Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reiterated Thursday her claim that President Donald Trump used “disproportionate” force against Iran — and not one Capitol Hill reporter asked her to explain what she meant.
Pelosi has been claiming since Sunday that Trump used “disproportionate” force when he ordered the air strike last week against Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, leader of the terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) Quds Force. The airstrike also killed a pro-Iran Iraqi terrorist, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), responsible for recent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
The term “disproportionate” has a precise meaning in international humanitarian law, governing conduct in war. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), “proportionality” prohibits “[l]aunching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.”
Pelosi is therefore claiming that President Trump violated international humanitarian law, and suggesting that he may even have committed a war crime.
Though the attack on Soleimani took place at a civilian airport, there were no reported civilian casualties among the ten Iranian and pro-Iranian military officials who were killed in the air strike.
Some critics of the air strike have disputed the administration’s claim that Soleimani was involved in “imminent” attacks on the U.S. However, the U.S. has often killed terrorists in the past even when far from the battlefield.
The extraordinary spectacle of the Speaker of the House implicating the President of the United States in war crimes, in contradiction of all available evidence, elicited no questions from reporters at Pelosi’s Thursday presser.
Pelosi’s claim about “disproportionate” force serves as the premise for Democrats’ non-binding “war powers resolution,” which aims to restrict the president’s ability to use military force in future confrontations with Iran.
As she ended her press conference, reporters laughed and joked with her about the San Francisco 49ers, who are set to play the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round of the National Football League playoffs on Saturday.
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.