(CNSNews.com) – Democrats including 2020 presidential candidates weighing in on the killing of IRGC Qods Force commander Major-General Qassem Soleimani accused President Trump of “dangerous escalation.” Republicans welcomed the end of a man blamed for the deaths of hundreds of American troops.
“Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden called the airstrike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad “a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region” and disputed the Pentagon’s assertion that the goal was to deter future Iranian attacks.
‘[T]his action almost certainly will have the opposite effect,” he said in a statement.
Biden also said no American would mourn Soleimani’s death. “He deserved to be brought to justice for his crimes against American troops and thousands of innocents throughout the region.”
But he accused Trump of having “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox,” adding that “he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked, “did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”
That brought a strong pushback from Republicans.
“This tweet is simply drunk partisanship,” said Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse in response to Murphy’s remark. “Gen. Soleimani has killed hundreds and hundreds of Americans, and was actively plotting more. This commander-in-chief – any C-in-C. – has an obligation to defend America by killing this bastard.”
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), a former U.S. Navy SEAL, also hit back at Murphy: “Someone let the Senator know that these men just got done directing attacks against our embassy & K1 facility.”
“This was clearly a response to aggression & a deterrent to future attacks, well within current authorization. It’s a great day for the fight against evil in this world.”
(K1 is the base near Kirkuk which Qods Force-backed Iraqi militias attacked with rockets on December 27, killing an American civilian contractor. The Pentagon said overnight that Soleimani had orchestrated that attack, among others targeting coalition forces in Iraq.)
“Qassem Soleimani masterminded Iran’s reign of terror for decades, including the deaths of hundreds of Americans,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). “Tonight, he got what he richly deserved, and all those American soldiers who died by his hand also got what they deserved: justice. America is safer now after Soleimani’s demise.”
Cotton is a U.S. Army veteran with combat service in Iraq. U.S. commanders hold Soleimani and Qods Force responsible for the deaths of at least 500 U.S. troops in Iraq.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted: “FICTION: Trump ordered the assassination of a foreign “General” and as a result has placed us on the brink of war. FACT: Soleimani was an active enemy combatant, more dangerous than evil men such as Bin Laden & Baghdadi & who operated without regard for the law of war.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called Soleimani’s death “welcome and long-overdue justice for the thousands of Americans killed or wounded by his Iranian-controlled forces across the Middle East, and for the hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Iraqi Sunnis ethnically cleansed by his militias. It is also long-overdue justice for our Israeli allies who have suffered decades of terrorism at the hands of Hezbollah terrorists commanded by his IRGC Quds Force. The message to all those who mean harm to America is loud and clear.”
Independent Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), a former Republican, was among those concerned about the constitutional authorization issue.
“There’s a reason our Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war: Every American may be intimately affected by a violent conflict,” he tweeted. “Soleimani was evil. But our system demands consent for war from the people, acting through their representatives and senators in Congress.”
And Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) offered this take on the night’s dramatic developments:
“So what if Trump wants war, knows this leads to war and needs the distraction? Real question is, will those with congressional authority step in and stop him? I know I will.”