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War Powers vote on Thursday – Trump's 'Maximum Pressure' yields minimal, yet dangerous results

5 min read
US President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing the White House in Washington, DC for Camp David in Maryland on August 30, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) / ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump’s attempt to rationalize the use of the 2002 AUMF to kill Qasem Soleimani has now failed and Congress is now ready to vote on War Powers resolution(s) and AUMF revisions that are specific to the current possibility of major warfare.

Trump’s strategy has been maximum pressure, minimum results. Trump constantly reiterates that he will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, but it’s closer to that goal now than it was when Trump took office. The US is also closer to leaving Iraq

We should not assume this is the end of Iran’s retaliation for the death of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the fearsome head of the Quds Force. Most likely this is only stage one. Stage two is likely to be a more deniable and costly terrorist, naval or cyber-attack. Senior U.S. commanders will need greater security after the precedent President Trump has established by killing a top general. The Iranians will also continue their political offensive to force U.S. troops out of Iraq. For now, however, the Iranians are eager to give the United States an off-ramp to deescalate.

[…]

…There is a danger now that hubris will follow: Previously cautious in the use of military power, Trump may feel emboldened by the seeming success of his risky gambit — killing Soleimani — to become more promiscuous in the use of force.

But it’s not time to declare “mission accomplished” yet. Contrary to Trump’s Tuesday night tweet, all is far from well. The United States-Iran confrontation, which began when Trump exited the nuclear deal in 2018 and imposed sanctions on Iran in 2019, is far from over. At best we now have a pause that gives room for diplomacy to function. The question is whether Trump will seize the moment.

[…]

There was, alas, scant sign of a diplomatic opening in Trump’s statement on Wednesday, which included an announcement of further sanctions. The dangerous confrontation with Iran is likely to continue, with the Trump administration no closer to reaching its stated goals. Trump may have scored a tactical victory, but a resolution of this crisis remains as elusive as ever.

www.washingtonpost.com/…

Short of calling witnesses not subject to privilege, it now seems more likely that Trump, presented with a major distraction from the Arms for Dirt scandal, chose to divert attention to a conflict with Iran. ‘Imminent threats’ are not necessarily proportional when they appear as targets of opportunity.

Senators introduced a resolution on Wednesday stressing that neither a 2001 or 2002 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) covers a potential war with Iran.  hill.cm/I2iZs8j AUMF: “Whereas, such acts render it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad” The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. 107-40, codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, https://t.co/0sDMQvVr94     https://t.co/j6Zn9JXB8P

The untested precedent is that Soleimani was part of Iran’s IRGC, which Pompeo designated back in April as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), over the objections of the Joint Chiefs. It’s the first time in history we’ve designated another nation’s military as FTO. This is the way the WH rationalized the strike.

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