The US executive has suffered a major loss of face in the fractured legislature. Last Friday’s vote in the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives has effectively curbed Donald Trump’s ability to launch an offensive against Iran. In equal measure, the vote affords a breather to the regime in Tehran.
The House has adopted a bipartisan provision that will require the President to obtain Congress approval before authorising military action against Iran. Ergo, invading a country ~ as did Anglo-American forces in Iraq in March 2003 ~ will not be a readily agreeable proposition for an impetuous President’s militaristic agenda. The vote has been convincing ~ 251 in favour and 170 against.
Markedly, 27 Republicans joined the Democrats to approve the sum and substance of the vote. The swing against Trump’s occasionally war-like posturing also underlines the imperative of Congress to take back its long-ceded authority over matters of war and peace from the executive branch.
This, as legislators contend, was imperative in view of the escalation of tensions with Iran. Last month, Trump led the US to the brink of a retaliatory missile strike before suddenly reversing course ten minutes before the scheduled time to act. On Thursday, three Iranian vessels briefly tried to block passage of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
In the context of Trump’s statement last month that he doesn’t need Congressional approval to strike at Iran, the House vote is profoundly critical.
As it turned out, the bipartisan challenge was mounted on Friday by strange ideological bedfellows, notably Representative Ro Khanna, a liberal Democrat, and Matt Gaetz, the President’s strident Republican ally in Congress. The aversion to a clash of shields is palpable across the aisle.
“When this passes, it will be a clear statement from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that this country is tired of endless wars, that we do not want another war in the Middle East,” was the core of Mr Gaetz’s presentation before the amendment vote. It was addressed no less to his “war-hungry colleagues” in the Republican party, who “have already suggested that we invade Venezuela and North Korea and some other countries before lunchtime tomorrow”.
In the wider canvas, the legislature has emitted a signal for peace instead of war, however much it is favoured in Mr Trump’s scheme of things. The world must fervently hope that the hawks have been silenced, both within the presidential administration and the Republican party. “Let them bring their authorisation to use military force against Iran to this very floor. Let them make the case to Congress and the American people.” In the net, the House of Representatives has kept a possible invasion of Iran in abeyance. It will not restrict the President’s ability to respond to an attack, however. There is no indication yet that the House measure will be vetoed.