Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders denounced President Donald Trump late Thursday night for giving the order to assassinate Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force—calling the move a “dangerous escalation” that brings the United States “closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars.”
In a statement responding to what other critics decried as an “explicit act of war” by the sitting U.S. president, Sanders said, “Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”
Sanders invoked his vote against the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2002 when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the Bush administration’s push for war. “I feared it would lead to greater destabilization of the country and the region,” Sanders explained. “Today, 17 years later, that fear has unfortunately turned out to be true. The United States has lost approximately 4,500 brave troops, tens of thousands have been wounded, and we’ve spent trillions on this war.”
Sanders was hardly alone in his condemnation of what Trump has done by targeting and killing the powerful Iranian military leader—a figure many consider to be the second-most powerful person in the Iranian government behind supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Numerous anti-war voices also spoke out forcefully against the U.S. escalation against Iran by Trump.
“Tonight, Donald Trump has driven us to the brink of war with Iran—and possibly further,” said Stephen Miles, executive director of Win Without War, in response to the drone attack that killed Suleimani and other Iranian military officers with him.
According to Miles, “War with Iran would be disastrous and wholly unnecessary. Military and diplomatic leaders have warned it could bring costs, in both blood and treasure, greater than the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan combined.”
Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), also issued a grave warning. “The last thing the world needs is yet another disastrous American military adventure in the Middle East,” said Abdi in a statement. “The assassination of IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani is a profoundly reckless move that will be viewed as an act of war in Tehran.”
“Iran is a nation of 80 million innocent people,” added Abdi, “most of whom do not want war and oppose the actions of their own government. Similarly, Iraq is a nation of 38 million who deserve peace after lives filled with war. And the American people have seen enough of wars in the Middle East that have no end, only new beginnings. Yet many thousands of innocents in each country will be the victims of a conflict that will be difficult to confine within any one nation’s borders.”
Artist, author, and progressive activist Molly Crabapple characterized what Trump has done as “idiotic, illegal lunacy.”
Win Without War and other peace groups called on U.S. voters to immediately contact their members of Congress in order to avert further escalation and put a check on Trump’s warmongering and illegal behavior.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group CodePink, tweeted: “Let’s be clear Trump is not responding to Iranian aggression. TRUMP IS THE AGGRESSOR. He is the one who tore up the nuclear deal that Iran had agreed to and adhered to. TRUMP IS THE AGGRESSOR. Period.”
Miles made a similar point in his statement. “Make no mistake: Donald Trump is responsible for this crisis,” he said. “Trump entered office with some of the most promising inroads to peaceful relations with Iran in decades. Instead, he proceeded to fill his cabinet with warmongers, abandon the successful, multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and launch a systematic campaign of ‘maximum pressure,’ placing the US and Iran on a collision course to conflict. Now, he has chosen to assassinate, without congressional authorization, one of Iran’s most powerful leaders.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) joined Sen. Tom Udall in calling for their fellow members of Congress to step in and put an end to Trump’s military preemption and constitutional overreach.
Other members of the U.S. Senate also chimed in.
“The president has taken a step that could very well lead to escalating warfare with Iran, and have profound consequences for American security,” tweeted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). “The decision to go to war is given by the Constitution to Congress. The Constitution must be respected.”
And Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) stated, “Trump’s apparent assassination of Soleimani is a massive, deliberate, and dangerous escalation of conflict with Iran. The President just put the lives of every person in the region—U.S. service members and civilians—at immediate risk. We need de-escalation now.”