No Attack on Iran!
Don’t Let the President
Start a World War!
Citizen Donald Trump said in 2011, in tweets and video appearances, “In order to get elected, Barack Obama will start a war with Iran.” Trump repeated that prediction several times in 2012 during President Obama’s re-election campaign.
President Trump may still see political benefit in a new, presidential war, particularly against Iran. Could politics have been a motivation behind the assassinations of the Iranian military leader, General Qasem Soleimani, and Iraqi officials (1/3/20) and the addition of 3,500 or more troops to the region? It brings the total of U.S. troops in the Mideast to nearly 75,000.
Could Trump be using military means also to divert attention from his impeachment, financial scandals, and the like?
The general was among 10 victims in a convoy near Baghdad airport. Trump admits ordering the killings, carried out by drone. (In December, unlawful U.S. air raids across Iraq and Syria had reportedly killed 25 non-ISIS militia men. Days later, militia sympathizers assaulted the U.S. embassy in Iraq.)
Trump has claimed that he wants peace with Iran. If that is true, let him repudiate Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s threat to attack Iran (1/2/20). Such an attack would be criminal—and it could set off a third World War, if Russia got involved, maybe allied with China. With an erratic and impulsive president in the White House, the war could quickly become nuclear.
Congress did not authorize the drone attacks in Iraq, certainly not an attack on Iran. To launch any warfare without prior authorization by Congress violates the Constitution (Article I, Section 8). The Framers sought to avoid warfare commenced in Old-World style—on the whim of a ruler. The claim of some war advocates that the resolution of Sept. 14, 2001, to let Bush Jr. fight the perpetrators of 9/11 allows any war-making decades later is preposterous.
Moreover, aggression—i.e. starting a war—is a major crime under international law. Postwar tribunals prosecuted Nazi and Japanese leaders for it.
Even to threaten war violates our treaty obligations. Under Article 2 of the United Nations Charter—signed in San Francisco—the U.S. and other signatories pledge to refrain from the “threat or use of force” contrary to the peaceful purposes of the United Nations.
Trump promised diplomacy
In a speech in Washington, DC, on April 27, 2016, presidential candidate Trump promised that "war and aggression will not be my first instinct. You cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy."
In the three years of his presidency, war and aggression have indeed been his “first instinct.” Recall his impulsive attack on Syria on April 7, 2017, killing 16 people. Supposedly he ordered it to punish President Assad for using a poison gas weapon—despite the lack of evidence that the latter used or even possessed it. (See “Trump should listen to Trump,” this site 4/14/17.)
Although promising in his first election campaign to be a peace-maker, Trump paradoxically also promised to “bomb the hell out of ISIS.” At one point, he said he would “take out” the families of ISIS members too.
So as president, he has conducted stepped-up, often indiscriminate air attacks with bombs and drone fire—unauthorized by Congress—in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia.
In Yemen, U.S. forces help Saudi-led war planes target homes, markets, hospitals, etc. A resolution approved by Congress to end U.S. support of the Yemen war was thwarted by Trump’s veto in April 2019.
A result of all that belligerency, say major news sources, has been soaring casualty tolls among civilians. Attacking civilians or their undefended communities is forbidden by international law.
We could use the diplomacy that
Trump promised in 2016 now.
In any case, the
United Nations should take up the new crisis.
And Congress needs to say “No!” to any new executive war.
You can contact your two senators and your representative by calling the U.S. Capitol at 202-224-3121; or get other contact info at congress.gov. The White House invites e-mails through https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact.