Rand Paul, Mike Lee Are 'Empowering the Enemy' By Wanting To Debate War With Iran, Says Lindsey Graham

The Senate is preparing to vote on a War Powers Resolution that would move to curtail President Trump's military actions abroad.


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) on Wednesday strongly criticized Sens. Mike Lee (R–Utah) and Rand Paul (R–Ky.) after his two Republican colleagues argued that Congress should exercise its role as a lawful check on President Donald Trump's military action against Iran.

"Whether you mean to or not, you're empowering the enemy," Graham told reporters, referring to Lee and Paul's suggestion that the Senate formally discuss the constitutionality and necessity of Trump's decision to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. "We live in the real world here," Graham added.

The South Carolina senator made his comments immediately following a press conference where Lee railed against what he called "the worst briefing [he's] seen on a military issue." During the meeting, Defense Department officials reportedly told members of Congress to fall in line with the Trump administration's course of action.

"What we were told over and over again was that…we can't have division, we can't have dissension within our ranks, within our government, or else it sends the wrong signal to the Iranians," Lee said. "I think that's completely wrong."

Sen. Tim Kaine (D–Va.) today introduced a resolution that orders "the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran or any part of its government or military, by not later than the date that is 30 days after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) introduced a similar measure in the House that will receive a full vote on Thursday.

Lee further said that when lawmakers presented Pentagon officials at the briefing with different potential war scenarios, the officials consistently demurred at going through Congress. "They were asked a number of hypotheticals about situations in which they might have to appropriately come and ask for authorization from Congress," he said. "Not once did they say yes."

After Lee's press conference, Graham sought to dismiss the Utah senator's concerns about the administration's intransigence by saying that Soleimani was a bad guy "by any definition of the law," and that "if we hadn't done something, and Americans had been killed, all of these people would be tarred and feathered."

While no elected member of either party has disputed that Soleimani was responsible for deadly violence across the Middle East, there is bipartisan concern that American military aggression against Iran will further destabilize the area and possibly the wider world. The administration has provided no evidence that Soleimani was plotting an attack on Americans, as Graham and Trump have claimed. New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi, who covers ISIS and the War on Terror, says the idea that he posed an imminent threat was an "illogical leap."

History suggests that House and Senate votes on the Iran question will fall largely along party lines. Whether or not politicians express hawkish or dovish proclivities often depends on whoever is in the White House, but Lee and Paul's anti-war dispositions provide a relatively rare exception to that rule. It was actually Graham who explained it best: "You know, they're libertarians."

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  1. Then is it not also treason to discuss socialism, including the New Deal?

    If that's the best he's got, he oughta just sit down and shut up.

    1. Cry more.

      1. I am honored that you waited for me to comment just so you could contribute even that little. On the other hand, I am disappointed it took you five full minutes to respond.


          1. 4 minutes! You're improving. It is a privilege to be the one you choose to goad you to better efforts.

  2. I’m Pretty sure that the US Armed forces ARE ALREADY Removed ”from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran“ as long as Iran stays TF away from US Troops and Installations.

    1. Correct.
      But if Iranian forces attack in the future, the Ds want to make sure US troops can't shoot back.

      1. That’s never an issue.

      2. Wow. Look at all these pro war "libertarians". Remind me, which branch of government has powers of war?

    2. Iran should leave alone troops at its borders.

      America should leave alone countries on the other side of the world.

      Win win.

      1. Bot or 12 year old? Either way, keep it up kid.

        1. Histroy is a social xonstruct.

        2. Yeah? What would the U.S. do if Iranian troops were just across the border in Mexico or Canada?

    3. Are there any Iranian ships in the Gulf of Mexico? What has Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya done to the US to deserve to be invaded and bombed into the stone age, having over over a million killed? Hitler was demonized for attacking a country, Poland, unprovoked, later called a war crime by the Nuremberg Tribunal. The US so called global "Sphere of Influence" is beginning to look more and more like the English version of "The Sun Never Sets on England." It would seem that rather than using that nasty word "lebensraum", Hitler should have used "Manifest Destiny" or "Sphere of Influence" instead and the allies would have understood him and left him alone to continue his global conquests.
      So what has Iran ever done to the US? Are we really fighting global terrorism or is it a made up excuse, a fabricated pretext to justify global military domination. With over 1000 military bases around the globe, it can be said the sun never sets on the US military. So how is that any different than the English empire of old. The US military is not an independent foreign power. It is the power that represents the United States and Its people. The US constitution does not allow empire, or war against nation that have not attacked the US, but then since when has the US government ever followed the constitution. It's only a feel good piece of paper to placate the naive and gullible masses.

      1. History is a social xonsturct

      2. Oops. Bot.

  3. Ah, well, those libertarians are why we can't have nice things.

  4. Graham sees it. They've been compromised.

    1. Really? The same Republican party that sent a letter to Iran warning against any deal with Obama? That party? And he wants to sit here and lecture?

      That's rich.

  5. I keep saying Trump is a pitbull leading a pack of chihuahuas but I'm reminded that there's at least one French poodle in the back there. Sniffing the other dogs' butts and wishing he could be as macho as the chihuahuas.

    1. Are you calling our troops chihuahuas?

    2. Pit bull with bone spurs. So long as he does not widen any wars, and winds them down, he'll still be preferable to the Democrats.

  6. Well, apparently I missed the big news. Somebody has hacked Paul Krugman's IP address and used it to download kiddie porn. Paul is determined to get to the bottom of this. The hacking, not the kiddie porn. Which he had nothing to do with and wants you to know he had nothing to do with. Just in case you were thinking such a thing. Which I'm sure you weren't.

    1. That guy now has a Master Class on the internet. Unbelievable. As if anyone would pay to hear how he thinks the government should defend against a pretend UFO invasion to boost people’s incomes.

    2. He is also going to find the real killer.

      1. The truth is out there.

  7. I have all kinds of conflicting opinions on this story. A modern President needs to have the real-time ability to react to fast-changing events. This is why the Congressional Declaration of War has become obsolete...and probably also the draft.

    I wouldn't buy stock in Lindsey Graham's long-term future in my home state...his obedient Trump lackeyness assures his six-year reelection in the fall. I don't think he's looking beyond that.

    But, I also disagree with the generic position of 'libertarianism' on foreign, not domestic, policy. American exceptionalism has been enabling. Without the mindset that led to the neocons, we'd be having this online conversation in a basement somewhere, because the US would have been conquered.

    1. "because the US would have been conquered"

      By whom?

      1. By some hybrid of anti-American interests. Formerly-known-as-Communists and Islamists can do a lot of damage if not checked.

        1. Which ones? Be specific, and explain how they could invade and conquer a 3000 mile wide country with the strongest military in the world and a population full of gun owners.

        2. How easily frightened do you have to be to believe that?

        3. And these anti-American forces would be attacking a non-world police force America anyway simply because it’s a very large country. That’s why they are also constantly Brazil, Canada, and Australia.
          They only hate big nations. It has nothing to do with countries sticking their noses into the shitshows these backwards places call their domestic situations.

        4. Is calling you "bedwetter" ableist or otherwise intersectionally forbidden?

        5. Dude, you're paranoid. The commies went belly up bankrupt and the Islamists are technologically and militarily incompetent. Plus, the atheist commies and Islamists don't exactly get along.

    2. A modern President needs to have the real-time ability to react to fast-changing events. This is why the Congressional Declaration of War has become obsolete....

      Strange as it might seem, the people who wrote the Constitution couldn't foresee what our modern society might face but they could foresee that there would be things they couldn't foresee ("known unknowns", you might say) so they included a provision in the Constitution for amending the Constitution in the event that some parts of the document might become obsolete. A modern President needing the ability to react to fast-changing events has been the case at least since the invention of the steam engine, certainly since the invention of aircraft, rockets and missiles, you might think Congress could have found some time in there somewhere to amend the Constitution to deal with the necessities of a modern society and a modern President. Thems the rules, you're not just supposed to wing it on what rules can be ignored and which ones can be re-interpreted and what rules you can just make up on the spot. If you need new rules, there's a rule about how you go about creating a new rule.

      1. That’s why we have the 30 day rule and AUMFs.

        1. Which have shown to be great at constraining a single person from dragging the country into endless wars. Oh wait...

    3. "A modern President needs to have the real-time ability to react to fast-changing events."

      The President has this ability. What is needed is accountability. Are you are saying the President can not be held accountable in todays world. Because I think that is wrong.

