Andrew Schoerke: End Trump's 'authority' to attack Iran

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Veterans For Peace is becoming increasingly alarmed about the mounting evidence that President Trump intends to attack Iran. In his 2019 "State of the Union Address," President Trump stated: "My administration has acted decisively to confront [Iran] the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism." He acted even more decisively when the New York Times reported, on April 7, that he was designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard "a foreign terrorist organization."

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is especially open to an attack by President Trump since it has a long history of Mideast violence, including the sponsoring of militias aiding Syrian President Bashar al Assad, the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. It has also been documented that it was responsible for the deaths of over 600 U.S. troops during the Iraq war. Since the Islamic Republic of Iran is a theocracy ruled by the Shia branch of Islam, a major concern to the U.S. are the 5,200 U.S. military personnel stationed in Iraq which has a Shia population of over 60 percent. On May 7, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Baghdad and told the Iraqi President, Barham Ahmed Salih, that he was responsible for the safety of all Americans in Iraq.

VFP's alarm about an attack on Iran was heightened when Pompeo, testifying before a Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee left open the possibility of starting a conflict with Iran without seeking congressional approval, telling the Senators "there is no doubt there is a connection between Al-Qaeda and Iran." When pushed by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to commit that the Trump administration would not attack Iran under the Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF), Mr. Pompeo "demurred," saying "he would prefer to leave that to lawyers." Many may recall that the AUMF was enacted following the 9/11 Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center; it "grants the President the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force against those whom he determined planned, authorized, committed or aided the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups."

It has been a year since President Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal and began a series of ever stringent sanctions against Iran including barring international financial transactions, denying the trading of Iranian oil on world markets and preventing the import of critical consumer goods. In response to President Trump's actions, on May 8, Iranian President Rouhani announced a partial withdrawal from parts of the "Nuclear Deal," including stopping the export of enriched uranium and to begin enriching uranium to a higher level than permitted under the deal. Adding to an already destabilizing situation, the New York Times reported (May 6) "... three United States officials cited new intelligence that Iran or its proxies were preparing to attack American troops in Iraq and Syria." Almost simultaneously, The Pentagon ordered the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, four B-52 bombers and a Patriot missile defense battery to deploy to the Mideast.

Veterans For Peace has alerted all chapters about the increasing possibility that the Trump administration may initiate an attack on Iran. Since the AUMF may serve as his justification for the attack and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has historically blocked any vote to repeal it, it is imperative that Senator Patrick Leahy (phone, 202-224-4242) and Senator Bernie Sanders (202-224-5141) take immediate public action to get the AUMF repealed.

Andrew Schoerke is a retired Naval officer and an active member of the Will Miller Green Mountain Chapter 57 of Veterans For Peace. He writes from Shaftsbury, Vt. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.

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