Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) on Friday joined skeptics of President Trump’s decision to authorize an airstrike on Iranian military commander Qassim Soleimani, suggesting in a series of tweets that the move may further destabilize the region and cautioning the administration against further provoking Iran without congressional approval.
“The question remains whether the assassination of Soleimani will expand the war to endanger the lives of every American soldier or diplomat in the Middle East?” Paul wrote on Twitter.
Paul, who has long been an outspoken critic of U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, painted a stern picture of the high cost of a potential war with Iran.
“A declaration of war is the highest and most awful exercise of sovereignty . . . such a vast and tremendous power ought not to be confided to the perilous exercise of one single man,” Paul wrote, echoing an 1847 speech by Henry Clay.
“President Trump viscerally understands that the toppling of Saddam Hussein made Iran stronger,” he continued. “Soleimani, like Hussein, was an evil man who ordered the killing of Americans. Yet, the question remains, whether his death will lead to more instability in the Middle East or less.”
The senator also made a point to argue that the Constitution required a declaration of war against Iran before any official actions could be taken.
“A war without a Congressional declaration is a recipe for feckless intermittent eruptions of violence w/ no clear mission for our soldiers,” he wrote.
Following the Thursday airstrike that killed Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at the Baghdad airport, the Pentagon said in a statement that the strike was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” and was justified by the death of hundreds of Americans at the hands of Soleimani.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that stance Friday morning, emphasizing the regional disruption Soleimani presided over as a commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the airstrike ordered to kill top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani "saved American lives." Pompeo said earlier this morning the decision to eliminate Soleimani was in response to "imminent threats to American lives." https://t.co/S9VYrZNDv9 pic.twitter.com/RL2eEQfGfq
— CNN (@CNN) January 3, 2020
Joining Paul in calling Soleimani’s death an “assassination” was fellow anti-war Senator Bernie Sanders.
“Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars,” Sanders said in a statement.
“Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”