Breach Of Nuclear Pact,” The Washington Post, 9/7/2019)

September 2019: “Explosions and towering fireballs struck the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil empire on Saturday in an apparent wave of drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The blows knocked out more than half the kingdom’s oil output for days or more and threatened to drive up already high tensions between Iran and its foes in the Persian Gulf. The predawn blasts on facilities of the state-run oil giant Aramco — which the rebel group claimed were carried out by a fleet of 10 drones — marked one of the most devastating strikes into Saudi territory claimed by the Iranian-allied Houthis in more than four years of war in Yemen. It was also the most serious attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure in decades …” (“Saudi Arabia Oil Output Takes Major Hit After Apparent Drone Attacks Claimed By Yemen Rebels,” The Washington Post, 9/14/2019)

  • “A congressional source says Democrats familiar with the details do not dispute that the attack was carried out by Iran — an important signal of bipartisan agreement … ‘This attack had a level of sophistication we have not seen before,’ the congressional source said. ‘You will not see Democrats pushing back on the idea that Iran was behind it.’ Three U.S. officials said there was extremely compelling evidence showing the origination point of the strikes, and one official with direct knowledge described that evidence as imagery.” (“Attack On A Major Saudi Oil Facility Was Launched From Iran, U.S. Intelligence Shows, NBC News, 9/16/2019)

December 2019: “A U.S. contractor was killed and four U.S. troops were wounded when more than 30 rockets were fired Friday at an Iraqi military base, a U.S. defense official said. … The Trump administration hasn’t said which group is suspected of carrying out the attack. But the U.S. military is focusing on a possible link to Kataib Hezbollah, a Iraqi Shiite militia backed by Iran, the U.S. official added.” (“Rocket Attack in Iraq Kills U.S. Contractor, Wounds Four U.S. Troops,” The Wall Street Journal, 12/28/2019)

December 2019: “President Donald Trump on Tuesday blamed Iran for a breach of the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad, asserting that the Islamic Republic ‘will be held fully responsible’ for the siege on the heavily guarded American facility. … Tensions between Tehran and Washington have continued to play out in Iraq this week, reaching a boiling point in Baghdad on Tuesday as dozens of Iraqi Shiite militiamen and their supporters broke into the American embassy compound.” (“Trump Blames Iran For Attack On U.S. Embassy Compound In Baghdad,” Politico, 12/31/2019)

January 2020: “Iran attacked two bases in Iraq that house American troops with a barrage of missiles early Wednesday, Iranian official news media and United States officials said, fulfilling Tehran’s promise to retaliate for the killing of a top Iranian commander. … Iraqi military officials said that Iran had fired 22 missiles at two military bases in Iraq where American troops are stationed.” (“Iran Fires On U.S. Forces At 2 Bases In Iraq, Calling It ‘Fierce Revenge,’” The New York Times, 1/7/2020)



Related Issues: Iran, National Security, Iraq, Syria, War on Terror, America's Military