Rand Paul and Mike Lee Get Iran Policy Right

Jose Nino Comments

Conservative talk radio host Mark Levin recently lambasted senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee for actually abiding by constitutional governance and sound foreign policy.

Levin labeled them “Code Pink Republicans” in their decision, after a January 9th briefing from the executive, to challenge Trump’s use of force in taking out Iranian major general Qasem Solemani.

“The briefing lasted only 75 minutes, whereupon our briefers left,” Lee stated. “This, however, is not the biggest problem I have with the briefing, which I would add was probably the worst briefing I’ve seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.”

Lee continued, “I find it insulting and I find it demeaning to the Constitution of the United States. It’s un-American. It’s unconstitutional. And it’s wrong. …They are appearing before a coordinate branch of government responsible for their funding, for their confirmation, for any approval of any military action they might take. They had to leave after 75 minutes while they were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and not debate this in public. I find that to be absolutely insane.”

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul chimed in noting that the briefing was “less than satisfying” and criticized the administration for using the 2002 Iraq war authorization to justify the airstrike against Soleimani. “I see no way in the world you could logically argue that an authorization to have war with Saddam Hussein has anything to do with having a war with people currently in Iraq,” Paul stated. He also added that this justification is actually “absurd” and “an insult.”

Given his establishment tendencies on foreign policy, Mark Levin was annoyed by the two Republican senators’ remarks. “The War Powers Act of 1973 is unconstitutional,” Levin said during his program. “So to watch Mike Lee and Rand Paul and Matt Gaetz and others act as if it’s constitutional is quite appalling to me.” Levin went on to talk about how Democrats didn’t even care about the act when President Barack Obama was in the Oval Office and used it to carry out military interventions in countries like Libya.

However, Levin yammered on by saying, “So you actually have people, mostly libertarians, misreading the Constitution and the context of the history that they cite, cherry-picking it. The fact of the matter is, you cannot rely on Congress to conduct wars. Congress has tools to stop them, to prevent them, but it cannot micromanage what a president is doing, short of using the power of the purse.”

Levin then labeled Paul and Lee “Code Pink Republicans,” referencing the notorious anti-war organization on the Left. A cheap insult, Levin showed his establishment colors by criticizing these Republicans and pushing his hawkish agenda. It’s no secret that along with the government’s growth in power, we’ve witnessed a concurrent rise in the power of the American executive.

Many of the Founding Fathers expressed skepticism with the concept of standing armies and a powerful executive branch to use those armies abroad as a tool of war, which is why they created a separation of powers in defense affairs. While it is true that the executive branch has extensive powers in national defense matters, it is still Congress which is the only branch of government that can declare war, as Judge Andrew Napolitano recently pointed out.

The killing of Soleimani was not only unconstitutional but a sign of America’s failed policies in the Middle East. Indeed, the U.S. should do what it can to protect its assets and personnel abroad. But it should still keep the bigger picture in mind by making a concerted effort to pull out all troops as soon as possible, so as to avoid sticky situations like the one involving Soleimani.

Neoconservatives are giddy now that they’ve captured a victory against Iran and they’ll try to manipulate the situation to benefit their buddies in the defense industry and those who want to engage in another regime change adventure in Iran. Looking at the bigger picture, the U.S. government’s foreign policy quagmire in the Middle East is one of the most salient features of the modern-day administrative state engulfing the U.S. The 20th century with its introduction of income taxation, central banking, and centralized public administration witnessed a strong shift away from constitutional governance. Foreign policy has not been exempt from this trend, as the United States government has embarked on numerous global democratic crusades that are not too dissimilar to its social engineering at the domestic level.

At this point, let’s dispense with the intricacies of constitutional procedure. Frankly, politicians have completely drifted away from constitutional practices for the past few decades. In situations like these, it’s best that elected officials point out how an Iran conflict would be detrimental to American interests, accelerate the country’s already flimsy fiscal situation, and create massive blow-back abroad.

The least Congress could do is check the executive branch and keep it from getting mired down in another pointless conflict overseas. Nevertheless, there is a partisan play behind Democrats voicing concern over Trump’s latest actions regarding Iran. Not too long ago, these same Democrats were signing off on then-President Barack Obama’s interventions in Syria and Libya. To Lee and Paul’s credit, they are at least arguing from principle. It is refreshing to see politicians who don’t blindly vote with their party on controversial issues such as war.

To stop these endless wars, several individuals will have to break from party ranks. Senators Lee and Paul have answered the call and more politicians should follow in their footsteps.

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