Blue State Blues: Iran War Powers Resolution a Futile Exercise in Appeasement

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks from the White House on January 08, 2020 in Washington, DC. During his remarks, Trump addressed the Iranian missile attacks that took place last night in Iraq and said, “As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to …
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Senate passed its version of the Iran War Powers resolution on Thursday, a bill that Democrats hastily introduced last month after President Donald Trump’s successful airstrike to eliminate Iranian terrorist General Qasem Soleimani.

Trump’s action was not only constitutional, given his role as commander-in-chief, but was also authorized by prior resolutions on Iraq, which is where Soleimani was when we got him.

Moreover, Trump’s airstrike — which involved no civilian casualties at all — was effective.

Taking out Soleimani meant getting rid of the man who has pursued Iran’s regional terror wars — partly funded by President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal. It also deterred further attacks on our embassy in Baghdad, which an Iranian-backed militia stormed late last year.

In retaliation, Iran fired several missiles at U.S. bases in Iraq, causing some injuries but killing no one. It was a win for the U.S. — as even his critics acknowledged.

Trump’s Iran policy is succeeding precisely because he is willing to use military force.

And that is what Democrats refuse to understand: by showing our enemies that we are prepared to use force, we deter them from taking actions that would require us to use far greater force — at greater risk.

Showing that we are willing to use force also makes our diplomacy more effective. The main reason Obama’s Iran deal was so weak was no one really believed him when he said that the military option was on the table.

The case for the Iran War Powers Resolution is that Trump somehow cannot be trusted to command the armed forces in war. But he has repeatedly shown otherwise — and that is a matter for voters to decide, anyway.

The Senate version of the resolution was introduced by none other than Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 election. If Americans wanted Tim Kaine to direct our foreign policy, we would have elected him.

The few Republicans who have lent their support to this ignominious effort can pretend they were defending congressional prerogatives over war under the Constitution, but those were never at risk.

And Democrats never cared about those powers, anyway. When President Barack Obama went to war in Libya, defying the War Powers Resolution and refusing to seek authorization from Congress, Democrats had no problem with it.

Then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) actually defended him. Asked whether she believed Obama “did not need authorization, initially, and still does not need any authorization from Congress to go in Libya,” Pelosi said, “Yes.”

The Iran War Powers Resolution is purely a political exercise, drafted by Democrats to show defiance to the president in an election year. And the Republicans who voted for it have simply helped Democrats sharpen their message.

Instead of supporting the president as he confronts one of our most dangerous enemies, and as he stands with the Iranian people against their tyrannical government, Congress decided to signal that it does not support the president’s successful approach.

The Iranians will notice, of course, and may believe that it is safe for them to attack Americans again, as well as the protesters in the streets.

Ironically, by purporting to restrain the president from military action against Iran, Congress may therefore have increased the risk of war.

There is no doubt that Trump will veto the resolution. Perhaps that is why some Republicans joined Democrats in voting for it: they believed it was a freebie. They could show that they had opposed the president, without actually changing the president’s successful policy.

But appearances, as we were constantly reminded by Democrats during the impeachment trial, are crucial. And if it was a serious threat to our national security for the White House to withhold aid to Ukraine — temporarily, and out of public view — because of the signal that might send to Russia, it is a far greater blow for Congress to oppose a successful policy against Iran, in public.

President Trump should not just veto the Iran War Powers resolution. He should veto it with 55 pens, and send one to each of the Senators who voted for it, to remind them of what they tried to do at a moment when our president, and the Iranian people, needed solidarity.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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