(CNSNews.com) – Top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani “has American blood on his hands” and has ordered attacks that cost American lives and wounded other soldiers, but President Donald Trump has a failed Iranian policy, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker said Thursday in reaction to news that Trump ordered the airstrike that killed Soleimani.
“First let's be clear. Soleimani has American blood on his hands. He's been involved and ordered attacks that have cost American lives and wounded many of other soldiers. This is somebody who is a bad person, but we also have to look at the larger strategic situation in that area,” Booker said in an interview with MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.”
“We have a president who has had really a failure in his Iranian policy, who's had no larger strategic plan and has made that region less stable and less safe not only for Americans but for other countries, whether it's our ally Israel, whether it's the fact that Hezbollah has now better armed and in fact Syria now has become a super highway for arming those terrorists, whether it's a situation in the Gulf, whether it’s a situation in Yemen and more,” he said.
“And so this is something that facts are still unfolding. We have a lot more to understand whether this met the standards for the authorization of military force. What was the involvement with Iraqis in terms of their strategic objectives and what will the following days be like for the safety and security and the strength of our overall situation right now with Iran?” the senator said.
Host Lawrence O’Donnell asked Booker hypothetically, if the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Barack Obama was still in place and Trump had “not tampered with it, where would be tonight?”
“First of all, understand the president's America First policy is really America isolated, America alone. We turned our backs on having a -- standing firmly with our allies in a strategy with Iran, and we pulled out of that deal. And now Iran has been doing more things to disable that region as well as now violating the original plans, the original part of that deal by heading more quickly towards a nuclear weapon,” Booker said.
“So clearly that was a bad decision and has destabilized the region and has alienated us more so from critical allies we would need in a diplomatic fashion to reduce tensions in that area and this again goes to the fact that this president has no larger strategic plan for that area, has destabilized it, made it less safe and made it a lot harder for us frankly to come to diplomatic conclusions that won't necessitate what it seems like he's going towards is more and more military conflict,” he said.
“Now, if the Iran nuclear deal had stayed in place and we never got to this point, which may be the case this wouldn't have come up. But it is now in front of us as a presidential decision. And I want to put the presidential decision to you. And it's in the first -- it's in the second sentence, actually, of the Defense Department's statement tonight," O’Donnell said.
"They said this: General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. How would you make the presidential decision about what to do about that if that's accurate and if you were accurately presented with information that said General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats? What would you need to make a presidential decision about what to do here, and what would that decision be?” O’Donnell asked.
Booker acknowledged that if there are “imminent attacks” on the U.S., the president has the “obligation” to defend the nation whether at home or abroad, but the senator said Trump did not have the congressional authorization for the use of military force against Iran.
“Let's have no -- no unclarity about this. Let's be resolute and clear. If there are imminent attacks on the United States of America, the president of the united States has a obligation to defend this nation whether it's here at home or our troops abroad. And so again these are statements coming from the Trump White House,” Booker said.
“There's a lot more facts that have to come out to see if indeed this president, who has already done things that have undermined what people on both sides of the political aisle in the Senate have said do not constitute an authorization for the use of military force - again our involvement in Yemen, bipartisan rebuke of that, again his attacks on the Assad regime,” the senator said.
“There are many of us in the Senate that said very clearly that that did not amount to having an authorization of the use of military force. So clearly, there's no question about it,” he said.
The senator called into question Trump’s foreign policy, accusing the president of doing foreign policy by tweet.
“Presidents need to be resolute and strong in defending this nation, but this is a president that again has made this country less safe because a lack of strategy and doing foreign policy by impulse, by tweet against even his generals and his advisers who many of them are finding out about his policy decisions from his social media. This is not a way to run American foreign policy and not a way to create safety, not to mention peace in that region,” Booker said.
O’Donnell asked Booker about Trump’s comments on New Year’s Eve. When asked whether he foresees going war with Iran, the president said he didn’t think it would be a good idea for Iran. Trump said he likes peace and if the U.S. did go to war with Iran, “it would go very quickly.”
“Look where we are right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a president who has had now years of being a president at war, and he has not ended them very quickly. This is a
president who claims to know about military issues than his own generals,” Booker said.
"This is a president who has shown in my opinion from the situation in the Middle East to the situation in countries like El Salvador, Honduras to be an ultimate failure when it comes to foreign policy. He believes the national security threat is Canada, ‘cause he used national security waivers to put tariffs on our Canadian neighbors,” he said.
“So I have grave concerns about the safety of this nation and our ability to stand with our allies to meet our challenges - whether it's nuclear proliferation in North Korea or Iran or even the greatest national security threat we see, to humanity over the next 20 plus years, which is climate change. And again he pulls out of international agreements. This Middle East we have seen is not going to be solved,” the senator said.
“As we know in Afghanistan now with the Afghan papers coming out, we are not going to solve these problems as our own generals are saying with our United States military. There must be diplomatic solutions, and when we had a clear diplomatic plan with our Iran anti-nuclear deal, with multiple nations from China, to Russia, to our European allies, this is a president who turned his back on that, and now we’re seeing the consequences of more instability and unfortunately, more violence,” Booker added.