WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers in the Democrat-led House of Representatives held their first hearing Tuesday on the U.S. strike that killed a top Iranian general.
After Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s death, ordered by President Donald Trump, Iran fired missiles at a base housing U.S. forces in Iraq. There were no casualties. The next day, Trump said Iran appeared to be standing down.
“Just because Soleimani was evil and just because killing him may have been legally justifiable does not make it wise,” Richard Haass, formerly the director of policy planning at the State Department, testified at Tuesday’s hearing before a House committee.
He said the U.S. strike likely made matters in the Middle East worse.
“(Soleimani’s) killing interrupted what I believe were useful political dynamics in both Iran and Iraq,” he said.
Following the strike, the U.S. ordered new sanctions against Iran. Iran, meanwhile, has promised to resume its nuclear weapons program. Iraq has threatened to oust U.S. troops from its borders.
“Given where we are today, we desperately need to invest in diplomatic efforts” with NATO allies to avoid an all-out war, testified Avril Haines, who was a deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama.
The Trump administration said talks with NATO are progressing and it is working to keep troops in Iraq.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was invited to testify Tuesday, but declined. He is in California.
“It’s really egregious,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said. “It’s his job to show up and respond.”
Duckworth, a veteran of the war in Iraq, said the Trump administration is not being transparent about what led up to the attack or how it plans to ease tensions in the Middle East.
“I don’t know how we move forward, and in fact, I’m asking the White House, ‘What are your strategies? What are your plans?’ And they have none,” she said.
Meanwhile, Republicans say Democrats are blowing the conflict out of proportion.
“All the doomsday scenarios that my friends have predicted have not come true yet,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said.
Democrats say they may resort to subpoenaing Pompeo to get the answers they want.