      1. Ultimately, accountability is the ballot box, though.

        I don't disagree with the idea of a war powers act, but identifying a specific country (known to be hostile towards the USA and which has actively attacked us as recently as December) as being off limits unless the President jumps through specific hoops is a mistake and just political posturing.

        1. "Ultimately, accountability is the ballot box, though."

          No, our constitution provides checks and balances on each level of government. Congress has a right to ask the President to show why he takes actions and to stop the President if he does not show good judgement in the use of force.

  8. To be sure, Graham is a dandy and warmonger... but he's not 100% wrong here.

    1. Also a turtle.

      Seriously, have you seen the guy. His dad has to be named afyer a famous italian artist.

    2. That's true - I remember when some people were in favor of questioning Hillary Clinton in regards to certain events in Benghazi and Graham was one of the first to denounce Hillary's questioning as giving aid and comfort to our enemies. "What difference, at this point, does it make?" I believe were his exact words.

    3. 99.5%, maybe.

    4. Yes he is 100% wrong. We have a first amendment right to question our government. It is not empowering the enemy its accountability for our leaders.

  9. Oooh... anti-government QAnon supporters vs Trump's butt kissing patrol. Round One. Fight!

    1. Q-anon supporters are Trump's butt kissing patrol. What kind of revisionist history bullshit are you on? At least let events fade from recent memory before you try to rewrite it.

    2. Oooh… adolescent scumbag shows up to prove his stupidity!

  10. What's the thinking here? Trump needs congressional approval for any and all military operations, even defensive operations and strikes, even within Iraq, provided that the combatants involved are Iranian? Congress has the power to "declare" war, certainly, but it does not have the power to hamstring the President's role as commander in chief once hostilities are underway, regardless of whether war has been declared or not.

    I have no idea where they are pulling this purported authority from, because it sure as shit isn't from the Constitution.

    1. The thinking seems obvious to me. They think it's congress's job to micromanage the executive branch.

      1. At least as long as a Republican is in charge of the White House. When it's a leftist Democrat, they'll go back to completely ignoring oversight, same as they did with Obama and Libya (and Syria, and al-Qaeda, and immigration, and corruption, and everything else where he blatantly ignored or violated laws).

      2. The next chapter in the never ending impeachment saga.

      3. Asking for the constitution to be followed is "micromanaging the executive"? There is no AUMF for Iran. Even republican senators are outraged by the thin justification provided for this strike. Get off Trump's nuts for a minute and try to think long term. Do you want presidents to be able to outright commit acts of war against another nation with little to no justification?

        1. //There is no AUMF for Iran.//

          Stop being a fucking idiots. There is an AUMF for Iraq, which is where the strike against Soleimani took place. I find it ridiculous that the goalposts have shifted so far that now killing openly hostile combatants *within* Iraq, provided they are not Iraqis, is somehow a violation of the AUMF *and* the Constitution.

          A ton of ISIS fighters came from far flung places around the world to fight for the caliphate in Iraq. There were Russians, Syrians, Turks, Algerians, and even a formidable contingent of fanatics from Europe, including England.

          By your absurd standard, killing these combatants in Iraq was unlawful.

          This is sheer stupidity. Fuck off.

          1. I agree that your interpretation of the AUMF is equally valid. I'm more frustrated that it has come to this, arguing about a 20 year old document that names a long dead dictator as the primary reason for it. Forever wars have to stop.

            1. I’m more frustrated that it has come to this, arguing about a 20 year old document that names a long dead dictator as the primary reason for it.

              Actually, that's false. The AUMF Against Terrorists (2001) does not specify a particular country and has been used as legal justification for military counterterrorism operations around the globe. It gives the President wide latitude in targeting terrorists and terrorist organizations conducting hostile operations against the United States (a descriptor that clearly fit Soleimani).

              You're discussing the AUMF For Use Of Military Force Against Iraq (2002), which is a different resolution (although also relevant), but the killing of Soleimani would be covered under either or both documents (both of which were passed by Congress and are still active). Your apparent argument that killing Soleimani was somehow invalid because you think the 2002 AUMF doesn't cover it is faulty because it is covered under the 2001 AUMF and the War Powers Resolution.

