by Bob Barr
You can hear it already — calls by congressional Democrats to declare that the manner by which President Trump, as our country’s commander in chief, approved a military strike against Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a known and active operational terrorist leader, should not only be condemned but possibly provide the basis for yet another article of impeachment.
Yes, the partisan hatred of Trump by the Democratic Party, led by its crop of presidential wannabes, appears to be sinking to this level — that our country’s commander in chief was not only wrong in approving the drone strike against Iran’s top terrorist commander based on sound and timely intelligence, but that in so doing he may have committed acts constituting grounds for removal from office.
While none of the Democratic presidential candidates has yet called openly and explicitly for an inquiry of impeachment based on last week’s military action against Soleimani, as a group they have pounced eagerly on the matter in public appearances and in social media statements, openly critical of the military act itself as well as the fact that Trump did not brief congressional Democratic leaders prior to the strike.
The babbling by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the strike that killed Soleimani is easy to disregard; reflecting the ignorance of U.S. law and national security that has become the hallmark of her social media rants. The bloviating by presidential candidates like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, however, are more troubling. Each of them, by virtue of their positions — a former vice president, a sitting senator, and a former military officer — should know better.
They should know, for example, that the “War Powers Act” clearly has no applicability in this situation. Yet, Democrats repeatedly assert or imply that Trump’s failure to inform Congress of the military strike against Soleimani in advance, was a violation of the 1973 law. The law does require prior notification to Congress when a president commits American forces abroad. It never has been interpreted, and never should be interpreted, to require a president to notify Congress before issuing a tactical order against a foreign terrorist leader based on timely and actionable intelligence that he was engaged in active operations against American personnel.
They also should know that the drone strike that killed Soleimani was not an “assassination” of a foreign leader, and not remotely prohibited by U.S. law or executive order. Soleimani was not the leader of a foreign government; he was a designated terrorist actively engaged in planning and executing actions against American personnel and interests. The president had every right to order the strike as he did and when he did. It would have been irresponsible had he failed to act.
The administration briefed key congressional leaders as soon as practicable after the action was taken, and has committed to further briefings. However, there was no obligation or reason to have risked doing so before the strike was ordered — especially considering the hostile environment Trump faces by House leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who has made it his avowed goal to remove President Trump.
Notwithstanding these facts, Democrats continue to assert that the president’s actions were “reckless,” “dangerous,” and “provocative”; all terms they easily could fit within the vague notions of “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress,” which were the bases for last month’s articles of impeachment.
Equally irresponsible has been criticism of Trump’s actions because — as claimed by Warren, Buttigieg, Biden, and others — the president failed to adequately consider “less risky” alternatives and failed to properly assess the ramifications of the course of action he did pursue. Such criticism is specious on its face. In the first place, none of these critics know what options Trump considered and on what intelligence his decisions were based. To presume that Trump either failed to consider relevant options and ramifications, or that he deliberately chose to act irresponsibly in taking the riskiest option, simply confirms the purely partisan nature of Democrats’ criticism.
Not surprisingly, when pressed by the media whether each of these presidential wannabes would have acted similarly against a known terrorist leader actively and immediately engaged in such activities if they were commander in chief, none could bring themselves to answer directly or give Trump even a scintilla of credit. Their all-consuming hatred for Trump has made decision-making cowards of them all.
Bob Barr (http://www.twitter.com/BobBarr) represented Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He currently serves as president and CEO of the https://laweef.org/.