Two members of the progressive “squad,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), were quick to condemn President Donald Trump for potential “war crimes” Saturday night after the president threatened 52 possible targets in and around Iran, including what he called “cultural sites.”
The pair, of course, were not so quick to condemn Iran or slain Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the architect of hundreds of deaths and maimings across the Middle East.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump addressed a response to Iranian threats against American military sites abroad, warning that the U.S. government had compiled a list of approximately 52 potential targets for a response attack — a callback to the 52 American hostages taken by Iran back in the late 1970s.
“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian site (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago),” President Trump tweeted. “Some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets. and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”
Trump did not list specific targets, so it is not clear what he means by “important to Iran and Iranian culture.” That didn’t stop Ocasio-Cortez, of course, from immediately accusing the president of plotting “war crimes.”
“This is a war crime,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Threatening to target and kill innocent families, women and children — which is what you’re doing by targeting cultural sites — does not make you a ‘tough guy.’ It does not make you ‘strategic.’ It makes you a monster.”
Omar was not far behind, also accusing Trump of “war crimes.”
“The President of the United States is threatening to commit war crimes on Twitter,” Omar tweeted. “God help us all!”
Neither followed up with any definition of a “war crime,” so its not clear to what, in fact, either is referring. The United Nations does condemn attacks on cultural sites, particularly those protected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), but Ocasio-Cortez seemed to be prematurely condemning Trump for targeting “women and children,” something the president has not done and likely would not do.
One commentator even pointed out that Ocasio-Cortez seemed to be pulling her definition of “war crimes” from thin air: “This is a language crime. Making up your own standards for already existing concepts and claiming people violated them — and then not even meeting your own made-up standards — does not make you a ‘smart person.’ It does not make you ‘brave.’ It makes you a dork.”
Omar followed up by demanding that Congress be given control over further operations.
“This is a major test for our country,” she tweeted. “Will we allow decades of executive overreach and militarism to continue? Or will Congress step in and perform our Constitutional role to stop a war? The world is watching.”
The president does have the authority to launch a strategic military strike to prevent or contain an imminent threat, and the White House has repeatedly argued, since Friday, that Soleimani was plotting savage attacks across the Middle East and, particularly, in Iraq. To perhaps no one’s surprise, both Ocasio-Cortez and Omar opposed Friday’s strike. Omar called the incident an “assassination.”