By Bernadette DeVito,
Kings County Politics
To the dismay of Democrats across the nation, Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was killed by a U.S. airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump.
The White House claimed on Twitter that the strike was carried out to protect Americans in the Middle East, asserting: “The U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.”
But the move has been criticized by New York City Democrats, who assert the president should have consulted Congress beforehand.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi set the tone for Democratic reactions from the House. In her statement, she suggested Trump put American lives at risk by commanding the strike. Pelosi said, “The administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran. Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress.”
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) mirrored Pelosi’s words in his speech on the Senate floor, saying that the operation against Soleimani was unauthorized. “The lack of advanced consultation and transparency with Congress was put in the Constitution, or rather, the need for advanced consultation and transparency with Congress, was put in the Constitution for a reason: Because the lack of advanced consultation and transparency with Congress can lead to hasty and ill-considered decisions.”
Most House Representatives expressed fear of the consequences following the strike. It was assumed that since Trump failed to consult the House, his administration lacked a plan.
U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-Queens), senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Soleimani a “military mastermind.” He said, “Any action to strike him should have come with serious thought, strategy and congressional consultation. Instead, President Trump’s order to assassinate him is an escalation of hostilities that has no apparent strategy behind it.” Meeks concluded, “Congress must be a check on his reckless posture that puts Americans in danger.”
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-North Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, Queens) shared her stance on Twitter, stating, “The Trump Administration’s airstrike targeting Iranian military officials constitutes a dangerous escalation of hostilities that increases the risk of U.S. involvement in war. I am also deeply concerned by Trump’s failure to consult Congress beforehand.”
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, referred to the event as an “unauthorized military action against Iran.”
She argued that Trump was not making the world safer but leading the U.S. to war with Iran.
“Time and time again, this president has acted recklessly and without strategy, escalating military risk, breaking his own promises, ignoring the precedent of the last two decades of war, disregarding allies and throwing away our diplomatic wins,” Gillibrand said. “This reckless approach to national security and foreign affairs cannot be allowed to continue.”
U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-South Brooklyn, Staten Island), an Army combat veteran and member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, questioned the president’s action and future implications of the strike, but refrained from criticizing the move.
“No one should mourn the loss of Qassem Soleimani who was responsible for hundreds of American deaths and injuries to thousands more—some of whom I know and served with,” Rose said. “We are now faced with incredibly serious questions regarding the intelligence that led to this strike and what the administration’s plan is for what comes next. Let me be clear: No president, regardless of party, has the authority to go to war with Iran without congressional authorization.”
However, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-South Brooklyn, Staten Island) praised the Trump Administration’s hard stance against terrorism. She said the strike at Baghdad Airport ended the bloody careers of those killed.
“This bold strike sends a strong and clear message to ‘bad actors’ around the world; terrorism will not be tolerated by President Trump and his administration and those that commit it will pay the ultimate price,” said Malliotakis,
Amid mounting tensions in the Middle East, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed state public safety and emergency response agencies to increase security at critical infrastructure points, including deploying the National Guard to New York City airports.
“Recent international events are understandably causing some anxiety, and while New York has not received any direct threats, out of an abundance of caution, I am directing National Guard and state agencies to increase security and step up patrols at our most critical facilities,” Cuomo said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said, in a press conference with the NYPD, “None of us knows how this will play out. It will likely take weeks and months, maybe even years, before we see where all of this goes. But we have never confronted in recent decades the reality of a war with a government of a large country with an international terror network at its behest.”