Congressman Tonko’s Statement On Iraqi Drone Strike Contradicts His Votes On Libyan War

Yesterday New York State’s 21st Congressional District representative Paul Tonko issued a statement following the deadly drone strike conducted by the Trump Administration at Baghdad International Airport. The statement is as follows:

Paul Tonko“There is no doubt that Qasem Soleimani was responsible for heinous acts against Americans and our interests, but I am deeply disturbed by the President’s reckless escalation with Iran, which occurred without an Authorization for Use of Military Force or consultation with Congress.

“The American people do not want another costly and unnecessary conflict in the Middle East, but this drone strike brings us closer to that outcome. The Administration should immediately brief Congress on its long-term strategy, including its plan to protect Americans, in the region.

“The potential for this type of action was a major reason why I opposed the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act last month. The final agreement removed bipartisan language to prohibit an unauthorized war with Iran. Now it falls onto Congress to hold the Administration accountable and prevent our nation from being dragged into a conflict with consequences that have not been fully considered by Congress or communicated to the American people.”

The statement is confusing when one looks at Tonko’s votes on Obama’s war against Libya. Tonko did not mind that Obama started a war with Libya or that he sought congressional approval after the war against Libya began. Tonko voted to approve the use of force in Libya after the fact. The bill, RC #493, failed. The attacks on Libya were never authorized by congress, although Tonko voted with those who attempted to authorize them after the fact. The war against Libya ended up destabilizing the country, leaving it fragmented and with extremist Muslims in charge of most of it. Trump’s drone strike against an Iranian General in Iraq pales in comparison. It is difficult to understand how Tonko can be upset over the drone strike, but not over the destruction of Libya and the rise of militant Islam in that country because of Obama’s (offensive not defensive) war.

Tonko also voted nay in 2011 on bill RC #514 which would have prohibited funding for the air war against Libya. If Tonko was serious about what he says in the above statement about Trump’s drone attack in Iraq, how could he have voted nay on bill RC #514? The answer is obvious—Trump authorized the drone strike against Iraq while Obama initiated America’s war on Libya. It’s obvious that Tonko is not opposed to military action, he is simply opposed to military action initiated by a Republican.

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