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12 Feb, 2020 20:48

What about stopping endless wars? Trump urges GOP to vote down Iran war resolution because it’s a partisan ploy by Democrats

What about stopping endless wars? Trump urges GOP to vote down Iran war resolution because it’s a partisan ploy by Democrats

US President Donald Trump says the resolution that would block him from using force against Iran is a partisan trick by Democrats, even though he campaigned on a peace platform and some of his closest allies support the proposal.

“We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday, adding that Tehran would “have a field day” if his hands were tied.

“The Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to embarrass the Republican Party. Don’t let it happen!” he urged the GOP majority.

At stake is the Iran War Powers Resolution, proposed by Democrats in the wake of the drone assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad last month. Trump ordered the attack on Soleimani – who headed the international Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – having declared him the “number one terrorist” in the world. 

Iran retaliated by launching missiles against two US bases in Iraq. Official reports at the time said there were no casualties, but the Pentagon has since said that over 100 US troops have suffered “minor traumatic brain injuries” in the bombardment. Both Washington and Tehran refrained from further escalation.

The Democrat-majority House of Representatives, however, seized the opportunity to pass a resolution saying that no offensive action against Iran can be taken without Congressional approval.

Also on rt.com House votes to clamp down on Trump’s power to attack Iran

Under the US Constitution, the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces, but Congress has the power to declare war. It has not exercised that power since WWII, however; the current ‘War on Terror’ is based on two open-ended authorizations for use of military force (AUMF), dating back to 2001 and 2002.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, has sought to revive congressional war powers for years. His party’s efforts to impeach Trump – though ultimately futile – have blown wind into Kaine’s sails. 

His resolution would direct the president “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces for hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran or any part of its government or military, unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force against Iran."

While there’s some merit to Trump’s argument that Democrats are only talking checks on presidential powers because he is president, several Republicans in both the House and the Senate who are normally in his corner have thrown their support behind Kaine’s proposal. 

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) famously “voted his heart” last month, arguing that ending endless wars is actually the platform Trump himself ran on in 2016. Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) share the sentiment, and have said they would vote for Kaine’s resolution once it comes up in the Senate. 

Trump did in fact campaign for pulling out US troops from the Middle East, but has since caved in to the Washington establishment and kept them in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. He has also followed a hard line on Iran, championed by his neoconservative foreign policy advisers.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has opposed the resolution, arguing it “would severely limit the US military's operational flexibility to defend itself against threats posed by Iran.” He cannot block a vote on it, however.

Eight Republican senators supported the motion to begin debate on Wednesday, with the final vote being 51-45. This suggests that Kaine's proposal may well get the support of 51 senators when the final vote takes place sometime on Thursday. Trump has already notified the Senate he intends to veto the resolution, however.

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