The Danger of an Erratic Foreign Policy

January 10, 2020

No one is mourning the loss of Iranian terrorist mastermind and military leader Qassem Soleimani, or questioning whether he deserved his fate. Soleimani was responsible for Iranian militias and proxies, and had the blood of American troops on his hands. What remains in question is whether the strike on Soleimani was justified by an imminent threat to U.S interests, and what the administration’s strategy is for dealing with what comes next.

After a week of mixed messages by the Trump administration attempting to explain the strike, it appears there was no imminent threat to U.S. interests, and there is no clear strategy for what comes next. As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria wrote this week in the Washington Post, President Trump does not have a foreign policy – he has a series of impulses. We refuse to accept this erratic and dangerous foreign policy as our new normal, and are ready for change consistent with our values, including principled and thoughtful American leadership at home and abroad.

This past week, we witnessed significant national security repercussions from the Soleimani strike. First, Iran announced it would no longer adhere to restrictions on its nuclear program, clearing the way for the resumption of its enrichment activities. In the aftermath of our walking away from the Iran nuclear deal, this brings Iran even closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Second, Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi airbases, endangering the lives of U.S. troops and personnel. While the retaliatory strikes have stopped for now – and we are incredibly grateful that no lives were lost – the situation remains extremely tenuous.

Third, the Iraqi parliament voted to kick out U.S. troops. If implemented, our military withdrawal from Iraq would give Iran a strengthened foothold across the region, ranging from Tehran to the Mediterranean, allowing Soleimani to achieve in his death what he aimed to achieve while he was alive.

We are deeply concerned, as are the majority Americans, that the strike on Soleimani has made us less safe. We are also concerned, as is a majority of the House of Representatives, that President Trump took such action without the consent of, or consultation with, Congress. We applauded the vote in the House of Representatives to rein in the president’s ability to conduct military operations in Iran without the authorization of Congress, and urge the Senate to take a similar vote next week.We hold close to our hearts the American servicemembers and diplomats, including the 3,000 U.S. troops abruptly deployed to the Middle East this week. At the same time, we know that thoughts and prayers are not enough. We will not shirk our responsibility to speak out, and ensure our voices and values are heard. Join us.

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Shabbat Shalom,

Ron Klein,
Chair, Jewish Democratic Council of America

Halie Soifer
Executive Director, Jewish Democratic Council of America