Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said President Donald Trump had “alienated ourselves from our allies” so they do not want to join the United States in a response to Iran’s recent attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East.
Partial transcript as follows:
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good to have you here. You heard Tom Cotton, the senator, and before, that the secretary of state, lay out this case against Iran. You, because you’re on the Intelligence Committee, have been tracking the intelligence as well. Is there any question in your mind that it is Iran and its Revolutionary Guard that is behind these attacks?
SCHIFF: There’s no question that Iran is behind the attacks. I think the evidence is very strong and compelling. In- in fact, I think this was a class “A” screw up by Iran to insert a mine on the ship. It didn’t detonate. They had to go back and retrieve it. I can imagine there are some Iranian heads rolling for that botched operation. But nonetheless, the problem is that we are struggling, even in the midst of this solid evidence, to persuade our allies to join us in any kind of a response and it shows just how isolated the United States has become. Our allies warned the United States, I think our intelligence agencies warned policymakers, that this kind of Iranian reaction was likely a result of a policy of withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Agreement.
And so what we see is a split of the US from our allies and we see Russia and China coming together and having Iran’s back. This is, I think, the worst of all situations and the maximalist pressure campaign has massively failed and only heightened the risk of conflict. For my colleague, Senator Cotton, to advocate that we attack Iran and provoke a war, that there’s no Congressional authorization necessary, I think is exactly the wrong answer on- on both levels. Congressional approval is necessary to initiate hostilities against Iran. We should be trying to corral a response, though, from the international community to protect shipping, to impose sanctions, but because we have so alienated ourselves from our allies, that’s not happening.
BRENNAN: Do you see the risk of- of this getting out of control and escalating further? I mean you hear very clearly from the Secretary of State, the president is not seeking war. Senator Cotton is laying out a very different pathway.
SCHIFF: I think that’s true. Certainly the president has said that he doesn’t want war. But nonetheless, his people, and I don’t know if this is Pompeo or Bolton or both seem to be taking actions to undercut that ambition to stay out of warfare at a time when the president sent a message, apparently through the Japanese prime minister, of an interest in going back to the table to negotiate, Bolton was announcing new sanctions on Iran. Now is that an effort to scuttle the president’s effort to initiate a dialogue? It certainly seemed to have that effect.
But I think the- the whole idea that somehow through this pressure campaign we were going to force Iran to capitulate and say, “okay we’ll come back to the table, we’ll give up everything” was naive- dangerously naive in the first place and this is what our allies are reacting to. This was eminently foreseeable. These attacks on shipping were eminently foreseeable, and the fact that our reneging on the deal hasn’t made us safer is part of the proof. And I- and I think for the secretary to tell you this morning that, “see the flaws in the nuclear deal? Iran can go back to enriching now.” We left the nuclear deal. How is that to make the case that the nuclear deal was flawed? We left the deal and now we’re going to complain that Iran is leaving as well?
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