Tell @RepEliotEngel: “Limited Strike” on Iran == “Act of War”
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On Sunday, Bernie Sanders was on Face the Nation. CBS employee Margaret Brennan asked Bernie about Trump’s aborted strike on Iran, and then chastised Bernie for referring to the aborted “limited strike” as “war,” to which Bernie strenuously objected. You have to watch a clip to get the full effect. But here is a transcript of the exchange:
MARGARET BRENNAN: He was just doing a limited strike.
SEN. SANDERS: Oh, just a limited strike - well, I'm sor-ry. I just didn't know that it's okay to simply attack another country with bombs with just a limited strike - that's an act of warfare.
On a normal planet, Bernie Sanders would deserve zero credit for the observation that a “limited strike” is an act of war. Can you get an A in Algebra outside of Lake Wobegon for knowing that two plus two is four? Can you patent the Sun? But apparently Planet Washington is not a normal planet: the top foreign policy Democrat in the House has not yet won this most trivial insight. Here is Eliot Engel, Chair of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, talking to Jake Tapper of CNN the day after the aborted strike:
JAKE TAPPER: "You think the President needs to come to Congress to get the authority to strike Iran if he wants to?"
ELIOT ENGEL: "Oh, absolutely. I think the President needs to come to Congress if ... going to war with Iran. I mean, individual strike, we don't want to tie the President's hands. But in terms of going to war, we're a co-equal branch of government, it's very important that Congress have a say in it."
According to Eliot Engel, Democratic chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, an "individual strike" on Iran does not equal "going to war." If we're "going to war," the President needs to come to Congress for authority, Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and it's very important that Congress have a say in it. But in the case of an "individual strike," the President does not need to come to Congress for authorization, Congress is not a "co-equal branch of government," and it is not very important that Congress have a say in it. In the case of an "individual strike," Congress has no business trying to prohibit,” because that would "tie the President's hands."
This is basically the same worldview that CBS’ Margaret Brennan was trying to push on Bernie Sanders: an “individual” or “limited” strike is a nothingburger, “wafer thin,” not something that Congress should concern itself with.
As an individual, Eliot Engel is entitled to his personal views, like any other American. He voted for the Iraq war, when most Democrats were against it. He voted against the Iran deal, when most Democrats were for it. He voted to keep sending cluster bombs to the Saudi regime to use in Yemen, even after Obama stopped doing it.
But as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel is representing House Democrats to the White House on key issues of war and peace. There was a small classified briefing for “Congressional leaders” in the White House Situation Room on Thursday, the day of the aborted strike. Eliot Engel, as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was at the meeting, supposedly representing the views and interests of House Democrats, not his own personal views. We don’t know exactly what Eliot Engel said or didn’t say in this meeting, because the meeting was “classified.” But we do know that Eliot Engel told Jake Tapper on national TV the next day that an “individual strike” was no big whoop. It’s hard to imagine that Eliot Engel was better than that in the secret meeting.
And this is why it’s urgent that Eliot Engel must change his line on this if he’s going to continue serving as the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and concede that an "individual strike" is an "act of war."
Urge your representatives in Congress to tell Eliot Engel that a “limited strike” on Iran would be an act of war requiring specific prior Congressional authorization by signing our petition.
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