The Trump administration’s killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a military strike in Baghdad is a dangerous escalation that has further destabilized the Middle East and put America on the path to direct war with Iran. Soleimani was a despicable man, responsible for operations that targeted and killed Americans; but by taking this reckless action, the Trump administration has put more Americans at risk.
America is not safer in the aftermath of this strike, and the Trump administration does not appear to have a plan for what comes next.
The Trump administration has offered conflicting justifications for this action—among them, that it was acting in self-defense. Regardless of the justification, this attack was not a wise or legitimate way to defend U.S. personnel. The administration has taken repeated steps that have only escalated tensions with Iran. It has done so without adequately informing Congress or the American people of its intentions, the basis for its decisions, or its plans for dealing with Iran’s likely responses. Congress needs to be fully briefed on the factual and legal basis for this strike. As the voice of the American people, with constitutional responsibilities regarding the use of military force, congressional leaders—not just a few Republicans hand-picked by President Donald Trump—need to be part of the discussion on how America responds in a way that protects the country and its citizens overseas.
The fact that the United States is sending more troops to the Middle East is a sign that Trump’s maximum pressure approach was already a failure even before this latest action created new risks to U.S. interests. This latest move, which is already being condemned by some of our allies, has created a more dangerous world overnight. Indeed, the stunning lack of support from our allies is deeply worrying. When America goes it alone in the world, our actions are far more precarious. We and our interests are far less safe.
The main focus moving ahead should be on how to de-escalate tensions with Iran to avoid a disastrous war. The government must take steps to protect U.S. forces and personnel from retaliation by Iran. This requires a stronger focus on diplomacy, including with our European allies, and security cooperation with Iraq’s leaders to defend U.S. personnel in that country.