Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin will lead the effort to limit military action against Iran by President Donald Trump.
On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed House members that Slotkin, a former CIA and Department of Defense analyst who served multiple tours in the region, would lead the introduction of a war powers resolution calling for an end to military action against Iran without congressional approval. Pelosi said the resolution is meant to “reassert Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities.” The effort follows the President’s order of a drone strike to kill a top Iranian general last week. Trump has defended the decision to kill Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, saying he was involved in “imminent threats to American lives.”
Pelosi said the killing was a “provocative and disproportionate” act that imperils U.S. military service members, diplomats and others. Iranian officials have threatened revenge in response to the attack. Slotkin, who specialized in Shia militias commanded by Soleimani, said on Friday that when she worked in both the Bush and Obama administrations, taking out Soleimani was considered a number of times and ruled out each time as, “the ultimate ends didn’t justify the means.” Slotkin says that while the Trump Administration has the right to make a different calculation, it must still “come to Congress immediately and consult” and that if military engagement is going to be protracted, which she says any informed assessment would consider, the Administration must request an Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
In a statement released today, Slotkin addressed the fallout from the strike, notably the Iraqi parliament’s vote to expel U.S. troops from Iraq. “I certainly understand why many Americans would question why we’d want to stay, given the blood and treasure we have invested in that part of the world.” She went on to explain, “First and foremost, our presence in Iraq helps ensure that ISIS doesn’t regenerate and regain the ability to threaten the United States, Europe and the Middle East. The second reason to stay is, ironically, the same reason the President chose to go after Qasim Soleimani: to counterbalance Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East.” Slotkin says that if the United States is asked to leave Iraq, “it gives the Iranian government a freer hand in Iraq. That’s a freer hand to exert influence on Iraqi decision-making. A freer hand to continue to expand the capabilities of the Shia militias and Iran’s placement of ballistic missiles in Iraq, which can project violence into places like Saudi Arabia and Israel. This last issue could be a game changer.” She ended by saying that if the U.S. is officially asked to leave Iraq, “we will need robust diplomacy to outline a plan with the Iraqi government that maximizes pressure on ISIS and allows us time to safely withdraw in a way that doesn’t cost the U.S. in blood and treasure.”
The decision to take a vote on the war powers resolution has drawn fire from Republicans. Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox said that, “By trying to limit President Trump’s powers to deal with such terrorists, Nancy Pelosi and Elissa Slotkin are sending a dangerous message to our enemies overseas and turning their backs on the victims Soleimani left in his wake.” (JK)