  11. It’s called rule of law, Lindsay. You might have heard of it.

  12. Remember that time Trump read his number out loud?

  13. There. Is. No. War. With. Iran.

    1. It. Was. Not. An. Assassination.

      1. Whatever it was at least it's over now and we can all just forget it ever happened.

        1. Oh, no! You mean your bullshit about WWIII was just one more helping of your idiotic fantasies?

  14. Congress should pass a resolution ceding all war powers and spending powers to our god-king Trump so that he can use his infinite wisdom to govern as he sees fit and fight wars without constraint.

    1. He could start by kicking you in the teeth.

      1. He could start with rounding up shameless ass kissers like you.

        1. That's fine, as long as you get your teeth kicked in first, or last. At some point. Doesn't matter.

          1. You Trump supporters must lead impotent, unfulfilling lives. You guys always jump straight to the violent fantasies.

            Can't you see you're being manipulated by an age-old technique? Identify an out-group, scare and convince the lower rungs of society that the out-group is an enemy and threat, then use that fear to distract them while you disempower them even more.

            You guys act all surprised when people draw parallels between the rise of fascism and Trump supporters. Well, don't be. It's the same playbook being rerun on you guys, and the rest of us can all see it, plain as day.

            Go to another rally. Chant some bullshit about Mexicans. Maybe cheer a muslim woman getting beat up in the crowd. Get indignant when someone calls you stupid and/or racist. Feel like a victim. Rinse and repeat.

            1. When dealing with idiots, argumentation is pointless. This is why you get abused, Jeff.

    2. That ship has sailed. They had already mostly done that by the time Bush II took office, and the AUMF pretty much sealed the deal. Obama took that into overdrive with his "pen and phone" directives, culminating in the overthrow of Libya.

      If you can attack another country, overthrow their government with military force and not only not declare war, but not even bother to give congress a note saying what you are up to, there is no congressional involvement. That was the moment that congress officially gave up.

      Heck, they abdicated passing budgets during the Obama administration... what is a little military power projection?

      The "unitary executive" isn't a debate any more. They handed that over without a fight... because they wanted to avoid responsibility while still reserving the right to nay-say everything.

  15. Sounds like Lindsey Graham qualifies for the RINO status.

  16. So where does this net out?

    The Congress will discuss and debate our involvement with Iran.
    A resolution may, or may not pass out of the Congress.
    POTUS Trump can veto whatever comes out of Congress.

    So the net here is what?

    There is no chance the Congress will override a POTUS Trump veto.

    1. Trump loses the election in Nov, fingers crossed.

      1. So you can get a president who thinks the only options are either invading and occupying Iran or giving the regime billions of dollars to develop nuclear weapons?

        1. It's mainly to protect and strengthen Obamacare. I don't care about the middle east.

          1. Get a god damned job.

          2. So you'll bankrupt the country, in addition to giving the country, at best, VA-level medical care.

            Biden/Warren/Michele Obama isn't winning this November, and if they did, they couldn't conjure up enough money to make your ideas work. Sorry.

          3. Obamacare was strong enough to annihilate the Democratic Party in state legislatures across the country. If it's any stronger, the Democratic Party would cease to exist.

            Which is probably the only good thing achieved by Obamacare.

          4. "It’s mainly to protect and strengthen Obamacare."

            Pay your own bills, parasite.

      2. ""Trump loses the election in Nov, fingers crossed."'

        It would be interesting to see how Sanders would manage the current wars if he wins. Would Congress throw a fit like they did when Trump started talking about pulling out of Syria? Will liberals claim Sanders is putting our allies at risk if he pulls troops out?

        My guess is that the anti-war left will go back to bed since it's no longer an R in the WH.

  17. This mini-kerfuffle is a prime example of what is wrong with politics in general, but particularly politics as practiced today.

    The notion that there is a "debate" about going to war with Iran sounds good.... Such things should be discussed and debated among our representatives.

    Unfortunately, that is just a word being used for spin in this circumstance. There is no "debate" happening. There is no informative policy discussion, no clash of ideas making our position stronger and more solidly grounded. There is a search for talking points by people who are informed by the immediate feedback of cable news talking head shows, AM talk radio, Twitter rants and Facebook campaigns.

