Are Democrats “against war,” or just against President Donald Trump? Democrats slammed the U.S. killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani as an illegal intervention that risks war in the Middle East. But back in 2011, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democrats supported President Barack Obama’s unauthorized intervention in Libya, Breitbart’s Aaron Klein recalls.
While Republicans praised Trump for taking decisive action to take out an enemy of America, Democrats condemned the killing of Soleimani as a needless and unauthorized provocation that risks starting a catastrophic war. As Trump continues to threaten retaliation against Iran, Pelosi said that Democrats will introduce a War Powers resolution this week “mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days,” the New York Post reported.
Flashback: 2011 Libya intervention
Pelosi sang a different tune back in 2011, when she said she was “satisfied that the president has the authority he needs to go ahead” with a military operation in Libya that ultimately led to the death of Ghaddafi and the violent overthrow of his government. At the time, Pelosi praised Ghaddafi’s downfall as a victory for democracy in cookie-cutter, pro-regime change statement:
Today’s news marks the next phase of Libya’s march toward democracy. After decades of tyrannical rule in Libya, the world is hopeful that the next generation of Libyan leaders will bring their country out of this dark chapter. The strong action taken by the United States, led by President Obama, and NATO, the United Nations and the Arab League proves the power of the world community working together.
Pelosi wasn’t alone, of course — many Democrats supported Obama’s policy, and major newspapers like The New York Times backed regime change in Libya at the time in unhinged, screeching editorials. Years later, Libya is an open-air slave market split by nonstop sectarian strife, and thousands of refugees have been displaced.
Dems struggle to find consistency on war
Obama ended up regretting his intervention in Libya as the worst mistake of his presidency — but in the end, his foreign policy legacy in the Arab world proved to be as avidly pro-war as that of President George W. Bush.
Since Trump took office, Democrats have drifted even further from their anti-war roots to embrace intervention against the malign influence of Russia and its president Vladimir Putin, who they imagine is an omnipresent threat to American interests.
Between an ascendant Russia hawkishness and support for constant intervention in Syria, today’s Democrats are not exactly doves — but the threat of war with Iran, as instigated by President Donald Trump, importantly, seems to have jolted Democrats back to their old-school sensibilities. Democrats appear ready to move on from Obama’s mistakes as they turn to slamming Trump for contemplating “war crimes” by striking “cultural sites” in Iran, Fox reports.
“This is a war crime,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted on Saturday. “Threatening to target and kill innocent families, women and children — which is what you’re doing by targeting cultural sites – does not make you a ‘tough guy,’ It does not make you ‘strategic.’ It makes you a monster.”
Partisan row over Iran crisis
It’s worth noting that Ghaddafi had given up his nuclear weapons in 2003 and, critics say, was not considered a national security threat to the United States when Obama pursued his reckless regime change project. Critics of the Soleimani strike have similarly argued that Iran does not pose an existential threat to the United States, but the Trump administration has said that Soleimani was behind the deaths of hundreds of American troops and was plotting “imminent” threats against Americans when he died.
The leader of the elite Quds force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Soleimani was the mastermind behind Iran’s foreign operations throughout the Middle East and was a national hero in the Islamic Republic. Iran has vowed to avenge him, but it remains to be seen when and how they will retaliate.
The new state of tensions with Iran mark a reversal from Obama’s efforts at rapprochement with the regime, which Republicans have long criticized as a failed effort to appease an unappeasable enemy. Iran announced Sunday that it was pulling out of the remaining commitments to the 2015 Iran deal, completing a deterioration in relations that started when Trump abandoned the accord and slapped sanctions on the regime.
Trump said that his tweets will serve as official notifications to Congress that “should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner.”