US Representative Ro Khanna is constant. The California Democrat become as soon as an outspoken critic of venerable president Donald Trump’s unauthorized exercise of military force in the Heart East, and he without extend objected when President Joe Biden ordered air strikes focused on Iranian-backed militias in Syria on February 25. I spoke with Khanna, a member of the Condo Armed Services Committee and the Peace and Security Activity Force of the Congressional Innovative Caucus, on how Democratic contributors of Congress can contain to serene acknowledge to military actions by a Democratic president. —John Nichols
JN: Why become as soon because it indispensable to discuss up so swiftly and so boldly about Biden’s resolution to bomb Syria?
RK: I had urged myself that I’d are trying no longer to criticize the president in the important thing 100 days. I so desperately desire the president to prevail. It’s crucial for our get together. It’s crucial for our nation. But I didn’t are anticipating the president to remove in bombing the Heart East in the important thing 100 days, either.
I thought it become as soon as so crucial that, early on, Congress take a stand and lay a claim, lay down a obvious marker, that we can no longer proceed the cycle of escalation and bombing in the Heart East that has been counterproductive. No doubt we can’t proceed it with out [the president] coming to Congress for the authorization of military force and attempting to test to work in coalition with the United Countries under global law.
JN: Past the broader suggestions, there had been express concerns with this mission, comely?
RK: This become as soon as no longer an forthcoming risk. It become as soon as no longer that our troops were stationed there and there become as soon as intelligence that, if the president didn’t act, the troops might perhaps perhaps be in ruin’s manner in 24 hours or 48 hours or even in a week. I indicate, this become as soon as a retaliatory risk, and it become as soon as clearly no longer authorized under even a tortured reading of the AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2001].
I indicate, [this strike] become as soon as against Iranian militias in Syria. If the leisure, in Syria, President Obama had tried to test an authorization and had failed, and so the congressional file become as soon as surely against any escalation in the Heart East.
We can’t contain a look that, OK, if it’s a small attack, then the presi-dent has discretion, nonetheless if it’s a easy attack, then the president has to come lend a hand to Congress—on chronicle of small assaults in most cases escalate into easy assaults.
JN: It become as soon as vital that several Senate Democrats raised concerns. Attach you imagine there might perhaps be a bigger notion among Democrats that it’s crucial to discuss up when there’s a Democratic president?
RK: I attain! We seen Tim Kaine, who I specialize in carries substitute weight on chronicle of he’s a really respected verbalize across the ideological spectrum on issues of foreign policy, come out and be severe. We seen Chris Murphy attain that, and Bernie Sanders did that.
I imagine the White Condo took stare. It become as soon as no accident that a pair of days later they’re overtly talking about how we now contain got to contain a brand recent conversation about the authorization of military force in Congress, and that the president supports that and supports Congress affirming its feature. From reporting I learn—and clearly I don’t contain any recordsdata on this—nonetheless the experiences I’ve learn [indicate] that it has given the White Condo quit by manner of additional strikes against the Iranian militia or in Syria. So I specialize in that speaking out early become as soon as vital, on chronicle of it set a tone that the Congress won’t be rolled over by the government branch on issues of war and peace, and that these points are bigger than get together loyalty.
JN: Drawing up a brand recent AUMF is unsafe. Exact effort has to enter defining what is allowed, factual?
RK: Well, John, you hit the nail on the top on what the problem has been. Whenever [US Representative] Barbara Lee builds a stronger coalition to repeal the AUMF, the debate will get caught up in “Well, what’s going to interchange it?” One point that needs to be constant in whatever replaces it’s a sunset provision— that these authorizations shouldn’t last more than, ideally, a term of Congress.