    In particular, notice that the focus of this briefing became "tell us exactly how imminent the attacks were". Why was this the question? The history of this question is revealing. This question did not come from serious policy discussions within the halls of politics.... it came from pundits batting accusations back and forth in the media.

    The immediate reaction in some quarters was to run write a column explaining why this action was illegal. Not wrongheaded, counterproductive or just plain stupid. Illegal. Several versions were floated out there.... labels like "assassination" were applied, talking point justifications were spun into actual justifications, back and forth it went. They settled on "they have to show an imminent threat or this was illegal".

    Now, I don't know if this is even right. I certainly doubt it. But the entire thing played out not in the halls of power, but on the talking head, points-scoring environment of cable news. So instead of trying to inform congress and have a participatory democracy, the administration is playing whack-a-mole with partisan point-scoring barbs.

    They should have been consulting with congressional leaders all along - this is not a one-off as the punditry seems to want to pretend. This has been building since the US started blocking Iranian aid to Hezbollah and other militias in the area - particularly when their supply ship was intercepted. That seems to be what sparked Iran's foray into attacking oil trade in the Gulf of Arabia.

    It would have been nice if the administration had called in congressional leaders and had behind-closed-doors discussions about our strategy and next actions. But they obviously don't feel like that would be either productive or secret. In that case, one response was to order an attack on Iranian bases that launched a drone attack, then call off that attack at the last second. Pretend for a moment that this was a strategy. Is that a strategy that could be discussed with Chuck Schumer and Adam Schiff? Absolutely not. That sort of strategy only works if you don't tell the Iranians. And there is no chance at all that Schumer and Schiff would just sit on that knowledge and do nothing. And even if you fantasize about a world in which they actually would set aside their extreme partisanship for the good of the country in a circumstance like that, there is no way that the Trump administration could possibly trust that they would.

    But because they couldn't do that, we have a nonsensical debate that is completely divorced from anything that is actually happening behind the scenes. That is why congressmen came out of the administration's briefing so frustrated... .and I'm sure the generals giving the briefing are even more frustrated and perplexed. Because the politicians came in wanting to debunk some talking-head punditry points that had nothing to do with anything the generals were dealing with.

    It is fairly clear that the sequence of actions and justifications had absolutely nothing to do with the narrative that has been created out of whole cloth by the likes of Chris Cuomo and Sean Hannity. The zig-zagging line of "it is illegal if there wasn't an imminent threat" to "well, of course there was an imminent threat" to "show us the intelligence reports that prove the threat was imminent... and it had better be just a few hours, not days or weeks!!!" was completely foreign to the generals.

    Their reality was dealing with a network of Iranian-supported militias and terrorist groups working throughout the region, a set of sanctions and enforcement actions designed to cut off aid to those groups, Iranian responses to those actions, Iranian strategies to deal with Iraqi protests against Iranian corruption of the Iraqi government, attacks on US forces and now embassies..... This 24 hour news cycle debate was obviously not part of their world in any way.

    It seems clear to me that what happened with Soleimani is that in the aftermath of the embassy attack we learned that Soleimani was meeting with his Iraqi militia commander and the generals and/or spies pushed for that as a target of opportunity. The administration gathered where Trump was and decided to authorize the strike. It was a one-off opportunity that fit the objectives of the military.

    Now, why isn't anyone pushing this story out? Well, who does it serve? The democrats certainly don't want to hear that. They want to play "gotcha" with a standard that seems to have been invented out of whole cloth on TV over a 36 hour period.

    The administration certainly doesn't love that version. It makes Trump out to be more of a passive player and not the strategist making moves. Probably the only guy who wants to tell that story is the guy who's team found out about the meeting and proposed the air strike.

    But none of the other narratives people are working with make sense. This guy doesn't post his travel plans with the US embassy, so the idea that the Administration secretly wanted to risk a huge war by taking out a top Iranian military leader is silly. There simply isn't time for that.... that narrative is the Gulf War II narrative with the neocons wanting to set up a democracy in the middle east. That's 20 years old and doesn't apply here.

    But everything has become so partisan that nobody wants to be reasonable. Nobody wants to give an inch, because they know that the response will not be reasoned. Trump's team knows that if they say it was a target of opportunity that fit our goals as their official response, the Democrats will immediately start playing politics and claiming it proves he doesn't have a plan.

