Commentary: Sen. Tammy Duckworth: Trump's war games are dangerous; Congress must rein him in
AP

Commentary: Sen. Tammy Duckworth: Trump's war games are dangerous; Congress must rein him in

{{featured_button_text}}
Surrounded by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Donald Trump delivers a statement in the Grand Foyer of the White House in response to Iran firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops, on January 8, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Surrounded by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Donald Trump delivers a statement in the Grand Foyer of the White House in response to Iran firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops, on January 8, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Pete Marovich/Abaca Press/TNS)

"All is well."

That's what Donald Trump said just hours after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops Tuesday in retaliation for the U.S.-ordered killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani the previous week.

That's what he said as thousands of troops are readying to deploy to the Middle East - to a hotbed of anger, where wearing an American flag on your shoulder gets more dangerous by the day. That's what he said as our nation seemed to be careening toward a reckless, unauthorized war of his own making, borne out of his illiteracy in matters ranging from foreign policy to common sense.

A potential global conflict still looms, and it's because of President Trump. It's because he was manipulated once again by a hostile regime into decisions that further their goals while endangering the security of the nation Trump's actually supposed to lead.

As a result, America is drastically less safe.

So no, Mr. President. All is certainly not well.

When I deployed to Iraq in 2004, I saw firsthand just how eager the country was to shake off Iran's influence. Protests that arose then continued long after I flew my last mission, roiling as recently as last month.

Now, after Trump decided to kill Soleimani on sovereign Baghdad soil, those same streets are filled with protesters once more. Yet this time, they're marching in solidarity with the same enemy that hundreds of Iraqis died marching against just a few short weeks ago.

In one fell swoop, Trump managed to villainize the U.S. and victimize Iran, isolating us from our long-term partner in Iraq and amping up Iran's influence in a country everyone knows is vital to our security interests throughout the Middle East.

Iran didn't want Trump to kill Soleimani, but it was hungry for all that has happened as a result, including the swing of public opinion in the region and a new excuse to attack Americans.

We've had the Monroe Doctrine and the Truman Doctrine. Now, we have the Trump Doctrine, in which the leader of the free world gets manipulated again and again by the dictators of hostile regimes.

We've already seen it too many times since he was sworn into office. We've seen it play out on the streets of Venezuela and the deserts of northeast Syria. We've seen him get manipulated by tyrants in North Korea and Saudi Arabia, subjugated by despots in Russia and Turkey.

All these dictators have realized the same thing: The president of the United States is as easy to control as a toddler. Sweet-talk him or thump your chest and issue a few schoolyard threats, and you've got him. He'll fall for it every time, doing your bidding as if it's his own.

I wish this weren't true, but my diaper-wearing 20-month-old has better impulse control than this president. Kids in school cafeterias know not to look up when someone tells them that "gullible" is written on the ceiling. But I'm pretty sure that Donald Trump - a man who once stared directly into a solar eclipse - would be caught stealing a glance, just to be sure.

Sixteen years ago, I was one of the many Americans who deployed to Iraq, willing to sacrifice everything after our then-commander in chief convinced Congress that our nation's security depended on replacing Saddam Hussein's regime with a democracy.

A decade and a half later, we've spent trillions of dollars to achieve that goal; hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed or displaced; thousands of our bravest have died for that goal; tens of thousands more have been wounded.

We did not make all of those sacrifices so that Donald Trump could turn our Iraqi partners into adversaries who now want us out of the democracy we helped build.

Our troops show up, ready to do their jobs, whenever we ask, no matter what. Now, especially after Iran's attacks on our bases in Iraq, we in Congress need to do ours.

We are the branch vested with the solemn duty of declaring war. So we need to exert our constitutional control over this out-of-control president and vote to prevent him from entangling us in another major war without legal authorization from Congress.

In this moment, we need to be doing whatever we can to break the cycle of escalation. We need less chest-thumping and more diplomacy.

I implore my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to recognize our president for who he really is. Trump will never willingly cut the puppet strings that the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un are using to make him dance. We need a strong majority in the Senate to force such action.

Until then, small-time dictators will have access to the world's most powerful marionette - and we will all suffer the consequences.

___

ABOUT THE WRITER

Tammy Duckworth is a U.S. senator from Illinois.

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

0
0
0
0
0

Get Breaking News delivered directly to you.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

Julian Castro announced he was withdrawing from the Democratic presidential primary Jan. 2. Despite a strong progressive record, his campaign never attracted much media attention or voter loyalty. Sen. Cory Booker dropped out Monday, after facing some of the same problems. They leave behind an increasingly white field of candidates. The last presidential debate, in December, included only one ...

Marie Kondo and her theories of tidying up have introduced some conflict into my marriage. I can't be the only one. Her idea is simple: First, pick a category, like clothes; next, put all of them into the middle of the room; finally, pick out and keep only the ones that "spark joy." Setting aside the fact that making time for such a project is enough to make me want to bury my head under one ...

The suicide rate in the United States has grown so much that it's contributing to an overall decline in life expectancy. The economic costs of these deaths run into the tens of billions of dollars; the emotional costs to families and communities are immeasurable. But a new study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests a relatively simple way to reduce the number of people ...

While the rest of us were gearing up for the holiday season, a small group of conservatives was busy cranking up something a good deal less cheerful: a new war on pornography. On Dec. 6, four members of Congress wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr, beseeching him to "declare the prosecution of obscene pornography a criminal justice priority," and "bring prosecutions against the ...

"In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." So began the momentous Christmas broadcast on Dec. 24, 1968 - the most watched television program in history at that time - when astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and Bill Anders read verses from the book of Genesis as they became the first humans ...

Alcohol prohibition became the law of the land 100 years ago - on Jan. 16, 1920 - following ratification of the 18th Amendment and enactment of the Volstead Act. Progressivism played a driving role, with Americans possessed by reformist fervor set to cure the ills of society by banning the manufacture and sale of liquor. Today, progressive reformers are pushing in a seemingly opposite ...

In 1974 President Richard Nixon declared, "At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need." So when President Donald Trump recently said, "We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil," did he finally accomplish what his eight predecessors vowed to do? Not exactly. We're much less dependent on Middle ...

California was not always the progressive state we know today, where political leaders praise diversity and file lawsuits defending immigrants. Its history is filled with clashes over race and identity, including a little-known episode just after its birth. On Sept. 14, 1850, five days after California gained statehood, John Charles Fremont introduced a bill in Congress. Fremont, one of ...

Four years ago, the residents of Denton, Texas, took extraordinary action. In a state known for its ties to oil and gas production, Denton voters overwhelmingly passed a resolution banning the process for extracting natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," within city limits. Neighbors had been complaining about noise and toxic fumes from the nearby drilling sites for years. ...

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News