Days after being hit with criticism from the left over what some called a milquetoast denouncement of a prospective war with Iran, Sen. Elizabeth Warren issued a hard-lined critique of President Donald Trump’s sudden military escalation in the Middle East.
“Donald Trump is dangerous and reckless,” Warren wrote in a tweet on Friday. “He’s escalated crises and betrayed our partners. He’s undermined our diplomatic relationships for his own personal, political gain.”
In a more impassioned take on the current crisis in Iran, Warren seemed to suggest that Trump’s actions may directly lead the U.S. into another war. “We cannot allow him to drag us back into another war,” she added. “We must speak out.”
You are threatening to commit war crimes. We are not at war with Iran. The American people do not want a war with Iran. This is a democracy. You do not get to start a war with Iran, and your threats put our troops and diplomats at greater risk. Stop. pic.twitter.com/RoXRgb9GsK— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 5, 2020
Warren initially caught flack online for framing her opposition as being to the start of “another costly war,” and not to the continued presence of U.S. troops in the region or to the staggering potential for loss of life the military action carried with it.
The news that the president had summarily ordered the execution of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani on January 3 had left the Democratic presidential contenders scrambling to respond to a foreign policy development that threatens to dramatically alter the stakes of the 2020 presidential election.
In his own Friday statement, presidential hopeful and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was typically anti-interventionist, though both vowed to block any war with Iran going forward.
“We must do more than just stop war with Iran,” Sanders wrote. “We must firmly commit to ending U.S. military presence in the Middle East in an orderly manner. We must end our involvement in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. We must bring our troops home from Afghanistan.”
Other candidates — including former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden — espoused softer rhetoric, conceding that Suleimani had indeed posed a continued threat to American security and that he “deserved to be brought to justice,” as Biden wrote in a statement.
But despite the enduring presence of an American neoliberalism that prizes war when it’s justified, a U.S. military conflict with Iran remains extremely unpopular. According to a national September 2019 University of Maryland survey, three-quarters of Americans — including a majority of Republicans — believe that going to war with Iran would not be in line with U.S. foreign policy interests.
The survey also found that a majority of the public blames the president’s own foreign policy for heightened tensions with the oil-rich country — meaning that if these latest military maneuvers are meant to be a distraction from the impeachment proceedings currently underway in Congress, Trump might have to head back to the drawing board.
Still, Warren’s suggestion about Trump’s intent dug even deeper on Sunday when she asked if president’s killing of Soleimani was an obstruction of Trump’s own impeachment. In NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, she said, “The question is why now? Why not a month ago? Why not a month from now? And the administration simply can’t keep its story straight. It points in all different directions.”
Elizabeth Warren on the Qasem Soleimani strike: “I think that the question that we ought to focus on is why now? Why not a month ago and why not a month from now? And the answer from the administration seems to be that they can’t keep their story straight on this.” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/z1stQEjuOu— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) January 5, 2020
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