    The Democrats don't want to say that the Administration gave measured responses to increasing provocations from Iran, because they couldn't possibly set politics aside even long enough to acknowledge that the First Lady did a nice job on the Christmas decorations. They are that hyper-partisan.

    The whole thing is a mess, and a major piece of it is the 24 hour pundit cycle. Before we had any information at all about Soleimani's killing, we had already been through a half-dozen different versions of why Trump was wrong.... just fishing around for a narrative that would stick. It is a really, really stupid way to run a country.

    1. There is no way he can discuss something like this with congress in advance unless you want it leaked to the press....period

    2. Bravo....great post, Cyto.

    3. Well said.

      //The whole thing is a mess, and a major piece of it is the 24 hour pundit cycle. Before we had any information at all about Soleimani’s killing, we had already been through a half-dozen different versions of why Trump was wrong…. just fishing around for a narrative that would stick. It is a really, really stupid way to run a country.//


    4. Good call, cyto, as usual

    5. Cyto is showing more reason than the staff of Reason.

    6. Very well put, Cyto...excellent argument.

    7. They really should give Binion's job to you, Cyto. Not that you'd want it. Great post.

      1. They should eliminate Binion's job, as well as the job of several senior editors, and then start over from scratch with Cyto as one of their writers.

        Unfortunately, I don't think Cyto is willing to toe the Koch "libertarian" line quite enough for Reason's tastes, and Charles Koch is who pays the bills.

    8. Well written. But what is telling to me is that several Republican senators have broken ranks with the president and declared their outrage at how half-assed the briefing was after the fact to justify the strike.

      I'm glad the dude is dead. And it looks like this might be the end of it, so well played Mr. Trump. But we should not be further empowering the executive or getting more and more comfortable with a president unilaterally taking us to war. This could have easily gone the other way, and become an unending spiral of escalation leading to war. This was an assassination. This was an act of war against a country that there exists no AUMF for. we should be demanding accountability, especially if senators from the president's own party are saying it stinks. We should still have the debate.

    9. Your posts on this topic have been an excellent read.

      I'm sure killing Soleimani has been on the table as a military objective for some time, but the confluence of location, opportunity, and proximity to recent attacks were more important than anything else.

      But, in this political climate, nobody can say that.

  18. Before doing anything we everyone should think those matter.

  19. Before doing anything we everyone should think those matter.

  20. Reason, circa 1943: "There was no justification for targeting Admiral Yamamoto. True, he killed thousands of Americans but the Roosevelt Administration has not provided any evidence another Pearl Harbor- type attack was imminent. This was vengeance, not deterrence. "

    Yes, I know WWII was a declared war and this is not. But just because you haven't declared war on an enemy doesn't mean he hasn't declared war on you, and it's silly to pretend otherwise just because a feckless Congress refuses to officially sanction the event.

    1. It doesn't matter if it was a declared war. It happened in a designated war zone where hostilities by American forces are authorized by Congress, Quds is an officially designated terrorist organization, Soleimani was the head of said terrorist organization (and several of the people he was meeting with were also members of that group), the President and the intelligence community made an assessment that there was an imminent threat (in a situation with an extremely small window to act), and the President had full authorization (by laws passed by Congress) to take him out.

      It is absolutely equivalent to killing Admiral Yamamoto. And the President made the right call.

  21. It's extremely rare that I agree with Lindsey Graham on anything involving foreign policy, but the fact that I do on this issue indicates how far around the bend I think Lee and Graham have gone on the Iranian situation.

    The Iranians have been attacking us and other countries around the Persian Gulf (and the world) since the 1970s. It's not about Trump and it's not about the intelligence's about how the Iranians believe they're allowed to act. They don't care about negotiation with us (except to the degree that it gives them what they want) and they aren't interested in a normalization of relations for the sake of peace.

    Their goal is force and control of the Persian Gulf as a means by which they can export their brand of Islam to the world, and the only thing they understand from their opponent is force. Force was the only reason they eventually gave in on the hostages during the crisis in 1980...when Carter stopped dealing with them like they were another Western nation operating along the same lines of reason as the U.S. They see negotiation without force as a sign of weakness to be exploited.

