After President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, lawmakers have been split on whether they agree with how the president is handling the situation.
The divide among Ohio lawmakers has fallen mostly along party lines.
Trump ordered a drone strike on Soleimani, which killed him Jan. 3. Soleimani was in charge of the Iranian Quds forces, which primarily conducts unconventional warfare. The Quds forces have been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and other countries. They have supported other groups that have been designated as terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah.
Soleimani also played a role in helping forces combat American troops during the Iraq war. He has recently been accused by the United States of plotting attacks against American bases and soldiers. Soleimani is generally viewed popularly in Iran. After he was killed, Iran launched missile strikes on American bases in Iraq, but there were no casualties.
On Wednesday, Trump announced new sanctions on Iran, but said that he is willing to embrace peace, rather than war.
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican from Ohio, commended Trump’s actions in a statement.
“Today [Wednesday], President Trump demonstrated real leadership and a forceful resolve in the face of Iranian aggression,” Johnson said. “He made it clear that he prefers de-escalation, but that the United States will always defend itself, our people, and our allies. However, he made crystal clear what the whole civilized world knows: Iran can never have a nuclear weapon.”
In a news conference on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup from Ohio also praised the president’s actions. Wenstrup is an Iraq war veteran.
“Let’s make no mistake about this and about what occurred in the last few days. This was a defensive strike against a terrorist,” Wenstrup said. “A terrorist that worked against Americans and has American blood on his hands … To those who play politics with this, with this defensive action of Americans and American interests, and to those who say this is an overreaction, it’s an insult to the American lives lost. It’s an insult to those who have been maimed and permanently damaged. And it trivializes the American lives that have been spared by this action to take out a terrorist that was ready, and willing, and prepared to act to kill more Americans."
Some Democrats were more critical.
“President Trump’s order – done without clear authorization from Congress and without consulting appropriate congressional leadership – was a provocative attack that I fear will lead to an escalation of tensions with Iran,” Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Democrat from Ohio, said in a statement. “Soleimani was undoubtedly responsible for the deaths of countless military and civilian personnel, yet retaliation from Iran may end up putting more American lives at risk. Even now, thousands of more U.S. troops are being deployed to the Middle East.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, also criticized the president.
“We can’t let this Administration’s chaotic foreign policy lead to another war in the Middle East,” Brown said in a statement. “The U.S. must do all it can with our allies to de-escalate the situation.”
Trump had initially said that he might target historical cultural sites in Iran, but has since backed off that threat.