EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
According to President Biden, the air strikes he launched against Iran-backed militias in Syria on Feb. 25 were designed to send Iran a message: “You can’t act with impunity. Be careful.” But the strikes also sent a disturbing message to Americans: Barely a month into Biden’s presidency, the Middle East quagmire is already undermining his much-advertised commitment to a “foreign policy for the middle class” that will end “forever wars” and focus on “existential” threats such as climate change and on rebuilding America’s strength at home.
The strikes immediately sparked a congressional uproar, rekindling the debate over presidential war powers. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who had helped spearhead efforts to curb former president Donald Trump’s warmongering, called on lawmakers to hold the current administration to the same standards, requiring congressional authorization for “retaliatory strikes not necessary to prevent an imminent threat.” Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) echoed that view: “Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances.” Progressives in the House led by Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) promised to revive the effort to curb presidential war-making.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) underlined the true import, releasing a statement that he was “very concerned” that the action “puts our country on the path of continuing the Forever War instead of ending it.… This is the same path we’ve been on for almost two decades.”
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.