    I get that Lee and Paul don't want another Iraq and are reasonably skeptical of intelligence assessments after what happened with the Iraq War. But the President isn't talking about invasion here...he greased a guy who was the head of an officially designated terrorist organization, while he was working with other members of that organization in a different country from his own. These facts are not in dispute (by anyone who actually bothers to look at the facts), the President isn't looking to invade Iran over this, and his actions were fully within the letter of the law on the War Powers Resolution and the AUMF.

    It's a stupid hill for Paul and Lee to choose to die on by siding with Democrats. They're preventing no catastrophes and they're merely feeding the opposition party's bogus political narrative.

    1. This is an argument for going to war with Iran. It's not an argument for conceding to the president the sole authority to determine whether we do so.

      All that Lee and Paul (and the Democratic leadership) are arguing for is that we can't trust Trump to make this decision on his own. Going to war with Iran is too big of a decision, with too many potential consequences, to leave to any president, much less one with a reputation for lying to the American public and Congress and for impulsive decision making.

      That's all that Pelosi's resolution is about. It doesn't say that Trump can't defend Americans from an Iranian attack. It doesn't even say that Trump can't attack Iran. It just says that he has a short window to get congressional approval to prosecute a prolonged military initiative. That's completely appropriate, and anyone asserting otherwise is completely insane.

      1. This is an argument for going to war with Iran.

        No, actually, it's an argument for retaliation when Iran engages in attacks on Americans or American interests and not turning a blind eye to it in the hopes that they someday decide to just be nice on their own. That can be achieved via containment and selective sanctioning. You're extrapolating that to say I'm making a case for a full invasion and war with Iraq, but that's only because you're intellectually dishonest and don't really care what argument anyone else is making as long as you can parse words to piss all over it.

        All that Lee and Paul (and the Democratic leadership) are arguing for is that we can’t trust Trump to make this decision on his own.

        No, what they're pissy about is that the military didn't brief them on the specific intelligence methodologies and sources used to come to the decision on the attack, which wasn't provided to them because the Democrats leak everything to the press to try and make Trump look bad. Paul and Lee need to wake up and realize what environment they're playing in. Also, the intelligence community is not required to disclose sources and methodologies to the committee. All they needed to know was whether Soleimani was a threat to the United States and had engaged in hostile actions, which made him eligible for targeting under the War Powers Resolution and the AUMF. He did and he was...end of discussion, and if Rand Paul doesn't like it, that's just tough shit.

        They're also (stupidly) trying to equate it to the Bush administration botching all of the intelligence on Iraq WMD as a case for going to war, which is a ridiculous leap because a) it's not in question that Soleimani was engaging in terrorist activities against us and b) the Trump administration wasn't arguing that we should go to war and didn't exceed the authority granted to the President by the War Powers Resolution and the AUMF. They may disagree with his decision to kill Soleimani, but that's their personal opinion and not an overreach or abuse of authority on the President's or the military's part.

      2. That’s all that Pelosi’s resolution is about. It doesn’t say that Trump can’t defend Americans from an Iranian attack.

        Actually, yes it does, because it demands the President run all military actions by them for approval unless it fits in a narrow criteria that can be selectively interpreted by members of Congress to amount to an impeachable offense if the Congress disagrees with the President's decision-making as Commander-in-Chief in an authorized war zone.

        Congress has the authority to approve the military to engage in general operations in a war zone (e.g. the AUMF) or to declare war. They don't get a say in how the Commander-in-Chief executes that war, so long as the President is not violating any laws (which he didn't in killing Soleimani). And you'd have to be either a partisan shill or stupid to claim Pelosi's resolution is anything but an attempt to exert authority by the Speaker to extend Congressional authority into an area the Constitution clearly reserves as executive authority.

  22. Isn't that the whole debate? That the "lawful" check on the commander in chief commanding our military is not in fact lawful?

  23. Incidentally, anyone else notice that Reason has published zero about the Iranians shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet and then covering it up by trying to blame "mechanical issues"? That was from their "for show" strike on al-Asad.

    But Orange Man Bad, so America is the only bad guy here in the eyes of Reason, and the Iranians are the victims.

  24. I appreciate the sincere passion Mr. Graham displays in defending the USA. Someone please issue him an M-16 and put him on the front lines immediately - it is quite apparent he wants to go there!

    Warmongering piece of shit...

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