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Ten Retired High-Ranking Officers Urge Congress to Stop War With Iran


“America's service members and their families would sacrifice greatly in a war against Iran.  That’s why we believe it’s past time for Congress to step in and stop Trump’s constitutionally unsupported march to war.”


WASHINGTON, DC – High-ranking retired members of the military are writing to Congress, today, to urge them to support inclusion of a bi-partisan measure in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prevent first-strike war with Iran.  The letter, signed by ten high-ranking former officers, urges members of Congress to support a measure crafted by Ro Khanna (D-WA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) that would make clear that the president does not have current authority to launch a war with Iran.

The ten warn Members of Congress, in the letter, that “America's service members and their families would sacrifice greatly in a war against Iran…. We know that war with Iran would require hundreds of thousands of American service members to deploy and could result in even larger numbers of American casualties and injuries [than in Iraq and Afghanistan] -- alongside an unknown number of civilian deaths.”

The letter was organized by former Iraq War commander, Retired Major General Paul D. Eaton, senior adviser to VoteVets.  

VoteVets has significantly ramped up activities aimed at stopping “Forever Wars” – those conflicts launched under the 2001 Use of Military Force, passed after 9/11/2001, that continue without end.  Those efforts include heavy lobbying on Capitol Hill, engagement of VoteVets’ 600,000 supporters on the issue, and partnership with former political rivals, the conservative Concerned Veterans for America.  This letter is a continuation of those efforts.

The full letter, including all signatories, is as follows:

Sept 11, 2019

Dear Members of Congress,

In recent months, we’ve watched with dismay as President Trump and his advisers escalate tensions with Iran -- some of them seeming to savor the possibility of an all-out military confrontation with the Iranians.  For outgoing-National Security Adviser John Bolton and his hawkish allies in the Trump Administration, perhaps the costs of war with Iran seem distant and theoretical. As veterans, though, we know this cavalier lack of concern couldn't be further from the truth.  America's service members and their families would sacrifice greatly in a war against Iran.  That’s why we believe it’s past time for Congress to step in and stop Trump’s constitutionally unsupported march to war.  

A full-scale military conflict with Iran would be a huge and costly undertaking.  It’s a lesson we’ve learned before as a nation, at great cost. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us a lot in blood and treasure. We know that war with Iran would require hundreds of thousands of American service members to deploy and could result in even larger numbers of American casualties and injuries -- alongside an unknown number of civilian deaths.

President Trump has made it clear, time and again -- there is no broader strategy to his desire for military conflict with Iran. The idea that we would enter yet another war in the Middle East without a clear national security interest, defined mission, and withdrawal strategy is unacceptable to America's veterans and our allies across the political spectrum.  

War with Iran would also take America’s security and military apparatus away from actual and immediate threats. President Trump's own Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, recently told the Senate that a military confrontation with Iran would "effectively overtake" our military's focus on the more urgent threats posed by China and Russia.  War with Iran would degrade our military's ability to protect the United States against the ever-changing threats we face worldwide. 

After two decades of war, we are grateful to see Congress finally stepping up to meet its duty to authorize the use of military force.  In the National Defense Authorization Act recently passed by the House of Representatives, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna and Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz crossed party lines to lead a bipartisan amendment that would prevent an unconstitutional war with Iran.  They were supported by veterans groups at opposite sides of the political spectrum, VoteVets and Concerned Veterans for America.  

It is crucial that, in the coming weeks, negotiators from the House and Senate work to ensure that this measure is included in the final version of the NDAA. 

For too long, Congress has abandoned its Constitutional responsibility to decide when the President can take America to war against another country.  The men and women of our Armed Forces do their jobs with courage and integrity each and every day. It's past time for Congress to step up and do its job.  

We stand ready to assist.

 

Signatures:

BGen Stephen Cheney USMC (Ret)

MG Paul Eaton US Army (Ret)

BGen Leif Hendrickson USMC (Ret)

RADM Mike Mathis USN (Ret)

MG Eric T. Olson US Army (Ret)

LTG Charles P. Otstott US Army (Ret)

MG Gale S. Pollock US Army (Ret)

Captain Larry Seaquist USN (Ret)

MG Antonio M. Taguba US Army (Ret)

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson US Army (Ret)