Schumer Floor Remarks On The Trump Administration’s Reckless Foreign Policy And The Need For Answers To Key Questions Following Strike On Soleimani

January 7, 2020

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Trump administration’s reckless foreign policy and key questions they must answer in the aftermath of the strike on Iranian General Soleimani. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks,  which can also be viewed here:

In the aftermath of the U.S. military operation that took out Iranian General Soleimani, we need to be asking the right questions and remain clear-eyed about what might happen next.

I’ve grown increasingly concerned about the strike against Soleimani and what it might mean for the safety of American troops in the region and the future of America’s involvement in the Middle East. The president has promised that he would not drag the American people into another endless war in the Middle East. The president’s actions, however, have seemingly increased the risk that we could be dragged into exactly such a war.

Unfortunately, this contradiction is far too typical of how the president has conducted foreign policy over the last three years. The president’s decision-making has been erratic, its been impulsive, without regard for the long-term consequences of America’s actions abroad. He prefers reality-show diplomacy and photo-ops with foreign leaders to substantive progress. As a result, the president’s foreign policy has been dangerously incompetent. When you look at nearly every hot spot around the globe, he’s made the situation worse, not better.

North Korea—three years after failed negotiations, North Korea remains belligerent, defiant, and intent on developing ICBMs. Syria—after years of sacrifice and struggle against ISIS, one impulsive decision to withdraw our troops risks undoing all of our progress. Russia—every meeting the President holds with Putin always seems to result in Putin coming out ahead. We are now at risk of the situation with Iran heading for a similar deterioration.

The president’s foreign policy actions so far—in North Korea, in Syria, in Russia, and just about everywhere else—can be described in two words: erratic, impulsive. I am worried a few months from now his Iran policy will be described in exactly the same way.

As the president’s circle of advisors has gotten smaller and more insular, as nearly all the dissonant voices have been forced out of the administration, there seems to be no one left to tell the president no. At times like this, skeptical voices need to ask the right questions, and Congress—Congress—must provide a check on the President and assert our constitutional role in matters of war and peace.

In my view, President Trump does not—does not—have authority for a war with Iran. There are several important pieces of legislation by both Senators Kaine and Sanders to limit further escalation with Iran and assert Congress’s prerogative on these matters. Both should receive votes in the Senate.

Also, I plan to ask pointed questions of this administration at a briefing later this afternoon. We need answers to some crucial questions, and there are many. Here are the two that are most on Americans’ minds: what are Iran’s most probable responses to the strike on Soleimani? And are we prepared for each of these responses and how effective will our counter-responses be?

There was some alarming confusion yesterday about the military’s position on the future of U.S. forces in Iraq. What, in truth, does the Soleimani strike mean for the long-term stability of Iraq and our presence there? How does the administration plan to prevent an escalation of hostilities and the potential for a large-scale confrontation with Iran in the Middle East?

These are just some of the questions the administration has to answer. The safety and security of our American troops and of American people are at stake. 

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