Early in the morning of January 3, the United States assassinated the second most powerful person in Iran, Qassem Soleimani, with a drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport.
Soleimani was the head of Iran’s secretive Quds force (think a combination of the CIA and U.S. Special Forces). He was largely considered the top military mind in the region, with an astonishing 82 percent favorability rating in a survey last August. Iran has called the attack “an act of state terrorism” and vowed “harsh revenge.”
In the hours and days following the attack, a familiar pattern has unfolded across the media. A revolving door of hawks are taking turns getting unchallenged airtime to claim the attack on Soleimani would be “celebrated” and that “the people in Iran will view the American action as giving them freedom.” And there have been the usual limp responses from Democrats.
Let’s be clear: assassinating the second most powerful person in a country we are not at war with is an act of out-and-out warmongery. Imagine how the U.S. would respond if Iran drone-striked Mike Pompeo at JFK International.
The attack on Soleimani is only the latest escalation of aggression towards Iran that began when Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. Yet the responses from Democrats have fallen far too short.
What’s needed is a unified, full-throated denunciation of this absolutely unjustified and almost certainly illegal attack.
Virtually all of the Democratic contenders for the presidency have prefaced their statements on Soleimani with some version of “Let’s be clear, Soleimani was indeed a bloodthirsty terrorist.” Only Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard made no attempt to soften the edges of their anti-war stance by first justifying the Pentagon’s depiction of Soleimani.
Former Vice President Joe Biden even seemed to endorse the attack in his statement, saying Soleimani “deserved to be brought to justice for his crimes against American troops and thousands of innocents throughout the region.”
Pete Buttigieg, the now-former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, cited the need to consult “stakeholders in the Middle East” before “engaging in military action.” Other Democrats centered their complaints around authorization, and former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine went on MSNBC to essentially complain about paperwork, saying “we should only go to war with Iran if there’s a congressional vote pursuant to the constitution.”
This thin-lipped, consultant-speak mewling is not going to stop a war with Iran. What’s needed is a unified, full-throated denunciation of this absolutely unjustified and almost certainly illegal attack. There is absolutely no proof — none — that Soleimani was busying preparing for an “imminent” and “sinister” attack on U.S. interests, as our extraordinarily dishonest president has claimed.
Meeting the unhinged impulses of those who control the world’s largest war-machine with an unequivocal anti-war stance should not be difficult, especially since we’ve been here before — in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other disastrous entanglements. The writing is on the wall, Democrats need to learn how to read it.
This is simple: No War with Iran. If you’re a party for the people, you must be an anti-war party. No War with Iran.
Do not make this about process. Do not soften your resistance with a feeble endorsement of Pentagon talking points. Do not waste any of your breath or precious airtime saying anything other than No War with Iran.