“The Occupant [of the White House] was JUST impeached for abuse of power for political gain and now he is leading us to the brink of war because he believes it will help his reelection. We are sick of endless wars. Congress has the sole authority to declare war and we must deescalate.” – U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley

The local activist group End the Wars Coalition stands at an intersection in Milwaukee every Saturday to promote the idea of choosing peace and opposing war. On January 4, the promoters of peace took a stand opposed to another illegal and immoral war in the Middle East.

The assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani has ushered in another turbulent decade in the oil rich region. President Donald Trump’s decision to greenlight the assassination of the head of the Quds Force, the paramilitary wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is for all practical purposes a “declaration of war” with far-reaching implications for the region, especially Iraq.

“President Trump campaigned on the idea that we should end these ‘endless wars’ and occupations. Sadly, his actions in Iraq are taking us in the opposite direction. We ask the American people to demand that Congress exercise its constitutional authority over war making, to stop any further acts of war by U.S. military forces,” said Jim Carpenter, chair of the Peace/Conflict Committee of the UNA of Greater Milwaukee.

Fear of another catastrophic war also drove thousands of families in dozens of cities across the United States to the streets to condemn the Trump administration’s “reckless acts of war” against Iran. From New York to Milwaukee and more than 70 other locations, rallies demanded that the U.S. withdraw its troops from the Middle East.

U.S. Representative Mark Pocan also released a statement after the U.S. military’s assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force.

“Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to escalate tensions in the region by assassinating Iranian General Qasem Soleimani without any notification to or approval from Congress is wrong, it will destabilize the region and further endanger the lives of innocent Americans, Iranians, and Iraqis. The President has repeatedly shirked diplomatic priorities in pursuit of military action across the Middle East, and he is on the brink of starting a wholly avoidable and unnecessary war with Iran,” said Congressman Pocan. “Our nation must avoid another endless war in 2020 and the potential senseless loss of millions of lives. This administration must take necessary and decisive steps to de-escalate military action and instead prioritize diplomacy to secure peace in the region.”

The White House has continued to mislead the public in order to justify its actions, taken without the consent of Congress. The killing is widely perceived an attack on the Iranian state. Iran’s proxy attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad earlier this week was a rude reminder of the humiliating 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran that demoralized the Carter administration, and the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that bruised the Obama administration.

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) tweeted: “Qassem Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. It’s good that he’s gone, but this unilateral action further escalates conflict in the Middle East and we need the Trump administration to explain to Congress and the American people their plan to de-escalate tensions with Iran and protect our troops and diplomats in harm’s way. We must prevent another endless war in the Middle East.”

The Trump administration, which feared a repeat of this scenario in Baghdad, claimed its response was meant to safeguard American lives from future attacks, not start war with Iran. Skeptics believe it was meant to safeguard the Trump presidency by deflecting attention from the impeachment during an election year. The assassination is a clear departure from the policy of sanctions, showing Trump’s recklessness to use U.S. military might for his own gain.

U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) responded to the attack with a 3-tweet thread: “There is no doubt that Soleimani was an enemy of the United States and has been responsible for the death of thousands—including many of our own men and women in uniform. However, this Administration’s decision escalated an already tense situation with Iran, bringing us closer to another Middle Eastern conflict—something no one wants – with no clear long-term strategy. Once again, the President is taking military action, without consulting Congress as constitutionally required, or without knowing how Iran will retaliate. If President Trump wants to escalate our military involvement in countries overseas, he must come before Congress, present a clear, thought-out strategy, and make the case to the American people and seek approval.”

U.S. Representative Gwen Moore released a statement back in May 2019 about her concerns over the Administration’s dangerous engagement in saber rattling and and escalation of tensions in the Middle East.

We must learn from the thousands of lives lost, destroyed, or changed by conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the trillions of dollars spent, that wars have unintended consequences that the best prophet or warmongers cannot foresee. It is clear that this Administration has not yet learned those lessons.

There is no question that the reckless military action poses many risks for our nation, Israel, and the entire region. The American People are wary of more U.S. military interventions.

I do not want Iran to develop nuclear weapons. But military force is not the only option and is, in fact, the worst option. That is why I support both sanctions and diplomacy over the years and strongly backed the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal, which addressed the concerns of our nation and the international community about Iran’s troubling nuclear activities.

Yet, this Administration has done nothing but try to eliminate all the other options, including this President’s irresponsible and dangerous decision to rip up the nuclear deal that the previous Administration and international community had worked so hard to put into place. It laid a framework for achieving a verified end to Iran nuclear enrichment activities, get it to comply with its NPT and IAEA obligations, and prevent a volatile region from becoming even more combustable.

As far back as the George W. Bush Administration, when the Cheney/Bolton cabal first started sending aircraft carriers into the region to intimidate, I and other colleagues have been worried about another disastrous war. During the Bush years, I warned that the use of military power would be extremely ill-advised. That warning remains even more relevant today.

It is because of concerns about the efforts of previous Administrations to saber rattle with Iran, that existing law already makes very clear: the President does not have authority to go to war with Iran and needs to come to Congress.

Specifically, Section 1295 of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Public Law 115-232, says: ‘Nothing in this Act may be constructed to authorize the use of force against Iran or North Korea.’ The NDAA is the annual law authorizing all military activities.

The latest military strike was the most fateful action by the Trump administration in the Middle East in the past three years, the blatant assassination of one of the most powerful men in the region. It is impossible to exaggerate the repercussions of this event.