U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said “justified concerns about escalation” linger in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s strike by Iran against Iraqi military bases that house American soldiers, but he defended President Donald Trump’s decision last week to kill an Iranian general.
“I’m firmly convinced of the president’s constitutional authority to defend Americans and American interests against an anticipated attack,” Cornyn told Texas reporters in a telephone news conference from Washington on Wednesday.
“The world is a better place as a result of (Iran Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem) Soleimani’s death.”
Soleimani was killed in a drone attack Friday that was ordered by Trump on grounds that the general was waging an ongoing campaign of terror against the United States and the nation was at “imminent” risk of future attacks.
The general’s death prompted the ballistic missile attacks at al Assad air base in Iraq’s Anbar province and at a base in Erbil in Iraq’s Kurdish region. No American casualties have been reported, and Trump said in an address to the nation Wednesday morning that Iran appeared to be “standing down” following the launching of about a dozen missiles.
Cornyn, a Republican who is seeking his fourth six-year term in November, descried the killing of Soleimani as a “body blow” to Iraq.
“It is my hope that this will bring them to a realization that the only way they are going to be carry on is to enter into negotiations, which will ultimately, as the president said this morning, make sure they never get their hands on a nuclear weapon,” Cornyn said.
“There are justified concerns about escalation, but it appears that the supreme leader “(Ali Khamenei) and others decided better of escalating.”
The dust-up with Iran comes as Trump is facing a coming impeachment trial in the Senate. Cornyn did not link the initial strike that killed Soleimani directly to the unfolding political drama. But he did suggest the confrontation with Iran benefits the president.
“It strikes me the president comes out of this in a very strong place,” Cornyn said. “And Iran and their terrorism aspirations end up being the loser.”
Several of the Democrats seeking to challenge Cornyn in the fall made statements criticizing Trump for provoking the controversy with Iran.
MJ Hegar, a decorated former combat pilot who was wounded in Afghanistan, and state Sen. Royce West of Dallas condemned the missile attack by Iran but urged the president to seek congressional authorization before further strikes.
Organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez tweeted “Americans do not want another war.” Former Congressman Chris Bell of Houston said Americans now live in a “more dangerous world that our President has created.”
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